Dalmatian Klapa in Split, Croatia
Heritage towns can do so much more than just polish up vintage architecture and burnish the museum exhibits. The challenge is to turn significant history into a living part of today. Congratulations Split!
With a group like Dalmatian Klapa, the traditional music of the region comes alive and creates a really solid link between today and history.
Singing outdoors in what seems to be a perfectly designed open dome that suits their voices, the Group add energy and humour to their very professional voices. The tenor, of course, is the lead but the wonderful support of the other 3 singers gives him a perfect base to present exciting music.
The presentation is free although you're welcome to buy one of their CDs. For Japanese, Korean and especially Chinese tour groups who may not have heard this style of music before, it can be a revelation. It is the only time we have ever heard silence from an Asian tour group. One Filipina said it was like music from heaven but it's not the staid, old Gregorian music. It's the energetic summary of village experience and it is the definition of toe tapping and smiling engagement.
The songs aren't long so the tour guides don't stare at their watches but if you want to lean against a brick wall at the back of the Dome, you can listen to a variety of music and really feel the energy and happiness of the singers.
If they catch you humming ro bom-bom-booming, you're co-opted into the quartet and invited to burble along in the deep background.
What are the experiences that you remember after seeing your umpteenth Roman ruin or another small museum? What you remember is what engaged you and involved you and lets you become part of the history as a participant and not just a spectator.
The Dalmatian Klapa group and others like it in other cities are doing this and changing tourism from a passive following of the flag bearing guide to a much more active appreciation of the environment of history.
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