Being born into a family of musicians, music accompanied me from the first breath and first steps.
My mother’s absolutely right idea was that I should start to play the piano as my main instrument. I, indeed, suddenly decided I wanted to play the violin! One of the reasons for my decision was surely the fact that my father was playing it.
At the age of eight I started to learn the violin and, sincerely, for many years I hated it, practicing too little if at all.
One anecdote my teacher told my mother: once I arrived to the lesson with a particularly sad expression on my face. My teacher asked me what had happened and I answered that my violin had fallen on the street. Worried she asked me if the instrument was perhaps broken and my short reply was: “Unfortunately not!”.
And then, suddenly, the “miracle” happened: when I started to learn piano (as obligatory, second, instrument in the music school), I made enormous progress and at the beginning of the sixties (1962), I founded my own Rock band “Pirati” (later "Uskoci"). This my playing the piano on stage was crucial in “falling in love” with music and choose it definitively as my profession and vocation.
Through the satisfaction of being able to play the piano, even in public, and the definitive change of my violin teacher, my attitude to violin changed too, and after finishing my short rock “career”, I began to make further progress practicing like mad and making two years of the music school in just one. I also started to compose and to dream about becoming a conductor like my father. One day I heard that the youth chamber orchestra, led by a renowned pedagogue and cellist prof Rudolf Matz, was looking for musicians, particularly violists. So, I decided to study the viola instead of violin, at the beginning with the same teacher.
My uncle and renown cellist Zvonimir Pomykalo (for most of his life memeber of the famous chamer ensemble "Zagreb Soloist") taught chamber music on my music school and I started to play the kind of music I liked the most: a lot of it from the baroque and classical period. Together with other three colleagues, we won the third prize on a Croatian music schools competition.
In the summer of 1966 I became a regular member of the Zagreb Radio and TV Symphony orchestra. Shortly after that I started my studies of the viola on the Academy of Music in Zagreb where I made the diploma in 1970.
Although my first contacts with the so called "early or ancient music" (further EM) happened already in 1964, I made my first serious steps in that direction in 1969 in Grožnjan, learning from the members of the renowned German/American ensemble “Studio der frühen Musik” from Munich. Soon after that, I founded my first EM ensemble "Universitas Studiorum Zagrabiensis" and was leading it until 1983 and my moving to Vienna, Austria. With USZ we made various concerts, recordings and music tours all over Europe (France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, UK) and former Soviet Union. We used to have our own series of early music concerts in Gornji Grad (old upper town) in Zagreb and a kind of school for young singers, players and dancers, interested in the music and the culture of past times.
In ten years, between 1973 and 1983, I was several times working and living as a freelance artist thanks to the subsidy from the Cultural Council in Zagreb; because of finacial limitations, especially after Tito died and a very restrictive policy emerged in the culture, I had to go back to my post in the Radio TV orchestra, which was always very helpful and full of understanding.
Later, when the last sparks of the relative “democracy” in former Yugoslavia began to vanish, I started to look for a way to leave the country, trying to find a job in any orchestra all over Europe. At the end of 1982, the “Clemencic Trio” from Vienna played a concert in Zagreb and had a tour in several other Croatian cities. I heard that René Clemencic was searching for a medieval fiddle player. After their concert and a pleasant supper with them and with my wife Mira in the beautiful Esplanade hotel in Zagreb, around midnight I played the audition for Clemencic Consort. After they left, the waiting and ups and downs started until one day René’s wife called and gave me the dates for my first concerts with them at the beginning of 1983!
In the summer of 1983, I decided to permanently move to Vienna and try “my luck” there. The price was rather high, as always in my private and professional life: I left the sure and permanent post in the orchestra, my small nice apartment in the center of Zagreb, a certain career and achievements, my family, friends and my homeland. Everyone who made similar decisions and experiences will understand what it means to start a new life and career being almost 37 years old and a complete stranger.
Only five later, in 1988, Mira and me received the Austrian citizenship as a significant artists.
In Vienna I started a long and prolific artistic collaboration with several Austrian and European ensembles for early music, particularly "Clemencic Consort", "Les Menestrels", my own "Ensemble Lyra Wien" (together with my wife, the Croatian singer Mira Valenta), “Ensemble Daedalus” and “Micrologus”.
Ethno or so called world music and improvisation to modern dance:
Already at the beginning of my early music career, I came in touch with Croatian traditional folk music, particularly the one from Istria and Dalmatia, later also from Slavonia and Bosnia, especially with the music of Sephardic Jews. This last kind of music fascinated and inspired me during my whole professional music career up to now.
I developed my own way of improvisation, partly based on Croatian traditional folk music. The fact is that especially in the case of medieval music we have to little of information or they simply doesn´t exist and we have to improvise using our musical instict and experience. Unlike in the case of the more recent styles of music the musicians (instrumentalists or singer) have almost always to be at the same time creative "arranger" - almost composer - improviser and msicologist. Those, very important things I certainly could not learn during my normal academic studies but through my own experiments and concerts. See also under "Multiinstrumentalist" on this page.
My experience with improvisation helped me a lot in the late nineties and later in the recordings and performances with the Austrian guitarist Walter Valdinho Langer, the Israeli singer Ruth Yaakov, the Austrian singer Lena Rothstein and, last but not the least, the Austrian modern dance ensemble “Tanz Atelier Wien”.
Like many other musicians, I have started my first recordings already 50 years ago, beginning with the open-reel tape recorder and later with a music tape cassette recorder (first mono than stereo). Thanks to this fact, I preserved a lot of first recordings of both my EM ensembles: “USZ” and “Ensemble Lyra Wien”.
Around 1999/2000 I made for the first time some experiments with PC recording, as the prices for the necessary devices, audio interfaces and software became affordable even for the “normal” consumer.
Due to some health problems, I decided to leave my “life on stage” and to end my collaboration first with “Clemencic Consort” (after 22 years), and then with “Daedalus” and “Micrologus”. My last concert in front of public I performed together with my dear prof. Eduard Melkus in late 2007, in Vienna.
My serious occupation with the so-called Home recording gave to me an ideal possibility to remain in an active contact with music until today.
In the years 2006/2007 I have made various recordings of Sephardic music, using my digital recorder BR-864. These recordings were later the basis for the double CD edition I finished in October 2016.
From spring 2008, I have started several online courses at “HOFA Studios” and “Audiocation” (both in Germany). I learned the basics of various recording techniques, music production, drums programming, vocals and vintage editing and song composing. At the end of it I graduated on the highest level, i.e. I became “Audio Engineer Professional”.
In Spring 2009 I held a two day seminar on both Lira da braccio and Lira da gamba for the students of the musicology at Zagreb Academy of Music; for this opportunity I made donation of couple od DVDs and CDs with the material prepared especcially for this seminar as well as several of my early instruments (two viols, a renaissance lute) to this institution.
In the years 2010 - 2015, with the great help of my niece Giuliana Gerini, we prepared and uploaded almost fifty videos to YouTube channel (see under Multimedia/Videos), started my FB group IPs LIRAFORUM, uploaded lot of my music (arranged or composed) on SoundCloud and helped with advices to potential Liras players over the world (Europe, North and South America and Canada) and continued to work on various projects - devoted to Early, traditional or modern (blues, funk, fusion, rock etc.) music.
In the Fall of 2016, as already said, my double CD devoted to the traditional music of Sefardi Jews has come out. A year later, in the Fall of 2017, another of my long standing/living projects devoted to the “Cantigas de Santa Maria” came out on a CD - primarily meant as a special gift for my nice Giuli 50th birthday - and has been sent as a gift to my/ our best friends, family and colleagues - same as a Sefardi CDs in 2016.
The 2018 has been extremely busy and let' s say prolific too: finally (again with the great help of Giuliana) I finished the substantially updated English version of my Liras project and decided it will be the last one in the line, started as a scientific project at the Vienna University of Music in the 1996... Finishing that, I started the new project under the working title "Introduction to the Liras Playing" (still in the process) and prepared a vast choice from my artistic archives (Igor Pomykalo Archives) which I donated together with a bigger part of my musicological library, staff music and CDs to the Academy of Music in Zagreb. In the Fall of same year, I prepared a paper on "How to Improvise on both Liras"with lot of music examples for my dear colleague, an excellent Italian singer and scholar, Patrizia Bovi and her "Lira Summit" in French Royamont Abbey. Almost all of materials mentioned you can find (and download for free, as usual) under My Projects on this HP.
All those activities gained interest, feedback (YT, SC) or active members (FB) and this gives to me and to both of us, a great satisfaction that one can serve the "world village or comunity" in many ways and even if being in the eight decade of her or his life.
In the moment, I am again working on several projects: making the choice and preparing the material which will be published during my 50. Years EM activities - on this HPage and announced on FB, SC and YT - and as a DVD with the best of best... I continue with the project "Introduction to the Liras Playing", finishing a CD (started last year) and devoted to my beloved Dalmatia, "Dalmatia 4 Ever" and preparing several concerts with my dear friend and collegue Igor Paro and his Zagreb EM group "Jerolim", with the programme devoted to the 450. anniversary of the 1st edition of the Croatian writer Petar Zoranić' s work "Planine" ("Mountains").