Throughout history, music has played a very important role in the formation of various cultures in society. Every musician has his own unique way of expressing what is in the depths of his inner world. New York-based musician Nemanja Rebic is one such artist who expresses his distinctive style with rich texture and emotion.
This talented musician has toured and performed across Europe, the United States of America, and India. He has also received private mentorship from some of India’s esteemed maestros, like mridangam player Vidwan M. Vasudeva Rao, Carnatic vocalist G. Ravikiran, and sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan.
Rebic was born in Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia. For him, music came naturally, and it has played a major role throughout the course of his life.
In an interview with NTD.tv, Rebic says, “The night I was born, my mother heard a band playing outside on the terrace of a hotel close to the hospital.”
Rebic feels that since then, it seems like music became his companion. He recalls that as a toddler, he would often ask his parents to play his favorite song and would tend to move with the beat. As he got a little older, he started to play guitar on a tennis racket, and at the age of 12, he found a broken guitar and started strumming. Knowing his deep passion for music, Rebic’s parents then bought him a cheap guitar from a store nearby.
In the end of 2006, Rebic’s life took a major turn. He visited India for a period of six months in order to fulfill his teenage dream of learning one of the oldest and the most complex musical systems in the world—the Carnatic music.
In Bangalore, Rebic decided to study percussion and singing in order to really understand music on a deeper level. With this, he thought he would apply this knowledge to the guitar. In the time spent in India, he had the honor of learning music from a well-known mridangam player—Vidwan M.Vasudeva Rao.
Rao has trained 4,000 students and has received many awards for his dedicated service to Carnatic music.
Talking about Rao, Rebic says, “He is a very sincere and humble person and I loved that quality in him. He would tell me that I have very rhythmical brain which was a great compliment for me. I learned a lot from him in those 6 months and he gave me tons of material to bring home, things I’m still learning to this day.”
Rebic finds the music industry in India very unique and has a deep sense of appreciation to the classical music industry.
He says: “Carnatic music is rooted in spirituality and is all about showing reverence to higher beings, though it has changed a lot in the last century in terms of form and the attitude artists display when they perform. I personally feel it is up to the artist whether the righteous principles will manifest in the music.”
Anyone who has had the opportunity to hear Rebic play would agree to the fact that he has a distinctive style, which incorporates the unconventional style of percussive techniques with rich texture that portrays deep emotion.
As an acclaimed artist, Rebic strongly believes that “great art comes from a pure heart,” and thus tries his best to bring out different feelings and stories through his various compositions.
When being asked about where he finds his inspiration to his melodious journey, he says he owes it to the spiritual practice of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong). Rebic was introduced to the practice in the year of 2007 from a lady on a bus in New York City.
“I went online to check out the link to the webpage that she sent me in her email and I liked what I saw on there. Few days after, I learned the exercises and read the whole book ‘Zhuan Falun’ in one go,” says Rebic. “The book has so many fascinating facts in it and it gives answers to some major questions about the principles of the universe.”
The practice not only brought out his compassionate side but has also benefited him both physically and mentally. He says, “It has made me strive to become a better person in every way, and follow truth, compassion and tolerance in my thoughts and actions. It strengthens my resolve and enables me to look at adversity in a positive way, as something, that helps me improve my character.”
Falun Dafa was introduced in China in 1992. Due to its immense health benefits, in just a couple of years, more than 70 million to 100 million people were practicing its peaceful meditative exercises in China alone.
When Rebic heard first time about the persecution that Falun Dafa faces in the hands of the communist party, he simply couldn’t believe it.
“I was saddened, shocked, and I couldn’t understand it. It didn’t make sense to me. Thus, I started to spread awareness about the persecution through some musical pieces I wrote. I also join some activities and concerts in New York City in order to tell people the facts about the persecution.”
Rebic also tries to bring out the inspiring stories of courage and perseverance that Falun Dafa practitioners in China display—”Rose of Tiananmen” is one such musical piece.
He says, “I wrote this in dedication to a lady in a red coat that I saw on the cover for a movie ‘Decade of courage.’ She is standing there with a serene look on her face holding a banner, while the policemen are heading towards her. She was most likely tortured to death in detention since she was never seen again after that. By looking at this photo, one could see her courage and compassion—it is truly amazing.”
An artist’s work is usually tied closely to his personal values that are reflected in every note or composition—and Rebic is no different.
He says, “Who you are as an artist is what you put in your art. It is very powerful and even supernatural when it comes to the effect it can have on people. Great art stresses virtue, a sense of propriety, contentment, joy, wisdom, self-restraint, enthusiasm, sincerity, compassion, and the most of all humility.”
With every soul-stirring note that is played, this world-class virtuoso guitarist is touching hearts and spreading the message of hope, one beat at a time.
Watch the musical video below:
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Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) is a self-improvement meditation system based on the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. It was introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in 1992 in China. It is currently practiced by over 100 million people in 114 countries. But this peaceful meditation system is being brutally persecuted in China since 1999. For more info, please visit: falundafa.org and faluninfo.org.