Ljubo Stipisic-Dalmata was born in 1938 in Split, but his roots are from the village Vrbanj on the island of Hvar.
I remember those days, in the late '80, when streams of tourist were walking across the Pjaca (the main square in Split town) in the summer twilight. That was the part of the day when klapas ( groups of singers who perform Dalmatian a capella songs) used to gather in organized or more often unorganized way on the frequented and acoustically tested parts of the Pjaca, usually under the city watch. Most of the walkers who were passing nearby didn't know for which purpose these people turned to each other in the circle, so that they didn't know they needed to become silent in order to hear extremely nice klapa song. The attention of the audience was not assured in advance.
At that time none of the klapa singing lovers didn't care very much for performances in front of the microphone; they appreciated much more the performances, whether organized or unorganized, without microphones, loudspeakers and kilometers of wire, the performances which didn't take place on the multi-purpose stages but in the acoustically best parts of the Diocletian's Palace in the moment and the way that suited klapas the best.
As a klapa wasn't usually remarked before performing and as it didn't seem that something were going to happen, I used to notice such a reaction of tourists that I'll never forget.
That jolly murmur produced by tourists was simply unconditionally silenced, so smoothly by spontaneous, mute harmonisation of walkers' senses of sound. The silence was complete in the moment when the first sounds were heard, although it was difficult to determine where they were coming from. Then people remained like rooted to the ground, fascinated and with face expressions that seemed deeply absorbing pleasent tones of singers' voices.
A wide range of feelings could be seen on the faces of the occasional, privileged audience. You could feel ranges of different voices: tenor, bass, baritone spanning two or three octaves, raising you into the air and then gently lowering, surprising you by their briskness or a higher tone floating somewhere above your head and then falling back into the circle that had been made by singers' bodies at the beginning - and finally becoming still.
For the next few minutes the klapa could't continue singing because their extraordinary performance met with loud applause that took so long. Afterwards the jolly murmur returned to the streets and everything was cyclically repeated : some voices from undeterminable direction were heard again, the voices that describe all traditional scenes of Dalmatia without exception. I am sure that many listeners wondered at that moment: "How did I deserve it?".
The song « Dalmatino poviscu pritrujena» ( Dalmatia exhausted by history) is accepted among Dalmatian people as a kind of Dalmatian anthem. It was written by Ljubo Stipisic- Dalmata.
For 50 years, like an archeologist with a brush, Ljubo Stipisic carefully removed dust from everything he considered valuable or interesting and inserted it into his book with the title « Anima Dalmatica». For all these years he gave his best to the klapa singing or it is better to say that he built in the past, the present and the future of klapa singing his exploring and collecting of everything valuable in Dalmatia.
He is called Father of Dalmatian klapa singing and his name is usually accompanied by an artistic title like musicologist, ethno-musicologist, conductor, music producer, poet and painter. Half century of Dalmatian klapa singing was followed by the ear and the eye of this great collectioner of everything that is Dalmatian.
Recently, klapa music has been present in very different sorts of commercial music. One of the musicians who included klapa singing in his work is the son of Ljubo Stipisic- Delmata, Zlatan Stipisic Gibonni.
Whether the inserting of the elements of klapa singing in different songs is an ephemeral trend, maybe an inventive way of keeping klapa singing in mind or pure commercialization of that sort of music, only time can tell.
It is certain that klapa singing enriches different pieces of music and that it can intensify the experience. It is also certain that Dalmatian klapa singing is the way of music performing which transmits best to the auditor the pure essence of Dalmatian soul.
I don't remember when I had last time the opportunity to hear quality live performing of Dalmatian klapa singing as I used to attend in the late '80, without microphone and loudspeaker, without attention of audience assured in advance. I regret it very much because I think that it is one of the most beautiful souvenirs of Dalmatia.