Alan Holley composer in residence at Podium Festival, Croatia
In the utterly picturesque coastal town of Fazana and the island of Brijuni in the northern part of Croatia the 2016 Podium Festival presented world class chamber musicians from six countries. This is a reasonably new festival on the European circuit and is characterised by its dynamic performers, directors and choice of innovative repertoire.
Originated in Norway in 2010 the Podium Festival concept has subsequently spread to Germany, Austria, Iceland, Spain and then in 2015 to Croatia.
My new horn trio, ‘This time of light‘ was wonderfully premiered in the first concert by Hrvoje Pintaric (horn), Artiom Shiskov (violin) and pianist Tamara Jurkic Sviben. From 2012, my ‘estuaries of time‘ received its European premiere by violinist Ziga Faganel, cellist Alja Mandic and Tamara (piano). This was a most intense and atmospheric performance. These two works are part of a body of my work where the music takes its time to unfold and all the musicians were instantly aware of my intentions.
An earlier work, Hammerings III (2001) for solo soprano saxophone was stunningly performed by the festival artistic director, Petra Horvat. Her virtuosity brought to life the music and took it from just being a dazzling display to the point where she led the audience on a journey of her own making. The large audience was most aware of her achievement. I can only hope it becomes part of her solo repertoire.
Other performances of note included Shiskov’s technically perfect and musically beautiful playing of the Bach Chaconne, BWV1004. He also led the excellent string quartet in Resphigi’s ‘Il Tramonto‘ where mezzo-soprano Sofija Cingula gave a superb performance.
Dazzling and sensitive playing made violist Aleksandar Jakopanec the lynchpin in many performances in this festival. Other performers who deserve special mention were violinist Vlatka Peljhan, Kristina Winiarski, cello and pianist Matija Potisk, all excellent chamber music performers. Schubert’s C major Quintet D.956 and the Arensky Piano No. 1 received performances of such high quality and interpretation it was hard to believe that the performers had only come together only for the festival.
The final performance on the last night was by the LadieSaxophone Quartet. What an awesome group! Skill to burn from every member and the reception was fittingly rapturous.
I was invited to be the composer in residence at this festival by two of Zagreb’s leading performers, Hrvoje Pintaric and Tamara Jurkic Sviben. It was an honour and a most rewarding cultural exchange and one I hope can continue between Australia and this festival. If you are in Europe in the last week of July check out this exciting and energetic Podium Festival.
Featured image above is LadieSaxophone Quartet