Music for Music: Nina Platiša

Nina Platiša: Connectivity

By Dan Ursini

Composer/pianist Nina Platiša provides an assertive introduction to her music on her debut album, Za Klavir: For the Piano. No less than 26 original compositions for solo piano are included. Even more, Platiša collaborated on additional artistic presentations involving six of these songs. They serve as soundtracks for a half-dozen mini-films by independent filmmakers Marija Strajnić, Martin Edralin, Igor Drljača, Katarina Šoškić, Pavle Nikolić, and Charlie Carrick. The mini-films are available at this YouTube channel:

Platiša explains that most of these filmmakers have their own experience of diaspora—and that is a central element of her music and her life. She was born in Belgrade and spent her earliest years there. War compelled her family to search for a new life in Niagara Falls. Displacement affected her profoundly. Platiša explains, “When you grow up without some of your closest family, you lose an immediate community and miss out on experiences that cannot be substituted—birthdays, anniversaries, funerals.” She adds, “I’ve come to accept a sense of belonging as something that comes and goes for me.”

One of the films celebrates the world that Platiša knew as a child. Employing Za Klavir: No. 22, a charming song with spritely energy, filmmaker (and Platiša’s husband) Charlie Carrick fashioned a one-minute movie from home movie footage of Platiša as a young girl in folk costume, taking part in a children’s dance at a picnic. It is a buoyant occasion.

This album is infused throughout by Balkan musical culture. It is an incredible synthesis of musical traditions spanning the centuries; and it remains coherent and vital. As Platiša observes, it is “focused on a sense of connectivity.” She adds, “From Balkan music, one learns of collective celebration and adversity… There is often a sweet yet melancholic element inherent in some of my favorite Balkan music.”

That blend pervades a film by Igor Drljača paired with the brooding stateliness of Platiša’s Za Klavir: No. 7. Platiša’s music underscores the visual power of the immense rolling mountains of Vancouver, nearly deserted as the Omicron variant keeps the skiers away.

A highly charged ambiguity animates Za Klavir: No. 6, a film by Katarina Šoškić and Pavle Nikolić that uses a Platiša composition barely a minute long, filled with antic energy and momentum. The music flawlessly accompanies visuals of a beautiful and well-dressed young woman moving along a city street at a calm clip while frenetically touching her face; perhaps an epiphany of self-discovery? It is riveting.

Platiša’s gifts as a composer reveal a capacity to get right to the core of the matter. She observes, “Complexity has a way of grabbing people’s attention but it’s not what I’m naturally drawn towards…. When I write, I feel like I’m extracting the most essential parts of what I hear and feel.” That approach affects everything on Za Klavir: For the Piano. The music is confidently played; immediate in impact; and registers deeply in the listener’s memory. The individual compositions themselves are clear and strong and filled with abundant dramatic energy. Za Klavir: No. 9, is a good example. It is like a soundtrack for an internal monolog about a desperate situation. Quietly intriguing harmonies convey anxious moments. Tensions hang in the air. Gradually, a breakthrough occurs, and the mind can live with itself again. The music enacts these contours with considerable sensitivity.

It intrigues me that the album’s 26 songs are identified only by number. Platiša reflects, “I know that as I continue to move through life, the pieces will take on different meanings. Numbering the pieces allows them to grow alongside me.”

Designer Aleksandar Todorović has prepared a book combining musical compositions, personal photographs, and written reflections. It is available in eBook format and comes with a digital copy of the album and poster. Platiša says that “the book, album and physical screen-printed posters are currently available for sale through my website”

It seems to me that Platiša, through her music, this book collaboration, and the mini-films, is keeping alive the Balkan value of connectivity in the challenging circumstances of displacement and migration. She is adding a layer of artistic and social resilience where it is truly needed.


Dan Ursini and his wife Valerie live in Oak Park, Illinois. Over the years he has done many kinds of writing. Ursini served as the first resident playwright for the Steppenwolf Theatre of Chicago (1978-1983). His play, Sandbar Flatland, directed by John Malkovich, was produced in 1978 during the dawn of the legendary Off-Loop Theater scene in Chicago. In 1990 Chicago Magazine selected it as one of the ten best shows of the preceding 25 years. Beyond this, Ursini worked for ten years as a Contributing Editor for Puerto Del Sol magazine; he wrote performance art pieces presented at such Chicago venues as Club Lower Links and Club Dreamerz. Ursini wrote radio theatre presented on NPR in the early 1990s. Throughout all this, he has worked full-time at the Law Library at DePaul University where for a decade he also wrote articles for Dialogue, the DePaul law school’s alumni publication. In addition, he was active for some years as a bass guitarist in various Chicago blues/gospel/funk/lounge configurations. Currently Ursini is working on his latest novel. A play he wrote with Robert Rothman, A Mensch Among Men, a fictionalized account of real-life Jewish Chicago-area gangsters, has had two staged readings in Chicago. Dan can be reached at:

Nina Platiša’sWebsite

Nina Platiša on Instagram

Nina Platiša at Facebook

Nina Platiša at Bandcamp

Nina Platiša on Spotify


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