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Biography

Marina Arsenijevic, who performs simply as Marina, is a Serbian-born pianist who escaped from the former Yugoslavia during the multinational war to dislodge dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 by disguising herself as an old woman. Before the war she had been a glamour girl of Yugoslav classical music, performing in skimpy outfits under rock-concert lighting on a transparent piano; some called her the Balkan Madonna.

Marina experienced various hardships before deciding to leave the country; she was forced to flee to a basement when bombs disrupted her rehearsal with the Serb National Philharmonic Orchestra and to play a concert within earshot of frontier fighting at the behest of the Serb military. "My best-selling composition, 'Kosovo,' was written as I felt trapped in limbo between life and death, not knowing whether I would finish it," Marina said.

Marina's exotic image and the ripped-from-the-headlines aspects of her story are unusual on their own, and her actual music is likewise distinctive. Given conventional classical training by a Russian instructor at the University for the Arts in Belgrade, Marina has described her music as classical crossover, Balkan soul, or ethno-classical. She delivers the pure virtuosity one would expect from her musical background. Marina herself has indicated that her music is a "blend of classical, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Slavic, and gypsy heritages with 21st century rhythms." Yet Newsday noted in reviewing her January 2003 New York debut (which was followed by a party at the home of shock novelist Tama Janowitz) that "American audiences might readily associate with jazz." Some of it might also be termed new age, some of it instrumental pop.

After coming to the U.S., Marina settled in suburban Detroit, MI, and announced the goal, according to her performing resumé, of becoming "the most recognizable pianist in the world and a renowned artistic voice for world unity."

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