The biggest trumpet and brass band festival in the world starts tomorrow and will last until August 11th.
The Guča trumpet festival, also known as the Dragačevo Assembly is an annual brass band festival held in the town of Guča, near the city of Čačak 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.”
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.