Svjetlana Bukvich-Nichols is one of Sarajevo’s premier music figures. Svjetlana alchemizes old with new in a superbly original, yet accessible voice. Her genre-bending works span from acoustic and performer-driven to electronic and theatrical. They often include movement, video, voice, and tuning of her design. An innovator in hybrid electronic sound, Svjetlana composes, produces, and performs with a unique musical sensibility informed by the cities she has lived in, including Edinburgh, New York City, Boston, Addis Ababa, and her native Sarajevo.
Sarajevo has been described as “the most eastern place of the West and the most western place of the East”, balancing these points for centuries. Prior to the Bosnian War, Sarajevo in the eighties was a city that “moved to the rhythm of an Austrian waltz with a Slavic lilt and a Turkish flourish in its architecture, thriving arts scene and temperament which betrayed evidence of all three”. As a musician on that scene, Svjetlana played with rock bands, composed for independent television and theater, collaborated with some of Europe’s foremost musicians, and performed as a piano soloist with the Sarajevo Philharmonic. Her flourishing career was cut short by the war, and Svjetlana needed to make a critical move. She applied for, and was awarded, a full scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York; she packed her bags and moved to the US.
Once there, Svjetlana earned an MFA in integrated electronic arts, the first multimedia program of its kind. Integrating the leading-edge technology with her classical training and bold, yet sensuous style, Svjetlana has been billed by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) as a “concert composer/performer whose music defies boundaries”. She has appeared at major venues across the country, such as the Times Center, the Tribeca Film Festival, American Festival of Microtonal Music, The Knitting Factory, Music With A View at the Flea Theater, Serial Underground at the Cornelia Street Café, The Kitchen, The Anthology Film Archives, Rose Studio at Lincoln Center, (le) Poisson Rouge, ASCAP’s Thru The Walls Series, the Inner Voices New Music Festival in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and internationally including Beijing, London, South Africa and Copenhagen.
Svjetlana’s music has been broadcast on leading American radio stations. Voice of America, American Music Center’s Counterstream Radio, and John Schaefer’s New Sounds on WNYC’s radio series in New York City featured her work, among others. Her extensive scholarship and grant list includes the Soros Foundation, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP’s Buddy Baker Film Scoring Scholarship, and the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University. Svjetlana is featured in the forthcoming book among sixteen contemporary women composers in American music “Conversations with American Women Composers” and will be an artist-in-residence at Lafayette College in fall 2011.
New York City-based, Svjetlana continues to write for film, animation, dance, electro-acoustic ensembles, and trail-blazing instrumentalists in the new-music world. She teaches at New York University and Pratt Institute, and mentors young composers and media artists in pursuit of their creative dreams. Among her mentors are Josip Magdic, Neil Rolnick, Kurt Munkacsi, Miroslaw Rogala, Martin Bresnick, and Robert Ashley.