When Swan Lake Comes To Sarajevo
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War is always with us, and so is peace. This is about the peace that comes after a war. It is one woman’s account of her experiences in the new country of Bosnia as guest conductor of a remarkable little orchestra, the Mostar Sinfonietta. International violinist Ruth Waterman first met the musicians of the multi-ethnic ensemble in 2002, and since then has returned regularly to the region, teaching, conducting and performing, and listening to their stories. Here she describes the nuts and bolts of daily life – in turn frustrating, hilarious and touching: the putting together of concerts despite the odds; the rebuilding of bridges, towns, communities, lives; and how making music can connect us to our essential humanity and to each other. Ruth Waterman’s writing is humane and down-to-earth, perceptive and inspiring. Interspersed with her diaries and observations are the stories of war and peace by the Bosnians themselves, in their own voices, acts of witness that reveal their courage, despair, resilience and humour. This intermingling of narrative, first-hand accounts and photographs builds a mosaic that provides a visceral introduction to an unfamiliar world where people simply want to ‘live a normal life’.