INSIDE THE MUSICIAN. Richard Petkovic: Open Without a Map

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Written by: Richard Petkovic

I was thrown into this world without a map. No guidance or elders to trust, no obvious skills that could be nurtured but there was an ‘urge’ to find something, to be something.

Born into a migrant working class/peasant family, the first generation out of subsistence farming. I didn’t discover what I was passionate about till year 12 where I started miming to my brother’s Beatles best of tape in my friend’s back yard (I think I was John) and learning the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven the night before my HSC Maths exam… .Off to a labouring job I went in January!

Richard Petkovic

My first step on my musical journey (wanting to be in Bon Jovi) was motivated by needing to escape the path of every other ‘normal’ person who was heading down a road of conformity and working at jobs that they hated (like my parents). Something in me recognised a pathway out of suburbia, not a realistic one (making pop hits) but it set me off on a Path. I couldn’t play (still can’t really) but I could share and perform, I had the energy to channel my enthusiasm and I had a ‘vision’.

Creating music became a way to express my issues. I could ‘see’ what was needed, I had the ‘image’ of what feeling I wanted to extract from the audience. I could see an audience being uplifted and I could feel the music, so I began to write songs that fitted my vision.

I soon quit my labouring job in my father’s business and moved out of home (which led to us not talking for four years) and life on the edges of the mainstream started or as I called it, my life apprenticeship started!

People who are searching for their thing in life ask me, ‘what’ they should do and my reply is, just ‘do’ something. Have a go, follow your passion and if you stay open to others you will learn. You might have to retreat but you will have your own experience. Be brave because most people will not encourage you or support you, they will only see what is missing.

Worlds Collide

You need to be like a parent watching their child perform at a school show, open, interested, attentive, wise (or aiming to be wise) and resilient. Stick with your vision (of the project or your life), listen to everyone, ponder and then ignore everyone and strike out again.

Life is about the process.

If you are open, the process can slowly transform you and teach you about the ‘real world’. Me, you and Jon Bon Jovi are all going to die, what will be your legacy?

Blue Mary

A person of understanding, compassion and experience can help others who are without a map.  A person who follows one successful path from birth to death cannot.

My path is about creativity and community. My question and my self-monitoring device is, how can this project help others? It can’t be all about me.

How can I bring something into the world that unites in a world of dividing? How can I unite my disparate often stupid parts? It has to be a win-win situation (an internal win without the all-dividing ego).

From playing hard rock, to being interested in life and a cross-cultural musical future for Australia, the process is where the magic happens.

It’s the small journey a project takes that is interesting. How can I stay open to what is possible while creating ‘something from nothing’? I have preconceived ideas and ideas that I know will work but I have to throw that out and stay alive to what is needed.

How can I take this amazing Uyghur musician from Casula, capture his essence and create a vehicle that will expand his experiences and create contemporary Australian music? Who will respond to it? How can I get the audience to be active and participate in the performance? These are the things that interest me when creating and collaborating.

From collaborating with artists to creating music, art and festivals, what does this project need? Probably NOT what I ‘think’ it needs.

How to use my intuition and be open to and include all possibilities and opinions, to build something that is sustainable? We need a shared vision!

Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra. Photo by Ben Appleton

NOW, I see myself again at the beginning, a new beginning, where I want to take the hidden treasures out of Western Sydney and to the world. I believe that the sum of our communities makes us unique and strong. We don’t have music organisations that support diverse music in NSW, so, I need to create pathways for the wonderful artists that I work with and for our vision of an inclusive Australian music.

I think the Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra can stop wars in the Middle East.

You’ve got to have a go!

Richard Petkovic (Cultural Arts Collective) is a composer, performer, producer, artistic director and music director. He has initiated and produced cross-cultural music initiatives: Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra, Worlds Collide, Blue Mary and the Shohrat Tursun Trio. He has founded the Cultural Arts Collective consultancy and record label, the Sydney Sacred Music Festival, the not for profit organisation Sacred Currents Inc. and created the short film, One Day in Bankstown.

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