ARTIST FEATURE: From Los Angeles to Vienna, from Berlin to Ljubljana, meet Jure Pockaj, the incredible Slovenian Baritone! We are excited to have him as our featured artist this week.

1) How do you practice your rhythm and sense of time?

To build a sense of time I like to compose and strum easy guitar music that has a strong sense of pulse and where rhythm and harmonic rhythm changes are the primary musical element. When I sing, I try to focus on the rhythm of the words first and then the harmonic rhythm as it brings some changes to the pitch itself. I try to feel rhythm in the body and in the breath so I can deliver the right emotion and right pitch at the right time. Generally, I prefer to practice time with a pianist – conductor or even with a group that has a rhythm section rather than just a pulse/metronome. It sinks in better.

2) What are your favorite rhythmic exercises?

I love to work with a pianist – conductor so we can really work on fine tuning of the opera from all the angles. In terms of rhythm we focus on the beat of the piece and the emotional feeling that brings a slightly faster or slower tempo. When the rhythm sits well in the body and the words move naturally we can search for the right rhythmic expressions in the piece. Of course from time to time one needs to check the tempi with a metronome as to catch the composer’s intentions and sometimes also listen to master singers of the past to absorb the unquantifiable elements of music that way. This can give you another authority and approach to an aria.

Listening to master singers of the past lets us absorb the unquantifiable elements of music!

3) What exotic rhythms do you like and what can we learn from it?

We have to appreciate the organic, intimate, imperfect and diverse nature of music and art, without judging it by mere classical standards. Given that the world is musically more connected than ever, I am not sure how to define “exotic”! For me sometimes listening to recordings of master singers from centuries ago and their choices in the arias brings completely new and I would say exotic rhythms of interpretation to something that has become a standard today in the opera world. I would suggest listening to some baritone arias performed by the king of baritones Mattia Battistini to get a perspective.

4) Can you name one thing that you like about the metronome on
It`s always there when you need it.

VIDEO: Check out Jure’s beautiful performance of Avant de quitter ces lieux, Valentin’s aria from Faust!