Rituals and popular beliefs in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Medieval Bosnia fascinates us with its traditions and various religions that coexisted in such a small country: Catholics, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims, but also heretical Christian Bosnians… Their texts and liturgical traditions survive in mysterious manuscripts in Latin, Cyrillic, Glagolitic script… but also in oral tradition, chant and rituals. In this programme, Dialogos meets traditional cantors, among them one of today’s youngest epic singers in Herzegovina, to seek peace and meaning in this land that was devastated by wars and hatred with still visible scars.


The key idea of this new program uniting voices and instruments, is the beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega. The creation of the world and the end of the world. Birth and death, benedictions and maledictions, invocations of angels, exorcism of evil spirits, songs accompanied by traditional instruments summoning the spirits to help a child’s birth… all these prayers reflect ancient rituals full of pagan elements and are punctuated by dissonant polyphonic chants (in ganga style).

Video by Franck Alfirevic. Excerpts from Heretical Angels concert at the Montalbane festival, June 2019.

These poignant and strong canticles intertwine in a story verging on musical theatre and invite the public to follow pagan and Christian rites surrounding birth and death. Inscriptions from tombstones in Bosnia (called stećci), monuments through which the dead speak to the living, appear as a haunting poetic puncuation leading us through this country at the gateway to the East.

Programme with super-titles


Katarina Livljanić, voice & direction
Albrecht Maurer, fiddle, rebec
Norbert Rodenkirchen, flutes


Joško Ćaleta, voice & direction
Jure Miloš, voice, gusle, diple, dvojnice
Srecko Damjanović, voice
Nikola Damjanović, voice
Milivoj Rilov, voice

Scenario and text adaptation : Katarina Livljanić
Musical reconstruction : Katarina Livljanić and Joško Ćaleta
Staging: Sanda Herzic
Philological advisers : Marina Šimić, Marija Ana Dürrigl