HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT
Dada Ruža was born in Varaždin. She received her secondary education from Varaždin First Grammar School, while also attending the Varaždin School of Music. She continued her studies at Zagreb Music Academy where she studied conducting under Professor Igor Gjadrov. She graduated from Hermann Zilcher Conservatory (harpsichord).
She started working at the Varaždin School of Music in 1985. She has attended seminars given by renowned music educators (both local and international) to further strengthen her knowledge in the fields of her interests, especially choir leadership, conducting and historical performing practice.
In her career as a teacher at the Varaždin School of Music she has taught over ten different subjects in the field of music. She established the very first elective harpsichord classes. She has also performed as a harpsichordist with the Varaždin Baroque Ensemble in Croatia and abroad. She currently teaches playing scores, conducting and harpsichord, leads the female, male and mixed choirs, conducts and leads the School string orchestra and the vocal octet. She currently serves as Head of the Music Theory Department. In her work music education, artistic performance and scientific research are intertwined.
As the choir conductor of the Varaždin School of Music, she has achieved great results both at national and international competitions. The female School choir under her leadership performed at the following events:
• Croatian Competition of Students of Music and Dance, where she won two second place awards and three first place awards
• Croatian Youth Music Festival (Glazbene svečanosti hrvatske mladeži), where she won three Golden Plaques and twice the Interim Cup awarded by the Croatian Composers’ Society for the best performance of a piece written by a Croatian composer.
• Azzano Decimo International Choir Competition in Italy, where she won first place and a special award given only to the best conductors.
• Celje International Youth Singing Festival, where she won the Golden Plaque and the special award for the best performance of a piece written by a master composer of the period.
Under her leadership the mixed choir of the Varaždin School of Music gave a performance at the 2014 Zagreb Choir Competition and won silver plaques in two different categories. For her performance of the oratorio “Prijenos sv. Dujma“ at the 1999 Varaždin Baroque Evenings, led by Pavle Dešpalj, the choir received the “Ivan Lukačić“ Festival Award.
With the School choir, she has participated in many successful competitions throughout Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and the UK. Her most important international engagement remains her work with the Ravensburg School of Music and the performance at the respectable London Handel Festival. In the Varaždin School of Music she established the vocal octet, which performed at the National Competition of Students of Music and Dance and won second place and successfully preformed in Croatia, Germany and the UK.
From 2007 to 2013 she also led several non-school affiliated choirs, such as the Mixed Choir of the Trades and Crafts Society which, under her leadership, won several awards at the Festival of Varaždin County Choirs (Smotra zborova Varaždinske županije) and successfully performed at the Gathering of Croatian Choirs, as well as at concerts all over Croatia and Hungary.
One of the non-school affiliated choirs led by her was the Varaždin Croatian National Theatre Chamber Choir, which gave a memorable performance in the show “Mislibolesnik iliti hipokondrijakuš“. The choir performed music written by M. A. Charpentier under the production of Saša Britvić in 2015.
Dada Ruža collaborates with many Croatian and foreign associations and establishments in the field of music, music education and scientific research. She has collaborated with many professional, students’ and teachers’ orchestras. Her most significant work in this field is with the Ravensburg School of Music and with the “Aestas Musica” International Summer School of Baroque Music and Dance. On her initiative Aestas Musica was held in Varaždin every year, from 1999 to 2015. She spent several years working in collaboration with the Education and Teacher Training Agency as a lecturer at professional meetings, as well as Chair of the Inter-County Music Teachers’ Council. While collaborating with the Scientific Research Institute, which is part of the Varaždin Branch of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, she produced several professional and scientific papers. She initiated the first international research meeting on the life and work of Johann Baptist Wanhal on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his death. Her scientific papers and printed sheet music have been published by Encyclopaediae modernae, the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the Croatian Youth Music Festival.
She has taken part in evaluation committees at national and international competitions of professional and amateur choirs and orchestras. She has also served on the jury of the Varaždin Baroque Evenings. In 2015 she received the City of Varaždin Award for her life’s work.