Guča Trumpet Festival

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Guča trumpet festival
Gucastatue.JPG
The Guča trumpeter statue
Location(s) Guča, Serbia
Years active 1961–present
Website GucaSabor.com

The Guča trumpet festival, also known as the Dragačevo Assembly (Serbian: Драгачевски сабор or Dragačevski sabor, pronounced [draɡǎːtʃeʋskiː sǎːbor]), is an annual brass band festival held in the town of Guča, near the city of Čačak,[1] in the Dragačevo region of western Serbia. Guča is a three-hour bus journey from Belgrade.

600,000 visitors make their way to the town of 2,000 people every year, both from Serbia and abroad. Elimination heats earlier in the year mean only a few dozen bands get to compete. Guča's official festival is split into three parts. Friday's opening concert, Saturday night celebrations and Sunday's competition. Friday's concerts are held at the entrance to the official Guča Festival building. This event features previous winners, each band getting to play three tunes while folk dancers, all kitted out in bright knitting patterns, dance kolos and oros in front of a hyped-up audience.

An English party site, ThisIsTheLife.com, has named Guča the best festival in the world.

Forget Glastonbury, Reading, Burning Man and Coachella: the wildest music festival on earth is a cacophonic and crazy brass band festival that takes place every summer in the tiny Serbian town of Guča in the western region of Dragačevo.

Said Miles Davis,[2] a Guča Festival visitor:

I didn't know you could play trumpet that way

In 2010 the organizers issued an official call to the presidents of Russia and U.S., Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to attend the 50th anniversary event.

History[edit]

Scene from Boban Marković concert in 2008

The village of Guča has gained world fame owing to its Assembly of Trumpet Players, the largest trumpet event on the planet. The love of the people of Dragačevo for music, especially for the trumpet, began in the rule of Prince Miloš Obrenović, who ordered the formation of the first military band in 1831. From then until now the trumpet has reigned here uninterrupted while woodwind instruments, in keeping with the customs, warm the soul of its population.

The sound of the trumpet traditionally accompanies every major event in Serbia's rural and small-town life: births, baptisms, weddings, Slavas {family patron saint day}, farewell parties for those joining military service, state and church festivals, harvesting, reaping, and also departing this world. Appropriate music is played on these occasions, thus preserving the spirit of the existing tradition. The music is very diverse: from indigenous melodies, via kolo {a fast-rhythm chain dance}, marches and characteristic southern Serbia čoček dances, all the way to tunes that have emerged more recently, but always taking care to honor old harmonies. This music has won over the hearts of not only the local population, but has also warmed the hearts of outsiders and foreigners. In the several days of the Guča festival, hardly anyone can resist giving themselves to the adrenalin-rushing rhythms and melodies that simply force one to jump to ones feet and dance.[3]

The traditional Dragačevo trumpet - its cult kept alive for nearly two centuries regardless of political and social considerations - has with time become world-renowned. It is owing to the trumpet that the name of Serbia has resounded worldwide, in all the continents. Some orchestras, when they appear on stage, whether for official competition national dress, the authentic and indigenous dances and other folk-inspired elements, coupled with music, have become an integral part of national gathering. The virtuoso music performers, the trumpet players to the paradox and make the story more authentic - are for the most part fully self-taught. They play by ear and quite spontaneously, relying on their musical memory; they play from the heart and soul, and their music reaches out to listeners precisely for this quality. The Guča Assembly of Trumpet Players continues to grow year after year: today, this musical feast of recognizable national skills is more popular, more diverse and bigger than ever before.

The first Dragačevo Assembly of Trumpet Players was held on October 16, 1961 in the yard of the Church of Sts. Michael and Gabriel in Guča. Initially, it was a very modest Assembly - almost subversive for the prevailing political circumstances of that time. However, the Assembly gradually grew and expanded its, one might say, magical influence, and over the past ten or so years has become the folk remained its key symbol and raison d'etre, it is no longer held solely for the trumpet players. It grew into an Assembly of toastmasters, painters, song "Sa Ovčara i Kablara", marks the beginning of the festival each year. Some church music festivals notwithstanding, the Assembly of Trumpet Players is the best known event of this kind extending uninterruptedly for 43 years and attracting guests and musicians alike from every continent. Trumpet players and folk song and dance groups from around the world deem it a great honor to be invited to the Assembly, and the number of visitors increases with each coming year.

With considerable experience in organizing Assemblies, today the traditionally hospitable Guča has earned its place on the map of world music festivals, inviting high interest from ethno music lovers, and deservedly so. As an internationally recognized trumpet capital, and a singular corner of positive energy, a place with accumulated joy, gaiety and spontaneity, coupled with the piercing yet gentle sound of the trumpet, Guča is a place of catharsis of the heart and soul while the festival lasts. All this is more than enough to attract visitors to Guča from Mexico, Spain, Greece, Denmark, China and other countries. The names of Boban Marković, Ekrem Sajdić, Elvis Ajdinović, Fejat and Zoran Sejdić have carried the glory of the Serbian trumpet across the world.[4]

Recent festivals[edit]

The Guča trumpet parade
  • 2001 - 2001 was the first time ever that a musician, Boban Marković, got the highest mark from every jury member. Since then, Boban decided not to compete any more. Instead he performs three or four songs as a special guest at each festival thereafter. Attending the competition this year, among other dignitaries, were Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia (from the line of Black George, to whose uprising the music can be traced), and Zoran Đinđić, the prime minister.[5]
  • 2002 - Attendance record was set in 2002, when Guča hosted in excess of 300,000 visitors.
  • 2005 - A documentary about the festival was filmed at the 2005 event. In a visit to festival came Kiera Chaplin granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin.
  • 2006 - In 2006 every 6th visitor came from abroad, mostly from Slovenia, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, but also from New Zealand and Australia.[citation needed] The majority of the 1500 participants of the 46th festival were Romani from around the region. Serbian brewery MB, the main sponsor of the 2006 festival, reported beer sales of 4,000 hectoliters, or more than 700,000 British pints. The event has also become lucrative for various travel agencies throughout Europe.[6] While visiting the festival, Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica stated:
Guča represents in a best way what Serbia is today, what does its openness, belief in oneself, hospitality, party and music. [The] trumpet festival is a confirmation on our courage and joy both in good and bad times. It represents people's return to the roots, joy and meaning of life. It speaks about who we are, what we are, our urges. We express our joy and sadness with [the] trumpet, we are born with sounds of [the] trumpet, and also buried with sounds of [the] trumpet. Guča is [a] Serbian brand, it's a value that can represent Serbia in the world. Those that can’t understand and love Guča, can’t understand Serbia. If we are going to go in [the] EU without our melodies and colours, then we wouldn’t know who we are.
  • 2007 - On 10 August Goran Bregović who popularised the Serbian trumpet sound and Balkan ethno music internationally, performed at Guča.

Notable participants[edit]

The Guča trumpeter statue

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°46′35″N 20°13′55″E / 43.77639°N 20.23194°E / 43.77639; 20.23194