Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
I started playing piano when I was 6 years old, growing up surrounded by music, art, and literature. I have two older sisters, and they were both already playing their instruments, so I was very curious and eager to start myself. At the age of 4, I had already started with classical ballet, and that all artistic background was really essential for my choice of career. My parents really immersed us from the earliest childhood in all artistic disciplines, and my mother, having played piano herself, was especially supportive in my music schooling. So, I graduated from the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb in piano performance and pedagogy, and I have been performing and teaching throughout my entire adult life. It wasn’t until recently that I started composing, mainly pieces for piano solo, and now I perform my own works, which is really amazing. I am a big lover of cinematic music, and composers such as Morricone, Tiersen, Zimmer, Rota, Piovani, etc. I really enjoy listening to their music, I feel that it transmits lots of emotions, while having marvellous melodies and great harmony, and that is something I believe is noticeable in my music, as well. Throughout my musical education, I had some pretty amazing teachers, not only in piano, but also in all other musical subjects; and so, even if I didn’t graduate in composition, I acquired great knowledge of harmony and musical forms, and that added to my natural curiosity and inclination towards experimenting, enabled me to create my musical pieces, which I also really enjoy playing, and people really seem to like listening to them. So, I was a good choice, and one I am actually very happy with.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Every new project, or new concert programme is a challenge of a sort. But I love challenges, and I really consider them opportunities – opportunities to grow, to expand my own horizons and knowledge, and, at the same time, do something I really enjoy doing. Certainly, composing my first album “People, Places, Moments” for piano solo, and then recording it, was something completely different from what I was doing before, so it represented a new type of challenge, but I am really satisfied and happy with the outcome, and I am already composing new pieces, and planning a new album. So, I would say that that challenge was successfully met, and it gave me new opportunities and ways to express myself.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
I have worked on several commissioned pieces, although that is not my priority. The challenges are that you are usually required to respect a certain time frame, and transmit a certain mood or idea (at lease the ones I was commissioned to do). And while transmitting an idea is really a great pleasure for me, and I find it extremely rewarding, keeping a certain time frame is a bit of more of a challenge, because you either have to cut it short, or you have to add something after you already feel it’s complete. So, it’s not a perfect situation, but if you are imaginative enough, and able to work around it, it can be done successfully. But, in general, it really gives one great pleasure listening to someone else perform the music one wrote, especially if they manage to capture the emotions one wanted to express.
It feels like… you are connected in some way, and share the feelings and emotions that emerge from that music. It’s quite beautiful, in fact.
Of which works are you most proud?
I am proud of all of my works; they are like my children. So, I wouldn’t and couldn’t tell you which child I am most proud of, for sure. 😊 At the moment, though, I am really enjoying my new album “People, Places, Moments”, and I see that people are listening to it and they like it, so that is something I am proud of.
How would you characterise your compositional language?
I would definitely characterise it as my own. I wouldn’t frame it, or limit it by placing it within a specific genre. It certainly has its basis in classical music, but there are also elements of cinematic music, ambient music, meditation music. I always create following only my emotions, and my inner world that I wish to express. I don’t have any limitations, or rules to follow. I love a great melody and soft chords, so that is always something that you will find in my compositions. I compose music that I love to listen to, and that is my only guideline. So, yes, it’s my own, personal language, which I hope my listeners also understand.
How do you work?
I have no “recipe” for my creative process. It all depends on my mood, on the situation, on the circumstances. I usually like to “isolate” myself, to enjoy the silence and the nature. Nature is a great inspiration for me, I could listen to the sea waves, or wind in the trees, or birds singing forever, and I always find that it gives me great comfort, but also great ideas. It just fills up my senses completely. I am also very introspective by nature, so I spend a lot of time just thinking and meditating, and then I try to put in music all those feelings and emotions that I am experiencing. It usually starts with a melody (I love a great melody), and then it expands… harmonies arrive, then another melody… and then I put it all together. Sometimes it takes just a few hours, and sometimes I can work on a piece for weeks, there is no rule. But I never stop or abandon it if I am not happy with the result at first. I may change it or add something new to it, but I always see it through.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
I couldn’t really say what a “successful musician” means in general, it all the depends on one’s own worldview, priorities, things that matter. For me, it is definitely the ability to express myself and to have people listen to my music. For someone that might mean the number of copies sold, the money earned, or the prizes won, but those things are really outside my scope, and outside of my understanding of music. If people listen to my music, enjoy it, feel emotions while listening to it, if it makes them smile, or cry, of just remember some beautiful moments, for me that is real success.
What advice would you give to young/aspiring composers?
To always follow their own path, and their heart. Don’t try to follow the “rules” as much as really express yourself in a way that feels most natural to you. And to persist. If composing if really something you enjoy doing, and if you feel that you have something to “say”, find your own style, your own musical language, and follow it. Don’t be discouraged if you are not “successful” at first, just keep believing in yourself and creating what you love, and then certainly people will recognize it, and once you have people who enjoy listening to your music, it will give you a new “incentive”, and everything will come into its place.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?
A lot can be done, but it’s a long and all-encompassing process. First of all, children need to be educated to listen to good music, and I don’t mean just classical, but good music in general. They should be encouraged to go to concerts, and maybe to play an instrument, and musical education should be more present in general schooling. Because those children will one day make great audience. Secondly, classical music should be more present in the media, and should definitely be presented in a more “appealing” way, so that people who are not great “connoisseurs” may also find their reasons to listen to it and enjoy it. People should also “get to know” professional musicians through the media, know their career paths, their motives, their challenges. Brining musicians closer to people creates great audiences, which then follow they favourite musician(s) and expand their knowledge of music. So, definitely start from the little ones, and then move up to general public
What next – where would you like to be in 10 years?
I would definitely like to keep doing what I am doing, writing and playing my music. I would certainly love to grow my audience, and have more and more people listen to my music. But, in general, I hope to be in good health and happy, and surrounded by the people I love.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Believing in myself and trusting my intuition. Being able to live without stress or the need to meet any expectations. Also, good music, good book, and good coffee. 😊
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you enjoy doing most?
Creating something new.
What is your present state of mind?
I am really excited of my upcoming album promotion, a concert in which I will play the pieces from my first album “People, Places, Moments” for the first time before an audience. Other than that, I am really filled with peace and happiness.
Nina Feric, born in Zagreb, Croatia, began her musical studies at the age of six. She obtained her Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy from the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb (Croatia) in the class of Prof. Veljko Glodic, and continued her studies at Postgraduate Course in Music Disciplines at DAMS Bologna (Italy).
She also studied under the masterly guidance of famous pianist Prof. Nina Kazimirova (Ukraine), and in masterclasses of distinguished pianists, such as Marina Horak (Slovenia), Sebastian Benda (Switzerland), Walter Groppenberger (Austria), Valerij Voskobojnikov (Ukraine), Anatolij Katz (Russia), Michalis Christodoulides (Greece), David Dubal (United States), Joseph Banowetz (United States) and Nancy Lee Harper (United States / Portugal).
In winter 2022, Nina Feric was awarded Bronze medals in the Global Music Awards for the musical genre “Contemporary Classic”, in two categories: “instrumentalist” and “emerging artist” for her album “People, Places, Moments”.