Dusan Popovic Lipovac is a guitarist, composer, instrument teacher and author of several scripts on learning the guitar.
I was born on July 29th, 1990 in Belgrade, but grew up in Kovin, small town next to the Danube river. My parents, even though with no musical education, were active in the field of art; my mother sang in a choir and danced, while my father played the guitar and sang in the local pop groups. My older brother was the first in the family who enrolled into musical school – piano; few years later, my younger brother did the same, learning the guitar. Although I was completely surrounded with music, my first love was sport. I played soccer and table tennis for a short period of time before I started learning the art of Shotokan karate. When I was nine, I started playing the guitar with professor Jelena Misic who, with all her knowledge in pedagogy, was responsible for my love towards the classical guitar. Nevertheless, I invested most of my time learning karate, actively competing in this sport, winning more than 20 medals along with a gold medal at the national competition. During this time I held the first kyu (brown belt). Although I was convinced that sport would be my life choice, very soon my interest for music and guitar started growing and became the primary focus of my life.
In 2005 I enrolled into high-school of music Dr. Vojislav Vuckovic and started my life in a student dorm. Next four years were crucial for my development because during that period I met many people which had a direct influence on my way of thinking and life in general. In my second year I started learning in the class of Zoran Anic whose simple work philosophy still has importance in the way I think. When it was needed, my teacher would say: the moment you really start working, you will stop feeling any fear. The other phrase which, likewise, had big impact on me some time later was: play what drives you, it will be the only thing you will be truly good at! Being that, at that moment, I was surrounded by classical music, I didn’t question my choice of the genre.
In the student dorm I was a member of a band that competed with other dorms in the field of popular music and played the electric guitar. People I played with back then are still present in my life through different forms of cooperation. While in high-school I had many friends from jazz department so I had an insight into that genre of music as well, though in that moment, this was only informative. During that period I saw numerous concerts of all different genres but two had a direct influence on my musical development. The first one was the concert of Vlatko Stefanovski and Miroslav Tadic and while people enjoyed in the virtuosity of the first-mentioned, my eyes followed Miroslav – a man whose playing remained a mystery to me for many years. To this day, Miroslav is one of my biggest guitar idols. The other concert was a chance for me to get to know the music of Vicente Amigo in 2009. From that day on, not a single day has passed without listening to at least one of Vicente’s compositions, always thinking how to reach that way of playing. Unfortunately, at this period of time, karate stopped being a part of my life, taking a back seat to my music career. After high school, I decided to move once again.
In 2009 I enrolled into Academy of Arts in Novi Sad – guitar department – in the class of professor Zoran Krajisnik. The following period meant the beginning of analytical approach to several different genres, most importantly, flamenco. The same year I started playing with flamenco ensemble La Familia and became drawn to this genre even more. After the first lessons, I got a better understanding of how the music of my idols works and it was then that I started playing their compositions, at the same time always doing complete formal-harmonic analysis. With La Familia I had many performances, out of which the biggest were concerts on Exit (international music festival in Novi Sad, Serbia), Nisville (international Jazz festival in Nis, Serbia) and Studio M (Novi Sad). Other than flamenco troupe, I was a member of a Serbian choir Svetozar Markovic, and this took me to several concerts and competitions. Likewise, I was a guitar-guest-member of Klapa Panon (klapa is a form of traditional a cappella singing) with whom I took participation in the festival of Klapa in Ljubljana where we’ve won the third prize. During studies I started working in the school of music, giving guitar lessons and taking my students to several competitions winning my first prizes as a teacher. In 2013 I had begun working on an arrangement for a concert for guitar and orchestra called Espagnole and with the permission from the composer Geert Van Hoorick, I performed it for the first time in Novi Sad, as a part of my bachelor’s degree.
To the East and the West
After I graduated, I began preparations for continuation of my education abroad. I sent application to the master studies of musical investigation in Murcia, Spain, where I became the only non-Spanish person to get accepted. That summer, I was one of 30 people from around the world to receive a scholarship from the Russian government to attend a summer school of orthodox lands choir music in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was there for one month learning about Byzantine, Armenian and early Christian singing in the authentic mode; I traveled to the holy island of Valaam where I performed liturgy alongside 60 more people from around the world. Shortly after my return from Russia, I went to Spain where I began my studies. My master thesis, named Interaction and fusion of the Balkan music with flamenco served as basis for my compositions which I, two years later, started performing with the group Dusan Popovic Lipovac & Spona through the album called Reflections from the Mediterranean. Additionally, I started learning about the ins and outs of the guitar education system in Spain and began creating methodology of modern approach to learning the guitar which I named The way of the guitar. Before the end of my studies, I went to a journey visiting the famous flamenco landmarks, hoping to learn about the source of the authentic flamenco energy. On that journey I met a lot of people who taught me about the life of Roma, Hebrews, Muslims and Christians through history, discovering the connection between Iberia and Balkan to be much deeper than I originally thought. At one point of the journey I met Vicente Amigo, and I consider this to be one of the most important moments in my life to this day. After the journey, my vision turned back to the Balkans and I wished to return realizing there was so much more cultural richness to be discovered in my homeland.
I returned to Serbia, to my hometown of Kovin and started working on my compositions intensively. During this time, I went back to karate training as well. My karate master Aleksandar Djordjevic told me: you have chosen two of the most beautiful things in life – music and sport. In March of 2016 I received the black belt and rank of karate master when I began the new era of my life – in Belgrade. Soon after my arrival I began contacting my former colleagues and friends and created the ensemble Dusan Popovic Lipovac & Spona with a desire to fuse Balkan music with the elements from flamenco.
Currently, I am performing, composing, teaching guitar and orchestra, and working on a new educational book. Alongside my friends from Spona I am working on a series of concerts, which will consist of original compositions and arrangements of folk melodies from the two peninsulas, and the story goes on…