By turns wistful, touching and passionate, influenced by the gypsy traditions of his Prekmurje home, he brought diners to their feet to join him in songs which for many were familiar favourites.
Kreslin sang of a Slovenia that stretches from Goričko in the east to Piran on the Adriatic coast in the west – “not long, not broad, but deep!” He composes his own songs, often invoking the Mura river. In one he asks with haunting humility:
Instead of whom a flower blooms?
Instead of whom am I?
Whose song needs my voice?
In response to this poetic tour de force, those attending the dinner contributed a generous £496 in a raffle for the Barka charity for people with special needs in Slovenia, which the Society supports.
Ambassador Tadej Rupel welcomed the guests (the Slovenian Embassy kindly donated wine), and Chairman David Lloyd gave a brief talk on Preseren’s greatness. After Shirlie Roden performed Kam? (Whither?) in her own rendering, Kreslin sang O, Vrba, and members of the audience studying Slovene read English translations.
The evening before, Kreslin enchanted 120 diplomats invited by the Slovenian Embassy in London, likewise to mark Prešeren’s Day. What better ambassador for his country?
Photos by Ian Božič. For more pictures see Gallery.