Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: Balcony musician proves a hit with Dubai community

A musician has brought joy to his neighbourhood with traditional Serbian ballads

A Serbian musician captured the hearts of his community with an impromptu outburst of balcony singing, as hundreds of neighbours worked from home or self-quarantined.

Boki Prekovic, 45, found residents gathered on the path below his apartment in The Greens when he began playing a Serbian love song.

A neighbour's father recognised the song - a ballad named 'Svilen Konac' - and joined in.

A video that captured the moment was shared hundreds of times on community Facebook groups.

Now everyone's at home and aren't in so much of a rush. We're all trying to take our minds off what’s happening

Boki Prekovic

Hiba El Jardali, who stepped out of her home for a walk with her young son and was drawn to the sound of a Balkan accordion from the opposite apartment block on Tuesday.

“I just heard the music, looked up and saw the gentleman playing the accordion,” said the 43-year-old, who is from Lebanon and works for the United Nations.

“Then we noticed his neighbour opposite singing. Everyone was happy to see such positive vibes. Of course, like a lot of people, they were staying at home because of coronavirus, and it shows how the community here is supporting each other.”

The National tracked down Mr Prekovic and his wife Ksenija at their apartment.

The couple are both freelancers - a video producer and HR consultant respectively - and found themselves at home when their projects were put on hold.

Mr Prekovic was surprised when more than 20 people gathered around.

“I've been playing on this balcony for the past 11 years. But people walk by and don’t have the time to listen," he said.

"Now everyone's at home and aren't in so much of a rush. We're all trying to take our minds off what’s happening."

He does not know his singing partner but the neighbour recognised the ballad.

“We are from the same country and I was playing for him. I didn’t realise there were almost 30 people at one point. We played for more than an hour," Mr Prekovic said.

His choice of song is about love and loss and hope for the future.

"It’s a folk song, if you are from Ireland or Scotland you have [an] equivalent and [will] know it when you hear it," he said.

His wife Ksenija said despite the disruption to jobs, travel and worries for friends and family in Europe, they and their neighbours are in good spirits.

“We’ve been self-employed here [for] 15 years so it’s not our first rodeo, crisis-wise," she said.

"We don't know how long it’ll last, but I’m hoping what's happening in China - where things are going back to normal, people back to school and work - happens here soon.

"And I hope that in Europe there will only be two months of this. My mother is in Belgrade, where there is a state of emergency and everyone over 65 needs to stay in doors. It is harder on older people than people like us."

Updated: March 20, 2020 01:03 PM

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