Steinberg in Bosnia
In 1995, the Dayton treaty ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina which had seen the eradication of more than 100,000 lives in the very heart of Europe, and simultaneously the obliteration of a vivid music scene. Over the past 15 years since the last shots were fired, this scene has required intensive support but still hasn’t fully recuperated. Apart from the consistently growing conflicts within certain ethnic groups, the country’s difficult economic situation and the exclusion from the European Union make it virtually impossible to revive the culture in the Balkans.
Darko Saracevic, sound engineer from Travnik in central Bosnia, has been giving the youths devoid of prospects renewed hope in these difficult times by establishing the cultural organization ALTER ART in 1998. Among this highly motivated group of idealists who have been providing cultural and, in particular, musical development aid for than ten years now are several international music aficionados such as Billy Gould, bassist for the legendary US band Faith No More. For many years Gould feels connected to the Balkans and has built a close friendship with Saracevic. In an interview, Gould told us the reasons for offering his support to the small cultural organization in Eastern Europe.
"I've seen the proof of what an organization like this can do firsthand. Given the difficulties of Bosnian citizens getting visas abroad, that this is probably one of the few ways for musicians and fans to come into contact with artists from outside the country. The service that ALTER ART provides is invaluable in countering the effects of cultural isolation, while helping create artists of tomorrow that will be able to hold their own on the world's stage. My first impression was that this was a very well run organization, with possibly the best sound system in the Balkans. And this is no subjective observation. I have been touring as a professional musician for over 25 years, and, in light of this, consider ALTER ART, given it's resources, to be a first class establishment. This favorable impression was also confirmed by the atmosphere of the club, and it's patrons, which was very positive and enthusiastic, compared to similar clubs in Western Europe, even superior. What impressed me the most was how actively engaged the local musicians were towards writing and recording their own music, and even taking the interest to learn electronics in order to build their own music equipment. This type of passion and energy is unique in my experience, and quality that should be valued and encouraged."
The organization’s story began in 1995, the last year of the war, with an old blue Mercedes Benz truck which the German relief organization Technisches Hilfswerk sent to grief-stricken Bosnia, loaded with a sound system to allow for events and concerts. The electrician Saracevic, then aged 25, was hired as technician, interpreter and organizer and soon became a familiar face in the still barren field of event management. When the Technisches Hilfswerk returned home from the crisis area two years later, the truck was left behind and with it the system. On the premise to continue organizing concerts, the German relief organization gave up both, which has helped re-established a concert environment in the small country of the Balkans.
After opening up an internet café called Internetclub in the town of Travnik, thus providing a cultural meeting point for the youths in the area, Saracevic came up with his latest project about a year ago: a recording studio for young Bosnian bands who can’t afford to record their music. Thanks to international donations and with the help of several volunteers, the town’s cultural center now has rehearsal room plus a control room which used to be a storeroom. Since 2010 each band may use the facility to record their music and, what’s more, Darko Saracevic gives them useful insights into recording technology. We felt honored to provide Cubase 5 as the centerpiece of the new sound studio while Billy Gould donated the computer.
Steinberg is also part of a current workshop that is going from school to school in Bosnia, to bring computer music closer to the children. We hope to have made a modest contribution to the country and its culture.