Classical guitarist to appear at


Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 - 9:18pm

International award-winning clasal guitarist Petar Jankovic appears in Price on Thursday, November 4. Jankovic will present a clinic at the College of Eastern Utah Music Center from 4-5 p.m., with a concert following at the Price Civic Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the clinic and concert is free.

Jankovic's expressive performances and a technical mastery found only among the world's top musicians make it easy to understand why he has received overwhelming international acclaim.

Since beginning his professional music career in 1985, he has delighted audiences at recitals and enlightened students in his master classes throughout Europe and the United States. As a performer at major competitions around the globe, his universally-evocative sound has won high regard with the world's classical music community, and as a result, Jankovic has garnered numerous prestigious awards. Some of these include: 1998 Bronze medal at the H.R.H. Princess Cristina 13th International Guitar Competition (Madrid, Spain); 1998 first prize at the First Annual Competition in Performance of Hispano-American music (Bloomington, Indiana); 1998 bronze medal at the M.  M.  Ponce International guitar competition (Mexico City, Mexico); 1997 Graduate Top-Strings Award, Indianapolis Matinee Musicale, first guitarist ever to win this award!


When Jankovic's guitar students tell him they didn't have time to practice, he knows better.

Jankovic, now a professor at the Indiana University School of Music and a professional classical guitarist, studied music in Yugoslavia at a time when the entire Balkan region was at war. The average worker's salary was approximately $3 per month. The majority of his generation looked to the black market to make a living any way possible. Even after graduating from the Music Academy in Belgrade, many of Jankovic's peers traded years of practice and classical training to play folk music in pubs–catering to the tastes of those who can now only be described as criminals. But Jankovic refused to follow that path.

Professional opportunities for artists were scarce, so Jankovic became a street musician. It meant seeking out a meager living, but staying true to his art and to his passion–classical guitar. He played for hours each day, often in bitter winter temperatures. And he practiced another five to six hours each day.

Despite poverty, political turmoil, and the constant threat of military police seeking young recruits to fight in an ongoing, bloody war, he practiced.


Jankovic believed that he needed to leave Yugoslavia in order to nurture his talents and mature artistically. He saw international competitions as a potential catalyst for change in his career, but even entering competitions and traveling to them held extraordinary challenges for citizens under the oppressive government. His first international competition was held in Mallorca. Financing for travel and expenses originally was provided by the Minister of Culture; however, funds transferred from the government to the Music Academy never made it into Jankovic's hands. Without money for airfare, he had to raise a few hundred dollars for train fare and obtain a visa for every leg of the journey. Wrapped in a winter coat, he stood among many others freezing in line at 4 a.m. outside the embassy in Belgrade, waiting to obtain the necessary documentation.

With visas and guitar in hand, he set out for Spain. After a few travel delays, including the misfortune of getting lost once, Jankovic arrived on the sun-drenched Spanish beach still clad in his winter coat and left with little time to prepare. His competitors had settled in days earlier, and were relaxing in shorts and sandals. Under the circumstances, Jankovic's performance was weaker than his true ability.

Still, he practiced.


Continued education offered an alternative route out of Yugoslavia. A student visa required $10,000 saved in advance of travel. Banks in Yugoslavia were notorious for "losing" money, so to safeguard his investment, Jankovic made five trips to Hungary, each time carrying $2,000 borrowed from friends and relatives for deposit into a Hungarian bank. It was risky, but moving the money all at once was more of a risk. If border police found the cash, they would confiscate it, and it was better to lose $2,000 than $10,000.

All the while, he practiced.

United States

Eventually, with funds in the bank and appropriate travel documentation, Jankovic was accepted into the master's degree program at the Indiana University School of Music. With governmental and educational systems supporting rather than working against him, Jankovic immediately began finishing at the top in international competitions among the world's best young musicians. He went on to earn the prestigious Artist Diploma Degree, also from the I.U. School of Music, and to recently release two critically-acclaimed CDs: "Romantico," and "Bogdanovic, Brouwer, Dyens." Luis Zea, a well-known composer and guitar player from Venezuela, perhaps best captured the essence of Jankovic's style by exclaiming, "He is a natural poet!"

A poet, that is, who still relentlessly practices.

Jankovic's November 4 appearance in Price is sponsored by CEU and Price Culture Connection. For information, contact Dr.  Greg Benson, Department of Music, College of Eastern Utah, (435) 613-5378.

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