Damir Halilić, more casually known as Hal (pronounced ‘Hall’ in English), is a professional musician from Rijeka, Croatia. Hal has published three critically-acclaimed albums to date. His latest effort, the new 3-disc project entitled, Trilogy, will soon be released. Trilogy is predicted to be one of the largest projects in Croatian discography. Over the past few years, a great deal of Hal’s music has received airplay on radio stations around the world. His music could be heard over the airwaves in the United States, Australia, and Europe. This hard-earned recognition came after Hal performed several stellar concerts abroad. Hal has played and collaborated with many of the world’s top guitarists. A lot of these artists have expressed their deep appreciation for his music and hold his work in high-regard. Most recently, he has gained notoriety for his concert-organizing abilities on the Croatian circuit, the crown jewel being his self-named extravaganza, Hal’s All Star Guitar Festival, which has become an annual event and created in cooperation with the city of Rijeka.
Hal's musical background began with his enrollment in music school in his hometown of Rijeka. At an early age, he studied classical guitar and later played mandolin in his primary school band. During high school, he played guitar in many local bands.
At the end of the 1980's, Hal became a member of the group, Public, which was an unusual merger of theatre performers and musicians. Public’s music reached the top of many Croatian radio and TV hit-lists. The band also performed live concerts internationally (Italy, Switzerland, and France) and received fantastic reviews. Despite the group’s early success, recording companies declined to publish their material and nothing further developed to elevate Public’s music from the demo phase.
As a result of this setback, Hal and the rest of the Public began to compose music for theatre plays and puppet shows. In 1989, the group was invited to participate in an international puppet-theatre festival in France. There, they acted as ‘live-sound background’ for many performances and composed multiple musical scores at this time. In fact, Hal’s compositions Ambiental and La Mia Fata from the Gemini album date from this period, although in altered arrangements. These very songs were played live during many of Public's concerts. Over the following years, the individual members of Public and others associated with the band were cited repeatedly in recognition of their artistic achievements. These distinctions contained both Croatian theatre and musical origins.
After Public’s break up, Hal continued composing musical scores for theatre plays. Simultaneously, he began to work as a studio musician, and to this day, his guitar playing can be heard on the tracks of several popular Croatian musicians. This positive experience eventually paved the way for his future solo-recording success.
The majority of Hal’s first solo-recordings were made in Rijeka. A few were cut abroad in Sweden. Most of the initial material was recorded in the Italian language in collaboration with the poet, Professor Laura Marchig, and singer Bruno Nacinovich. Bruno is a member of an Italian Drama ensemble that performs as a part of the Croatian Folk Theatre. The compositions Donne Di Toscana and Il Tempo per Domarsi il Cuore," re-released on Hal’s Gemini CD, were made during this early phase. These particular songs were performed live at several Italian festivals and received very favorable reviews. In fact, some noteworthy Italian musicians have covered the song Donne Di Toscana on their own releases.
In the second half of the 1990's, Hal played with many commercial bands throughout Europe. He also performed as a guitarist in the backing bands of many Croatian mainstream musicians. When time allowed, he composed and arranged music for the Rijeka children’s choir, and soon after, he developed his own guitar school, which is based on a continuing educational system. Many of Hal's students have gone on to become very successful artists in the Croatian music industry.
Instrumental experimentation, technical proficiency, and practical study of noted guitar compositions resulted in the recording of Hal’s first all-acoustic album, Ocean, which was produced by Dancing Bear Records. The entire production contained strictly solo guitar compositions and for his effort, Hal received phenomenal critical reviews from some of the most highly-regarded guitarists in the world. Hal used Ocean’s success and the subsequent live tour to highlight the acoustic guitar as an unaccompanied instrument for the first time in Croatia.
At his first performance at Rijeka's National Theatre, Hal displayed his unique concept of a solo guitar concert. This show stood out from other guitar concerts in many ways. The first difference was that several types of the instrument were played: the standard acoustic, the 12-string acoustic, the classic, and the electric guitar. The second obvious difference was that a distinct, historical dimension was added to the repertoire by the inclusion of compositions from a variety of eras and genres. The tunes included classical music scores, blues compositions developed in the U.S.A.’s Mississippi River delta during the 1920's, and Scott Joplin's ragtime standards. The performance also featured Celtic dance pieces and a rendition of W.A. Mozart played on the electric guitar. Other songs, made famous in Hollywood movies, were covered, such as “Dueling Banjos” from the film Deliverance, and two by Henry Mancini- “Pink Panther,” and “The Third Man.” Still another difference from the typical solo guitar concert was the multimedia support on display behind the performer. Each song, while being played in ‘real time,’ was accompanied by video projections detailing pertinent information about the composition’s history. Interesting facts about the original composer, the song itself, and the historical period of each specific composition was shown to the audience while the live version was performed. In addition, during some of the compositions the audience was able to view brief video clips relating to the music. An example of this was the presentation of Hal’s masterpiece Brela, a composition developed using the tremolo technique for the classical guitar. This particular song has strong Mediterranean Sea/Dalmatian coastal influences and the video visually enhanced the relationship. In addition to Brela, Croatia’s national heritage was revealed in many other compositions.
After the critically-acclaimed Ocean release, Hal's third album, Infinity, followed. Infinity, as the title suggests, showcased the infinite potential of the classic guitar. Undoubtedly, the guitar has been one of the most preeminent instruments over the past 100 years, making its uncontested mark on the modern music scene, especially in the pop-music genre. When considering the extreme ranges of musical genres within Hal's compositional scope, Infinity was a definitive milestone in guitar style diversity; from classic finger-style compositions to smash pop-hits. The song Speak To Me, often heard on Croatian radio and on television programs, is a vivid example.
Infinity’s success played a significant role in getting Hal's music heard beyond Croatia’s borders. This, in turn, resulted in him playing countless concerts both within Croatia and abroad. It has also allowed him to share concert billings with such world famous acts as Tommy Emmanuel, Muriel Anderson, Peter Finger, Franco Morone, Woody Mann, ... are among the many other artists with whom Hal has performed.
Hal's All-Star Guitar Nights Festival has turned out to be an exceptional event. It has hosted such well-known musicians as Pierre Bensusan and Jacques Stotzem, whose performances awed both critics and audience alike. In addition to the All-Star Guitar Festival, Hal has organized other festivals as a professional concert agent in tandem with his partner company, Zeta d.o.o. Together, the team organized 36 concerts in 2004 alone, most of them were held in national theaters and famous music halls.
Hal's most recent project is developing in alliance with the new publishing company, Zeta Records. Zeta is a subsidiary of Hal's publisher, Dancing Bear Records. It should be stated that Dancing Beard Records holds Croatia’s Warner Music license and is one of the largest publishing companies in the country. Hal personally chose Croatia’s American-style country band Crooks & Straights to appear as Zeta Record’s first release. Crooks & Straights was the winner of Europe’s largest country music festival, Picnic Country – European Country Music Contest, which was held in Mragowo, Poland. They are truly one of the best country bands in Europe.
At the moment, Hal is putting the finishing touches his fourth album entitled, TRILOGY. The CD is supposed to be out by the end of July 2006. TRILOGY is one of the largest projects in Croatian discography this year. It includes guest appearances by several world-class musicians and was recorded in many musical hot-spots around the globe, such as Nashville, London, Rome, Kempten, and Zagreb.
TRILOGY is a triple CD. It offers three fully-loaded discs, each noted by a specific musical genre. The first disc is finger-style acoustic, an evolution of the Ocean release. The second, spawned from Gemini’s success, is pop/rock-oriented. The third is a fusion style CD.
DAMIR HALILIĆ HAL NASTUPA VEČERAS U HNK ZADAR02.12.2015
HAL PREDSTAVIO NOVI SINGL "BUDI LUDA"20.11.2015
NOVI ALBUM: DAMIR HALILIĆ HAL - "50"11.06.2015
NOVI SINGL DAMIRA HALILIĆA HALA "WARSZAWA"09.04.2015
HAL NOVIM SINGLOM "SAMO PJESMA OSTAJE" NAJAVLJUJE NOVI ALBUM22.10.2014
JUBILARNI DESETI HAL'S ALL STAR GUITAR FESTIVAL ODRŽAVA SE 24. I 25. LISTOPADA U RIJECI
DAMIR HALILIĆ HAL VEČERAS U GARAŽI27.09.2013
NOA I HAL: VEČERAS PREMIJERE NOVIH SPOTOVA19.06.2013
DAMIR HALILIĆ HAL NA TURNEJI PO HRVATSKOJ07.05.2013
POZIVAMO VAS NA PROMOCIJU NOVOG ALBUMA "MARE NOSTRUM" DAMIRA HALILIĆA HALA OVOG PETKA U OPATIJI05.03.2013
DAMIR HALILIĆ HAL PREMIJERNO VEČERAS NA CMC TELEVIZIJI I MUZIKA.HR PORTALU28.02.2013
HRVATSKI GITARISTIČKI VIRTUOZ DAMIR HALILIĆ HAL OBJAVIO NOVI ALBUM "MARE NOSTRUM"18.10.2012
HAL'S ALL STAR GUITAR FESTIVAL 2012 OVOG VIKENDA U RIJECI