On PEOPLE, PLACES, MOMENTS, Nina Feric presents a wide selection of all original works, each deeply in tune with life and art, and enriched with personal anecdotes from her own life. Her first album as both a composer and performer, Feric’s compositions often alternate between lighter and darker moments, while the use of modulation and chromatics give the melodies a certain dose of playfulness. Thoughtfully composed and masterfully conveyed through a single piano, the main message behind Feric’s music speaks clearly and warmly throughout: a positive outlook on the future and the joy of living.
Today, Nina is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about her creative inspirations growing up, unique passion for “parallel dimension theories,” and how she wants her album to “awaken” emotions…
Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?
If we talk about pianists, my first favorite artist was definitely Arthur Rubinstein. I was very young when I first discovered him, maybe 12 or 13 years of age, and for a long time I was rather obsessed with his recordings and performances, so whichever piece I would be playing at the time, I always tried to find his recording of it, just to hear how he would do it. Then I would always end up performing the piece my way, but Rubinstein was, nevertheless, always the most interesting pianist for me to hear. I also believe that he was a very interesting person who led an exceptional life in general, which is something that always seems to go hand in hand with exceptional performances. During that time, I remember I also admired cellist Jacqueline du Pré a lot, pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Later on, I certainly learned about many, many other great musicians and artists, but during the time I was growing up, and developing my musical taste, those I mentioned certainly had great influence on me.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I guess I always knew it, or at least as long as I can remember. It wasn’t always the same art, though. In fact, I believe I tried almost every art form there is. I started playing piano at the age of 6, but before that, at the age of 4, I started taking classical ballet lessons, and I kept dancing classical and modern ballet until I was 20. I was also part of a dancing theater company during high school.
Around the age of 12-13, I became very interested in drawing, or to be exact, comic book drawing. My parents had a family friend who was a comic book artist, and I was taking lessons with him for quite some time. Then I became interested in the history of art in general, and I even read Art History at the University of Zagreb.
I was also very interested in theater and drama, and I studied acting as well, being part of the youth theater drama group in Zagreb.
I was always fascinated by art, in all its forms. I guess I always felt that expressing emotion through art is an incredible way to create or experience some other “realities” different from your ordinary everyday life, but so rich and varied that we can live thousands of different lives through art.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
More than one pops to mind, but I think that the most unusual thing happened in Funchal, Madeira, where I played the Most Beautiful Soundtracks repertoire, i.e. my arrangements for piano of some amazing cinematographic themes. While I was playing Pirates of the Caribbean, which is a truly virtuoso composition, and has many glissandos, in both hands, ascending and descending, and since the skin on my fingers was already slightly bruised from practicing, and that piano had really sharp edges, I started bleeding in the middle of the composition all over the keys. I kept playing, obviously, and by the end of the composition, the skin at the base of my nails was completely open and cut, and the piano was all stained with blood. So much so that at the end of the concert, when the organizer came up on the stage, they were so shocked just by looking at the piano that they took the photos of the keys and made a great story of it, about truly “leaving part of oneself” on the stage. However, I will always remember that concert as one of the most beautiful experiences I had, as regards the organization, the environment, as well as the audience, and the repertoire. The bleeding part is just an added fun fact that makes it unforgettable.
What is your guilty pleasure?
So many things give me pleasure, but I wouldn’t define any of them as “guilty”… that’s because I never feel guilt after experiencing them. Ha-ha! Such pleasures include singing and dancing around the house anytime I feel like it; watching travel or design documentaries for hours; cooking and baking for my friends and family, even when I have other things to do; traveling, anywhere, even if it’s just a short weekend getaway; indulging in exotic cuisine… but also gardening, reading fiction, and maybe the most unusual – exploring quantum physics and parallel dimensions theories – that’s something that intrigues me very much indeed.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I am so happy, and I really feel lucky and blessed that my profession gives me complete freedom in space and time, in a way that I can really live anywhere and keep doing what I am doing – playing the piano and composing. I can do it any time, day or night. So, what I would really like is to spend creative time in many different parts of the world, traveling from place to place, discovering new cultures, different ways of life, and meeting new people. I really love nature, and all climate zones are equally appealing to me – I would enjoy the cold of Alaska and its amazing scenery, same as I would enjoy the sun and beaches of Australia or South America. And it’s not only the nature that amazes me, it’s also the cities, so I could easily create in the heart of New York, as I could in an isolated, remote place. I find inspiration in different locations, and what I really enjoy doing is describing different places and people with and through my music, and the more I travel and discover, the richer my music is. That is something that I truly cherish and love, and I am always ready for a new experience anywhere in the world.
What does this album mean to you personally?
This album is extremely important to me, in so many ways. It is my first album as both, the composer and the performer. And as the title says “PEOPLE, PLACES, MOMENTS,” it is a storybook that tells the stories from my life. It is a deeply personal and intimate album, in which every story, every composition, has a special place in my life and in my heart. Some of the people I talk about are not with us anymore, some are here and make every day more beautiful. I also tried to capture some of the fleeting moments I have experienced, and to describe some places that always inspire me. So, words can hardly express the importance that this album has for me. The album contains 14 piano miniatures, short pieces, each of which has its own mood, its own feeling. And every time I play them, I am reliving those beautiful moments, and seeing in my mind those places and people I am telling the musical story about. And since this is a new experience for me, I am also learning a lot about myself. So, it is a continuous process of creating and learning that enriches me personally in so many ways.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
What I would like this album to do is to “awake” the emotions in my audience. I would really love it if each person that listens to the album, or to any composition on the album, finds a connection with their own life, their own emotions. I would like them to be able to daydream and experience joy, sadness, love, passion, nostalgia… while listening to my music. Music often invites us to relive some of the beautiful, joyful, or sad moments of our lives, or to imagine a future as we would like it to be, and it would truly be an honor to me if people would use my album, my music, as a means to travel to other places and moments in their imagination and they dreams.