Stari Most

We say the old bridge was a resting place for the sun, a symbol of all that is beautiful between people in Mostar.
He linked people from one side of Mostar to the other.
People came from far and wide to visit this wonder of the world.
Zehra Colic (citizen of Mostar)

An iconic medieval bridge…
…divers who plunge 24 metres into icy green water…
…a town torn apart by war…

Stari Most, written for soprano and baritone soloists, children’s choir and orchestra, is based on the story of the old bridge of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina. With a libretto by Peter Cann and music by Richard Chew, Stari Most is an intense and lyrical work, which carries at its heart a strong message of reconciliation.

Various People Inc presented Stari Most  at Her Majesty’s Theatre as the official closing concert of the Come Out Festival 2011. It was first performed at Salisbury Cathedral on the occasion of its 750th anniversary.

…an important musical moment… The music: excellent… The message: eternal.
The Advertiser

Congratulations, Stari Most was a powerful, emotional and wonderful sound… we want more… we want more!!!!
Audience member

The music was brilliant and refreshingly different from the usual fare, as well as all being rather enlightening…
Orchestral player





Presented in association with Come Out Festival 2011
Supported by Arts SA and State Opera of South Australia

Music: Richard Chew
Libretto: Peter Cann

Conductor: Richard Chew
Soprano: Joanna McWaters
Baritone: Douglas McNicol
Video: Alex McEwen
Childrens’ Choir: Young Adelaide Voices
Orchestra: Stari Most Chamber Orchestra

Producer: Cheryl Pickering
Production & Stage Manager: Ali O’Connell
Assistant Stage Manager: Bec Francis



Stari Most, the old bridge of Mostar, was built in 1566 at the height of the Ottoman Empire. It was destroyed in 1993 during the horrific disintegration of former Yugoslavia – tank shells sent chunks of mediaeval stone tumbling into the water. The loss of the ancient bridge, which linked the Muslim and Croat sectors of the town, ripped out the very heart of Mostar. The old bridge was reconstructed using stone from the original quarry and re-opened in 2004, but the social divisions remain.

For over 400 years, Mostar has hosted a diving contest on the bridge.  The divers plunge 24 metres into the icy green waters of the Neretva River, cheered on by spectators from the Bosniak (Muslim) and Croat communities, as well as participants from neighbouring countries and as far away as Mexico and Australia. Some of the divers died defending the bridge during the war. Now those who survived can dive again.

Mirsad (Deda) Pasic, one of the great divers of Mostar, gave freely of his time in the research leading to this piece. During a conversation between Richard and Deda, a group of local school children came singing across the bridge. Among them was Deda’s 9-year-old granddaughter, who is learning how to dive. Seeing Deda walking with his granddaughter on the bridge and hearing the children’s voices made a lasting impression on Richard. In Stari Most, a childrens’ choir sings the voice of the old bridge, an expression of its essence and of hope for the future.