The Musical Evenings in St Donat’s is a musical manifestation that underwent several conceptual changes over more than half a century, and each of those changes may be considered successful.

The initial years passed in endeavours, on the one hand, to bring renowned international and national musicians to Zadar and, on the other hand, to use the influence of the Evenings to strengthen the local, Zadar-based musicians, to enable them to participate in the festival programme on equal basis.

A significant turning point occurred in 1975 and the change lasted until 1990. The festival programme increasingly and more systematically focussed on the earlier centuries of music history, following, but also setting current trends, under the studious attention of a divided audience that either ecstatically welcomed the new concept, or openly criticised it.

After a dramatic interruption in 1991 and even more dramatic performance under artillery fire in 1992 and 1993, the Evenings were conceptually renewed in 1994. At that time an effort was made to continue building the manifestation within given material circumstances, based on the foundations of what the preceding years defined as the true programme value.

The given themes delineated their contentbased on the principles of music being a unique and integral notion. The theme content wasn’t aligned with the strictly set boundaries between old and new music; it was enriched with a music stage, contemporary Croatian music creation and the Zadar reproductive forces.

More than half a century passed from the initial idea of the Zadar-native conductor PavleDešpalj and its realisation. During that period the Musical Evenings in St Donat’s became one of the oldest Croatian festivals, which every year reinvigorates the warm Zadar summer nights with the quality and inventiveness of its programmes and its conception.

The founder’s wishes fully came true. Not only did the Church of St Donat’s become a concert venue, but it also flourished into one of the most attractive concert venues in Croatia. Furthermore, the Zadar Chamber Orchestra, which started its work under maestro Dešpalj at the 1st Musical Evenings in St Donat’s, has become one of the best Croatian ensembles of its kind, presently conducted by maestro Ivan Repušić.

More information: www.donat-festival.com