by J. Andrew Dickenson
Ana Vidovic has recorded five CDs, had three television documentaries made about her, performed with international orchestras, and won competitions in England, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and New York. Not a bad career for someone from a small town in Croatia … who is only 26.
One of the youngest students to be accepted by renowned guitarist Manuel Baruecco, Ana graduated from the Peabody Institute in 2003 and has been making waves in the guitar world ever since. After playing well over one thousand concerts, Ana has a new DVD published by Mel Bay and will be releasing a sixth CD in 2007. I asked Ana about her early musical training.
Ana Vidovic: I began to play the guitar when I was five years old. It happened very naturally. My older brother Viktor had a huge influence on me. At only thirteen years old, he already had a performing career and I remember being so impressed with his talent and achievements at such an early age. I remember picking up the guitar one day and just starting to play. My father saw me and encouraged me to start taking lessons with my brother. So I did, and that’s how it all started.
NYlon Review: Can you remember your first lessons? He must have been very caring and supportive for you continue guitar to this day.
Yes, my brother as my first teacher was very good. He taught me so many important things. After that, I began working with Istvan Romer, and amazing Croatian guitarist with whom I worked for ten years while I was growing up back home. That was the most important time, and today I see what a huge influence that period had on me. He basically led me through the most crucial time of my development as a musician. He was very caring and supportive and I learned so much. My parents played an important role, too, because if they were not so supportive of me, I probably wouldn’t have kept playing the guitar. As a young person, you really need that support because there are hard times along the way.
Many people that young have trouble reading notes. How did you learn your music?
My other brother Sivije taught me how to read music when I was six or seven years old. It was hard at the beginning, but with time it got easier and easier. I think it just took a lot of practice to be able to read music well. It comes with time.
Do you remember your first performance?
I do remember it, because I was SOOOO nervous. I played as a guest at Viktor’s recital. If you have heard my brother play, you would know how hard it would be to sit down next to him and play. He always played with such ease and musicality. That was a great experience that I will always remember.
What piece did you play?
I believe I played something by Tarrega … Either “Adelita” or “Lagrima.”
When did you decide to make music a career? Was it a hard decision to make?
Yes, sometimes it was very hard. There are difficult times, but if you really, truly love something and you know it deep down in your heart, you will keep going and doing your best. There are some times that I wanted to do something else and forget about guitar, but I just love performing and at the end of the day, it is all worth it.
Do you have any inspirations for your career path? What professionals or musicians do you admire?
I admire many musicians because I know how hard it is to live a life as a musician. There are many obstacles that one has to overcome, but as I said before, if you truly believe in it, everything’s possible.
I would love to keep performing. I also would like to teach and share my knowledge and experiences with young people. I think it is important to do that. There are many talented people out there, and if I can help them on their path, I’d like to be able to do that.
What have been some the highlights of your career so far?
I have traveled a lot and met so many people. I’ve seen a lot of places that I probably wouldn’t be able to see if I wasn’t playing. I was lucky to be able to do that; I had help from many people around me. I am very excited about the release of my new DVD for Mel Bay. It is my first video and it’s very exciting. I’m also looking forward to a release of my new CD for Naxos records next year. A Croatian film director, Petar Krelja, has just made a documentary about my life in the states, so that was exciting as well. I think performing in front of people in different places is probably something that I personally consider the biggest highlight of all.
You’ve won several major music competitions.
Competitions are good, as long as you don’t take the decision of a jury too personally. I think it is impossible to judge who is a better player or who isn’t. Music is not a sport. As I said before, there are many talented people out there and they all deserve their place. We are all different and have different views of music and we just need to keep developing that. I think it is good to go out and meet young people of your age, talk to them and find your place among them. Competitions are just one step to building a career. They should not become a career. I have done some competitions in Europe and, looking back, I’m glad I did them. They taught me a lot of lessons.
Can you tell me about the guitar you play?
I play an amazing instrument made by Jim Redgate, an Australian guitar maker. The moment I began to play this guitar, I just knew it was the one for me. It has such a beautiful, clean, and powerful sound. I have heard so many wonderful comments about it from people all over the world and I’m very happy for Jim. I think he is the guitar maker of the future, and I’m sure he will build many more beautiful instruments.
What goals do you have for your career?
I’d like to keep performing, working on new repertoire, collaborate with other musicians, keep developing my playing, and just keep doing what I love.
Ana Vidovic performed on the NYCCGS Concert Series on April 20, 2007.