Karmina Šilec’s new musical project draws on Balkan virgins

Maribor – Šema Elektro, a new project by Karmina Šilec, an acclaimed Slovenian conductor, director and composer, will premiere in Maribor on Saturday. Its storytelling is built on Balkan sworn virgins – women who take a vow of chastity to assume the man’s role in a patriarchal society – to explore the contemporary topics of gender and power.

The project combines music and theatre while breaking down the boundaries between various modes of expression on the stage.

Šilec conceived it as part of her BABA (Woman) series, which is based on her two books focussing on the Balkans – Colossal Balkan Fiction, and Catalogue.

Šema Ekektro features women’s voices, acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments and electronics, production house Carmina Slovenica says, adding that it is “a metaphor for the opening of thoughts, perceptions and experiences”.

The project will be performed by Kebataola, a 14-member vocal group Šilec set up in the early 2000s, while its storytelling is inspired by the concept of the Balkan gusle – a one-stringed instrument.

Kebataola will explore ways of communicating the political questions of gender and power in contemporary society through the idea of sworn virgins from the Balkans.

A day after the premiere, Šilec will receive the prestigious Music Theatre Now award at the Festival O. in Rotterdam for her Threnos, an international collaboration which premiered in Slovenia in March 2020.