Back in 2007 on our first Singing and Sailing in Croatia trip with Stuart Davis we were fortunate to hear a wonderful local 'Klapa' group that really stood out for me. Apart from singing these gorgeous romantic Dalmatian songs about the life on the islands, this group sang songs from the hinterland that were completely different and recognisably balkan. But what really struck me was how some songs were so familiar and sounded like the sounds of pacific islander music... I closed my eyes and listened and the sounds transported me to Samoa, although the words were Croatian.
So I got chatting with their lead singer and director Mario Markovina. Mario impressed me with his rich baritone voice and his knowledge as an ethnomusicologist and also as a brilliant maestro to many 'klapa groups. I found he was highly respected throughout the Dalmatian Coast for both his skills and his warm and extremely inspiring nature. So naturally I invited Mario to co-direct our event this year.