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Music student from Montenegro glad for opportunities provided at Northwestern State
Mar 06, 2012 | 704 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Leaving her home to attend college was something Petra Bubanja never gave much thought to, much less traveling thousands of miles to the United States for undergraduate school. But a chance encounter in an art gallery changed all that.

Bubanja, a senior music major at Northwestern State University from Montenegro, will cap off her studies by performing with the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is $10 for non-season ticket holders and free for Northwestern State University, Louisiana School for Math, Sciences and the Arts students with a current I.D. Dr. Douglas Bakenhus is music director of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony.

Bubanja is one of three student winners of the annual NSU Concerto Competition who will perform with the orchestra. The concert will also feature Eilyn Garcia on flute and Emilio Castro on violin. Winner Mario Torres will be featured on viola in a concert next fall. Garcia is a student of Professor of Flute Dr. Dennette McDermott. Bubanja, Castro and Torres are students of Associate Professor of Violin Dr. Andrej Kurti.

Bubanja will play the third movement of Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius.

“It is a very demanding work for me and for the orchestra,” said Bubanja. “Performing a difficult work is a good way for me to challenge myself and to improve. As I began rehearsing, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, but it sounds better as I rehearse. People like the piece. It sounds very powerful when played well.”

Bubanja is a two-time winner of the NSU Concerto Competition. She first played with the orchestra two years ago.

“It is the dream of every solo performer to perform with an orchestra,” said Bubanja. “The experience is so different from being accompanied on piano. There is so much going on with an orchestra. It’s a different feeling. The opportunity has motivated me to play well.”

According to Bubanja, part of the motivation is from playing a solo in front of your peers.

“It’s a little scary because all my fellow students are there,” said Bubanja. “They are the ones I compete with and they are the best judges of me.”

Bubanja’s home country was once part of Yugoslavia. Montenegro became a sovereign state after a 2006 referendum that split Montenegro from Serbia. Bubanja’s 5,000 mile journey to Northwestern State began when her parents visited an art gallery in Montenegro where Kurti was playing.

“They told him they had a talented daughter who played violin,” said Bubanja. “He heard me play and told me he would like me to be part of his studio.”

She soon made the decision to study in the United States.

“I was scared at first about coming to Natchitoches. I had never been that far away from home,” said Bubanja. “I miss my family. I am not able to go home that often, but we use Skype to talk which helps a lot.

“I only have compliments about Northwestern. There are very good teachers here. I wanted to study in a small town. By coming here, I was able to stay focused on my playing and have improved a lot.”

Bubanja has been a President’s List student at NSU. She will graduate in May. Bubanja has applied to graduate schools around the U.S. and is waiting to find out where she will be admitted.

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