Goran Ivanovic | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Goran Ivanovic 

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I first heard 23-year-old classical guitarist Goran Ivanovic about a month ago at a Music in the Loft concert, where he played with a rapt intensity that made his lightweight selections--a few dances and a transcription of a Macedonian folk tune--feel as substantial as a Bach partita. I picked up his debut CD, Solo Guitar (Willow Records), not long after, and I've been listening to it regularly ever since. Ivanovic is an exuberant interpreter--adding an exotic twang for a Gypsy tune, a piquant swagger for a Spanish one--and his boldness brings to mind one of his idols, English master Julian Bream. But his tremendous energy is tempered with finesse and introspection, so that even the flashiest passages are graceful. Ivanovic was a prodigy in his hometown of Osijek, near the Hungarian border in Croatia. His father had become a local music celebrity imitating Jimi Hendrix and other Western pop stars, and ran a business that built $5,000 electric guitars; Ivanovic, however, was weaned on the classical curriculum of the local conservatory. He began his studies in 1983, at age six, and in '89, right before civil strikes split up Yugoslavia, he was admitted to the Mozarteum in Salzburg. During Ivanovic's stay at the prestigious school, his parents immigrated to the U.S., eventually settling in Naperville; he joined them after his graduation in 1997. He's since added ethnic music to his classical core, especially Spanish, Latin American, and Macedonian folk melodies, and he's now fascinated by jazz and blues--in fact, he's already played the Green Mill with jazz guitarist Fareed Haque. Haque will guest on one of the 18 pieces on Ivanovic's HotHouse program, as will Branko Pavlovic, who plays a Balkan mandolin called a tamburitza. The bill includes works by Astor Piazzolla and Manuel de Falla, as well as by composers from Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, and elsewhere; three of the selections are improvisations on traditional Macedonian melodies. Friday, January 5, 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707. Ivanovic also plays at 6 PM every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at Gia Mia restaurant, 324 Burr Ridge, Hinsdale; 630-734-0300.



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