The penultimate rehearsal of the day was that of the Bosnia & Herzegovina entry, Lejla performed by Hari Mati Hari. Accompanied on stage by two girls and three men, all of whom are playing instruments as well as being vocalists. The song starts with a violin solo played by one of the girls, before lead singer Hajrudin Varesanovic starts on the vocals. At this point the backing group are mostly sitting down with their heads bowed down. As well as the violin, there is a guitarist, an accordionist, a mandolin player and one with a hand held drum. As the song builds up, the group join in, eventually discarding the instruments, and join arm in arm in a line behind Harjudin The whole performance was very effective and extremely well received by the audience present in the auditorium.
Shortly afterwards the Bosnia & Herzegovinan delegation faced their first press conference. After the introductions of the artists Hari Mata Hari and composer Zeljko Joksimovic, and a few words from each of them about how happy they were to be here in Athens and how pleased they were with the first rehearsal. It was time to show the video that had been filmed in the old part of the city of Mostar.
Then it was onto the questions. There were just as many questions for composer Zeljko Joksimovic as there was for singer Hari Mata Hari.The first question came from an Israeli fan.
Do you write out of pain, as both of your songs have been very sad, I find it hard to connect with them? "After my 2004 song, which was very successful in Israel, and my greetings to the Israeli singer as well. I felt the need to write a song for a great performer, who could do it justice, which I have with Hari Mata Hari".
The last few years have seen Bosnia & Herzegovina enter pop songs into the contest, why change to an ethnic song? The question was answered by the commentator of BiH TV "This year we decided not to have a competition. We just approached an artist, Hari Mata Hari, and he said 'Yes, I want to sing'. Then we decided what sort of song we should have. Its influenced by the Bosnian & Herzegovinan traditions. We don't pour out our sorrow in alcohol but in music. It has modern pop influences and we are also proud of our entry last year by Feminen".
You have represented Serbia & Montenegro in 2004, and now of course Bosnia & Herzegovina. Can we expect yout o compose a song for Slovenia and help get us votes to get into the final? "I would be glad to help Slovenia, if they invited me. Many things have happened in our country over the years, but music is here to connect us".
What happened in 1999, that you didn't represent Bosnia & Herzegovina? "The reason I did not go through was that it was disqualified, as it had actually been published before the contest. I had been working in Scandinavia between 1996 and 1999 for Warner Brothers, with about five performers, and without me knowing, one of these songs was put on a record by one of these performers… these things happen!"
Both of you are famous in the Balkan countries. How risky is it for you to participate, and for Zeljko particularly, having achieved a second place? Hari answered first "After twenty years of performing in a region of 25 million, and after visiting many countries, its something that will help my career, and I am proud to be here". Zeljko: "I feel great to be given one more chance, to show the culture and songs to a large population, after two years I feel the same as in 2004 and that Hari Mata Hari is presenting the song in Athens".
As a lot of time had been taken up with the translation of questions and answers for those on stage, there wasn't the opportunity to ask as many questions as would be expected in a press conference. It concluded with a photo opportunity. The second rehearsal of Hari Mata Hari will take place on Sunday afternoon at 16:45.