The Brass Festival
Just south of the Croatian capital Zagreb is the city of Velika Gorica and for the last eight years Tom Spoljar has been the tireless and visionary music director of the VG Brass Festival. Spread over just five days.
The opening with Tempera displaying their virtuosity and musicianship
The Israeli ensemble Tempera opened the festival with a breathtaking display of virtuosity and musicianship. Well known to the trumpet world Yigal Meltzer, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra principal trumpet, together with saxophonist Gan Lev, percussionist Tomer Yariv and pianist Amit Dolberg have created a concert/show of the most entertaining fusion of high octane classical and jazz styles. As it is an unusual combination, there are many arrangements in the repertoire but they are so well written one could imagine that the new versions are at least equal to the originals. I enjoyed this group so much as did the ‘full house’ audience.
My works performed, including European premiere of horn sonata, ‘Still Road’
Meltzer is the most active of the international soloists in this festival and it was a delight for me that he, along with pianist Tamara Jurkic Sviben, played two of my small works for trumpet and piano, ‘Forgotten Clouds’ and ‘Ophelia Songs’. It was also my great pleasure to have the European premiere of my horn sonata, ‘Still Road’ on the same program. Hornist Hrvoje Pintaric with Jurvic Sviben were wonderful and sensitive performers of my music.
Spoljar has brought together many Croatian performers and ensembles and it was good to hear the brass sextet Ad Gloriam brass in recital and then to hear this group’s founder, trombonist Mario Sincek as soloist in ‘Deux Danses’ by Defaye.
The quintet, Busina Brass, performed my ‘Canzona for Ligeti’. I am so happy that, at Sydney Symphony assoc. principal trumpet trumpet Paul Goodchild’s suggestion, I wrote this piece as it is now my most performed chamber work. Busina Brass broke their program in half with the first section being early baroque and the second part being fine arrangements of jazz classics and spirituals. Wonderful playing!
Featured composer Vincent Jockin
The other featured composer in this festival is Vincent Jockin from France. His ‘Polegnala E Todora’ for full orchestra is an atmospheric composition based on a Bulgarian folk song. The music was used as the score for an 8 minute ballet and in a most appropriate way brought together young dancers from the local community as a prelude to the opening concert. His new Quintette Op27/2 was premiered by the Zagreb based Simply Brass on the final night. It is a French flavoured work that uses harmonies and colours inspired by the jazz of the 1950’s and motives that seem to come from the lighter music of French classical music of the 20’s and 30’s. It was well received and also well performed and deserves more performances.
The big finale with Les Trompettes de Lyon
The last group to perform in the festival was Les Trompettes de Lyon. I have been aware that Spoljar, Meltzer and Les Trompette were all in Sydney for the 2010 ITG conference and it made me feel as if the energy of that time continues on with all the contacts made there at that time. Indeed, it is the very reason I was at the festival. Les Trompettes delivered a show full of energy and humour. To say that the performance is like a mix of clowning and mime and visual jokes does not place enough emphasis on the the musical skill and happiness that the group gives to the audience.
The festival has been a great success and in the same way that happens in such events in Australia there was a strong camaraderie amongst the performers and for me it was lovely to see musicians from many different nations working together and supporting each other.
All the international performers were interested in the music scene in Australia and for that short time I felt connected to so many people.