Prishtina’s culture has turned into an explosion of variety. Styles clash, and taste differs from one individual to the other. Yet they all jointly exist in peace, inside this bubble that constantly exalts art & prompts creativity to the maximum.
It’s weird, given the adversities local civilians often face. There’s a high chance that after an entertaining event that may take place in the city, you’ll be reminded of the misery Kosovo’s capital suffers from, and then remain unsatisfied with what this town has to offer. However, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Struggle breeds innovation. And innovative people are the ones giving Prishtina life, if not keeping it alive.
Like any other place, music is the main form of expression in Kosovo.
Rap frequently serves as an honest, unfiltered reminder of what’s going on around here, whereas jazz and/or classical music are rather pleasant distractions from the tiring gloominess. Although classical music may be a rarity these days, there’s still some benefits from its dearth. As if it raises the capabilities of understanding its magic whenever you come across it. That might’ve been the case upon attending one of the most recent gigs, in which Pierre Webber was playing the piano with Eriona Gjyzeli handling the vocals.
I happen to know Pierre more than I do Eriona. He’s an ambassador for Luxembourg—working in Kosovo—who enjoys raising awareness on spirituality amongst the youth. On top of all this, he has an undying love for music. Despite juggling academic work & the married life, he finds enough time to play piano and compose enticing pieces on it. This ongoing passion for music that carries him through his daily life, is easily noticeable. You’ll find him continuously exercising his fingers wherever he’s sitting, whilst simultaneously maintaining the conversations he’s having. Happily married, charismatic, and impassioned. Pierre Webber is music’s unsung hero.
Middle aged artists that make it big after a long while of making music are looked up as inspiration for never quitting (see: 2 Chainz). But the point behind it isn’t to really reach worldwide stardom. It’s the joy you receive out of the creating process, fueling you enough to never take a break.
That seems to be Pierre’s aim. He’s experienced, and mature enough to not be obsessed with popularity, but it doesn’t mean he despises success. You can tell he’s very grateful of the support after shows, or when people randomly hear his work and compliment his skills. It’s an obvious push to hone his craft. Besides, positive feedback always strengthens the euphoria of devising a work of art.
Once the show began, Eriona’s talent instantly increased her significance. She stole everyone’s attention within the very first note. Her presence was now a gift to the audience. Throughout the first act, a highly concentrated Pierre ran his fingers across the piano keyboard, accompanying her wonderful singing. However, Pierre’s intentions were more of letting Eriona’s soprano voice take the spotlight, rather than both of them sharing it together. He sure knew his job as a pianist at that moment.
Eriona would continue to control her vocal range at imposing levels. She seemed comfortable, singing/walking around the stage, plus at times even greeting people in the front row with a smile. This felt more joyous than your ordinary classical concert. Later on Eriona paused, and introduced her stage partner, Pierre. “To many of you, he’s a diplomat. But to me, he’s an artist,” she says. It’s true, a bulk of people recognize him as Luxembourg’s ambassador, but seeing Mr. Webber play his favorite instrument makes you think all the academic work is just a side-hustle for him. Following the short pause/introduction, Eriona invites a female friend to join her, so they can sing a tune together.
The moment she joined—and began singing alongside Eriona—is when Pierre’s virtuoso made a strong appearance. His technical skills were shining with each note produced. The current mezzo-soprano singer was flowing excellently with Pierre’s tempo. The trio had the entire hall in awe. But with an interpretation like that, they could’ve had a whole stadium in awe.
The song ended, Pierre got up from his seat, and bowed alongside the two performers. He gave his wife—who was in the audience—a doting look. Smiling at her with the utmost respect. She smiled back, then Pierre, Eriona and her friend left the stage altogether. As he’s walking backstage you realize what he truly stands for: music & his wife, Zarrin.
After a few minutes, Pierre came back on his own.
It was the 2nd act. He sat down and began playing his newest composition. It’s started off serenely, retaining elevating vibes throughout. At one point, he even looked at the piano the exact same way he looked at Zarrin earlier. That sort of love for something makes things enthralling. But only when it ends, does the audience realize how captivating this piece had been.
Pierre leaves no time to think, though. He waits for everyone to stop applauding—with a smile on his face—then presents his second work of art. This one differed from what we heard previously. It’s playful melodies executed in an impetuous manner. You get the sense all his practice is finally paying off. Whilst his hands jumped across the piano—his finger movements determining his body language—Pierre’s rhythms conveyed sublime energy. He undoubtedly reached his peak during this act.
When finished, Eriona returned and they continued the night by performing older, classical Albanian songs. Pierre remained dexterous and Eriona was comfortable than before. Still singing, she picked a bouquet full of flowers and left one rose on top of Pierre’s piano. Before the next song, Pierre stood up, picked the rose and gave it to his wife. It was the surprise of the night. Even Eriona was applauding with excitement along with the audience. When Pierre got back to his seat, they proceeded exhibiting their adroitness for another half an hour. Then the show ended with a standing ovation from the crowd. Both artists were assured they gave everyone, exactly what they wanted.
Afterwards, I met Eriona, congratulated her, as well as let her know her voice took me by surprise. She thanks me, and we have a small conversation in which I end up telling her I’m a writer/music critic. “Awesome! What college are you in?” she asked. I was immediately reminded there’s no creative writing schools around here, so I responded “Eh, none yet. It’s all self-knowledge so far” in an upsetting tone. “Ooohh, nice!” she added, sounding as if she was still impressed. Eriona leaves backstage and I’m left thinking why doesn’t Prishtina’s mayor make efforts to help us—the writers—more. My train of thoughts is interrupted when Pierre invites me to dinner.
It’s around 10 P.M.
A warm night, full of citizens wandering around the streets of Prishtina. It’s summertime — that means the people who leave the country so they can find better jobs, come back to visit. Therefore raising the country’s popularity for a short period. The air is too dense, so Pierre suggests we (our mutual & his wife) sit somewhere nearby. We do as suggested, choosing this small restaurant at the city square. Outside, we gather a few small tables to make a big one, then finally sit down.
The show’s considered as a success. We’re all expressing how proud we are of Pierre, but he doesn’t let it get to his head. Humble as ever, he individually asks each one of us about our day. There’s a balance between banter & deep spiritual conversations, as we wait for our food.
40 minutes later—after we’re done eating—a gypsy child comes out of nowhere and steals the rose Pierre gave Zarrin, as a form of rebellion against us for having no spare change to give her. Zarrin’s now feeling slightly despondent. Most of us feel bad as well. For Zarrin, and the way that child is currently being raised.
That’s Prishtina. It will take you to cloud 9, and bring you back to the ground within 24 hours.
Written by Dennis B.