Opa Bato! is the only ‘Trubacki Orkestar’ in Australia, performing authentic contemporary Balkan brass music from the rich traditions of Serbia, Macedonia and beyond. Since the early 1800s, this music, with its energetic rhythms, soaring melodies and wild Turkish-influenced improvisations, has accompanied major events in the cultural life of these regions. Dushan Mitrovic, a composer and performer originally from Serbia/Czech Republic, formed Opa Bato to showcase the unique fusion of European and Oriental conceptions of this music.
Opa Bato began in 2009 with a first performance at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne. Performance highlights have included the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, High Vibes Music Festival, Darebin Music Feast and the Antipodes Hellenic Festival. The band has appeared at venues including the Arts Centre, the Spiegeltent, Brutale, and has held long-term residencies at Bar 303 Northcote (2009-14) and Farouk’s Olive Thornbury (2012 – 2018). Opa Bato have performed at hundreds of private functions including weddings, parties and cultural festivals. The band has recorded one full-length album: ‘Autobus Romantika’ (2010) available on CD.
The distinctive music of the Balkans is the result of European and Eastern musical traditions meeting and cross-pollinating over many centuries. Southern Serbia is home to the ‘Trubacki Orkestar,’ also heard in the wider Balkan region and now the rest of Europe and beyond. While there are slow and evocative ballads, the music is often fast, frenetic and compellingly danceable.
Opa Bato is a unique blend: it features two virtuoso expatriate musicians who grew up immersed in the musical traditions of Serbia and Macedonia, collaborating with several Australian-born musicians who make up the rest of the band. The non-Balkan band members bring a range of experience and expertise from their respective performance careers in a range of styles, as well as their cultural backgrounds, including Lebanese, Czech, Norwegian, English, Irish, German, Dutch, Indonesian and Australian.