Once again The Trakai Fanfare Week lived up to expectations. It is really the most beautiful location for a summer festival. It was the 7th successive year that Fanfare Week has taken place, and is the brainchild of local music teacher Arvydas Mišeikis. I first met Arvydas in 2002 when I was invited by him to visit Trakai during a brass festival I was involved with in Vilnius. Since that time, I have developed a lasting affinity with the town and all the musicians there.
This year there were nearly 90 musicians involved as well as some really outstanding teachers including Wim Van Hasselt (Trumpet), Tobias Scheissler (Trombone), Bo Håkanson (Percussion), and Luc Vertommen (conductor). I must say to watch the standard rise every year gives me great satisfaction, and some some of the Lithuanian brass players have now achieved a very high standard indeed. They are dedicated, focussed and have an insatiable desire to learn.
The course was from monday to the following sunday with a mixture of full rehearsals, group ensemble work, masterclasses, and concerts every day. With the final day's concert finishing at 10.30pm every night, it made for a tiring week, especially as the social acitivites ran well into the night/early morning !! The weather was kind and mostly nice and warm with lake swimming part of the daily routine. On the saturday afternoon we all went of a lake cruise in a big old Russian boat, with the teachers treating all the young students to a free trip.
Some of the photos from the week are really stunning. The memories for all those there will last even longer.
I had a busy week, playing two evening concerts, one with string quartet on the thursday evening, playing one of my American student's arrangement of the Five Tango Expressions by Astor Piazzolla. Matt Krening himself performed one of the movements in his Masters Performance recital at the RNCM in June and I played three of them, (Anxiety, Asleep, and Fear). It works so well with string quartet (the quartet parts are Piazzolla's original). To finish that concert I played a lovely arrangement of Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. It was a string quartet arrangement of the Hunsberger edition , first performed by Winton Marsalis. Bo Håkanson was the other soloist in this concert and was quite brilliant.
Meeting Wim and Tobias for the first time was also a treat, both incredible players and very fine teachers. The atmosphere amongst the students was wonderful.
The final concerts, the student solo concerts, the percussion concert and the final band concert (in which I played Luc Vertommen's arrangement of Carmen Fantasy) were very high quality.
If you are looking for a summer music course next year reserve the end of July/beginning of August week 2012.
It is a week you'll never forget. Here are a few photos. Follow this LINK
My next visit to Lithuania will be 9-14 November where I will be soloing and conducting the Trimitas Wind Orchestra in concerts in Vilnius and Kaunas.