Marko Djordjevic

Associate Professor
Affiliated Departments

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Called a “world class drummer” and “a true innovator” by Modern Drummer magazine, Marko Djordjevic has played on more than 50 albums and has thousands of live performances to his credit. He has performed or recorded with a long list of accomplished musicians, including Matt Garrison, Wayne Krantz, Jonah Smith, Clarence Spady, Lucky Peterson, Bill Frisell, Lionel Loueke, and Aaron Goldberg. Djordjevic writes music inspired by the rich musical tradition of his Balkan roots, with a nod to Western artists that have influenced him, from Coltrane and Weather Report to Zappa and the Police.

Career Highlights
  • Leader of SVETI
  • Extensive international touring as leader and sidemen with SVETI, the Kung Fu Masters, Matt Garrison, Wayne Krantz, Michael Henderson, Jonah Smith, Clarence Spady, Lucky Peterson, Jacques Schwartz-Bart, Garry Willis, Hal Crook, Lionel Loueke, Aaron Goldberg, the Itals, Chris McDermott, Eric Lewis, Eli Degibri, and many others
  • Performed at Woodstock 1999 with Chris McDermott
  • Recording credits include Jonah Smith, Chris McDermott, Amit Heri, Justin Mullens, Jonas Taubert, Kung Fu Masters, Matt Garrison, Sten Hostfalt, Billy Voss, Clara Lofaro, Dwiki Dharmawan, Ole Mathisen, Bree Sharp, Don Dilego, and many others
  • Recipient of Berklee Zildjian Scholarship (1991)
  • U.S. Federal Grant (2015)
  • Released critically acclaimed video Where I Come From and book The New Frontier
  • Chapter dedicated to him in the book New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today's Living Legends and Artists of Tomorrow by Cicily Janus
In Their Own Words

"Before I came to Berklee, I had two great mentors, both of them really good musicians and teachers. One brought an awareness of how the instrument should be played; he stressed control, relaxation, keeping solid time, getting a great sound. The other helped me nurture my musical intuition and the creative spark by turning me on to the great improvisers of our time. Both mentors stressed musicality as the only viable starting point. This is what I strive to impart to my students. There has to be a musical idea first and foremost! There are times when I will stress the importance of the mechanics (technique), but only as a means to make better music. As Joe Hunt, one of my teachers at Berklee, used to say, ‘Technique is a vehicle which makes it possible for your musical idea to come across.’"

"My group Sveti, which I started as a student here at Berklee, has gone through many incarnations over the past 20 years, always with top-notch musicians. I write all the music for my group, and since I never had any formal training in composition, you could say my composing is largely intuitive; however, the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years makes me feel like I do know a thing or two about writing music. And since improvisation is really on-the-spot composition, I encourage anyone, whatever instrument they play, to try composing—just to see what they come up with. I also tell all aspiring musicians they should have at least some experience with piano and the drums. Rhythm, harmony, and melody are very clearly laid out on these two instruments."

"As a performer, the most important thing for me is to inspire people to find something fulfilling in their own lives. I try to inspire and encourage my students as well. These days—somewhat understandable given the current economic climate—many kids are worried about how they are going to make a living as musicians. But having a life in music is very different from making a living at it. To me, survival and a fulfilling life are not one and the same. (I’m not saying they are mutually exclusive, though!) And if you’re going into music, music should come first, not money (or fame, social status, etc.). Great art can only come from an individual who feels like there are no plans to fall back on. Sincerity, integrity, desire, focus and love should shape your music—and your life."