Inked upon the nape of the neck of Ana Rucner is a proudly-displayed tattoo of a cello. To witness the Croatian maestro in concert leaves you certain that the instrument is also imprinted upon her heart. Passion and vigour collide in modern classical fusion, as the svelte, statuesque beauty bends the bow over the strings and wraps a spellbound audience around her finger. The fury and frenzy is note-perfect, controlled and mesmerising, her flowing black locks animated as they bounce upon energetic shoulders. With a video backdrop of soaring scenes from her native Croatia, your eyes are torn. Which breath-taking sight do you focus upon?
Home Is Where the Art Is
Growing up in a family steeped in musical ability inspired Ana to emulate her parents’ achievements, as she saw their success and immediately fell in love with the thought of a similar lifestyle. Her mother Snježana is a solo cellist with the Croatian National Theatre orchestra, while her father Dragan is a violinist and soloist with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. “Watching my mother as I grew up, I saw this beautiful, talented woman, a perfect wife and mother and a perfect cellist too. I aspired to be like her,” shares Ana. Her parents acted as both music teachers and mentors who could not only empathise but also support, having experienced the pressures of the industry.
From a formal music education that began at the tender age of 7, Ana has ascended to the rank of Cello Professor at the Academy of Music in the University of Zagreb. She recalls her early performances fondly. “I can remember my first recital clearly. My tutor insisted on public participation in contests to build confidence. I was about seven, and my teacher was helping me with the fingers on the strings but even then, at an early age, I felt an immense amount of freedom when being upon stage.” Just as with the audience, one escapes in the lingering notes that echo through the concert hall.
Symphony and Scenery
To serve as a link to the outside world, Ana ensures that her music is intricately entwined with another passion of hers – her homeland. As an ambassador for the country, Ana promotes the beauty of her native Croatia whenever she can, especially in her artistic videos which play in the background at her concerts. From the picturesque coastal region depicted in her rendition of Jacques Offenbach’s ‘Can Can’ to the streets of Zagreb in her version of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata, scenes of Croatia provide a perfect complement to the soaring strings of her cello, and vice versa.
Bright blue skies with mountainous vistas and beautiful streets bathed in moonlight show the spectrum of the landscape, and Rucner enthuses about Croatia. “Croatia is a beautiful and special place. The people are gorgeous and as well as sharing my love and passion for music, I want to show the whole world the beauty of my country.”
Ana has achieved an unparalleled level of popularity in her native land through her solo concerts, as well as performances at various cultural events. Adored by her people, she received the honorary status of a free artist in 2008, joining an exclusive club of individuals whose popularity and huge fan base makes Croatian culture recognisable worldwide.
Take a Bow
With a string of accolades under her belt, Rucner is creating a storm in the classical genre – and enjoying every minute. “Every performance is so special, and every audience engages in a different way. From Israel to Italy and India to Japan, every experience is exciting, and I cherish all the memories.” On the horizon for Ana is, she hopes, collaboration with some classical vocalists. “They say that the cello is the closest sounding instrument to the male human voice, so I would love to indulge in a duet to see how that would sound… accompanied by tourist scenes of Croatia, of course”, she adds with a smile.
Ana Rucner is a woman on a mission, with a steely determination to accomplish everything she turns her hand toward. A perfect ambassador for her country she is role-model of enviable stature, with looks, heart and, of course, a wealth of musical talent. One thing is for certain – a determined Ana will not rest until she has put classical music, and her beloved Croatia, firmly on the map.