The borderlands between Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania, a crossroads between the Slav and Albanian-speaking areas, is the heart of the Balkan peninsula and home to one of the most celebrated epic song traditions, previously studied in the 1930s by Parry and Lord, who adopted a radical new approach to the study of both written and oral epic narrative. Promoted by the Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies, this seminar and concert will focus on the tradition of epic singing which, through various developments, including the complex historical events in the area, still lives on today. One of the main groups of songs in the Albanian language in this tradition is found in the Rugova Mountains in Kosovo, on the
border with Montenegro. The greatest living performer of them, the singer Isa Elezi Lekgjekaj
(born 1947), has been specially invited to Venice for the occasion.
The introductory seminar will be attended by the curators of the Harvard University Milman Parry Collection and Zymer Ujkan Neziri from the Institute of Albanian Studies, Priština, the author of several books that have helped to preserve these songs in writing. The concert will include a complete performance of the Song of Halil’s Wedding with Italian subtitles. Accompanying Isa Elezi Lekgjekaj during the concert, two musicians playing çiflteli and sharki (long-necked plucked lutes) will perform some instrumental pieces. The event will provide the occasion for the presentation of a project by Nicola Scaldaferri concerning the publication of the Albanian epic songs in the Milman Parry Collection, which have remained unpublished for over eighty years.