Composer David Mastikosa’s ESCAPE is the work of an ambitious young composer whose skill belies his age. Born in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mastikosa is currently one of the most active contemporary classical music composers in his home country, and writes music for film and media. ESCAPE features works composed in a variety of styles and arrangements. ESCAPE is both an artistic triumph in its own right and an early milestone in Mastikosa’s promising career.

Today, David is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about why David wants this album to act like an “Escape” from everyday life, and why he believes surrounding yourself with creative people is an important endeavor…

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

When I think of the most unusual performance I had, the first thing that came to my mind is the premiere of my piece Ul-la for violin and string orchestra. In this piece, most of the time string players are whistling and creating a texture which is enhanced by the solo violinist who is improvising. Given that this composition was commissioned by the Vareš Classic Festival 2017, to be played by Andrea Nikolić & MAS String Orchestra, we had the first rehearsal at the Music Academy in Sarajevo, and even today, five years later, I can clearly remember the image of slightly confused performers whistling for the first time, instead of playing technically demanding virtuoso passages. We all really enjoyed this process of giving birth to Ul-la, and I remember it fondly.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I would say reading and watching short documentaries about the brain, mysteries of the mind, psychology, psychoanalysis, paranormal phenomena, and self-help, as well as getting to know more about the work of different spiritual teachers. Besides that, if I need to choose another pleasure that I hold in high regard, I would say cultural diplomacy, as I really enjoy exchanging creative ideas with different people from different cultures.

If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?

My dream job is to work as a freelance composer while living in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a long road, but I strongly believe it is possible. Certainly, I could also imagine myself working professionally as an artist manager, as I enjoy connecting with people, as well as organizing and managing different cultural events. At this stage, artist management is still my hobby, and I enjoy it so much.

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

Choosing my favorite musical moment on the album is like asking the mother of three children which one she likes the most. All compositions on the album are equally dear to me. I carefully chose them and meaningfully arranged them into a unique dramatic flow, so I advise you to listen to it from beginning till the end. However, if I had to pick and choose my favorite places or pieces on the album, then I would say that it is Nucleus Expansion for the big band, because it shows that my oeuvre and the compositions on this album are extremely diverse and colorful, and in addition to this piece, I would give a significant place to the composition Void for string orchestra, which represents an ESCAPE towards some new freedom in my artistic expression and music language.

What does this album mean to you personally?

ESCAPE is my debut album and I find it a very important step in my professional development and career. Working on this album proved to me that one of the most important things in the professional world is to be surrounded by a team of creative experts that share the same passion as you do. I was working on this album for almost two years, and even during the pandemic in 2020, when it seemed impossible to find funding for it, most of the people from my team strongly believed that it was actually possible. I am grateful to them for that.

Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?

I want to emphasize that this album offers an hour-long “ESCAPE” into an unusually colorful world, and that this album is an opportunity to escape from everyday life that haunts and oppresses you. Sometimes it is desirable to think of yourself and afford such an escape.

  • David Mastikosa

    Born in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, David Mastikosa is a younger-generation composer. Mastikosa attended the University of Banja Luka, Academy of Arts where he obtained a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree. The same Academy elected him a Teaching Assistant in 2015, and later a Senior Teaching Assistant at the Department of Musical Theory and Composition in 2020.