‘The International Brass Week’s’ Creative Concerts

Santa Maria Novella

Florence’s International Brass Week offers a series of concerts – some free – in out-of-the-ordinary settings: afloat in the Arno River, in the basilica of Santa Maria Novella and, in tandem with the Opera di Firenze’s Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (MMF) orchestra, at the Pitti Palace courtyard.

Founded by Luca Benucci, principal French horn of the Maggio Musicale Orchestra, this year’s festival has invited some of today’s most brilliant stars of the brass world from Germany, the Netherlands, USA, Canada, Venezuela, Russia, Italy, Norway, Australia, Hungary, France and Great Britain.  Trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba students from more 45 countries will also participate in master classes, lectures and concerts.

The great artist Giotto is being celebrated this year on the 750th anniversary of his birth and in his honor some of the performances will be held in historical locations that have a specific connection with the artist whose revolutionary works led directly to the Renaissance.

The basilica of Santa Maria Novella, home to Giotto’s crucifix for over 700 years, will host the July 11 recital, at 9:15 pm with free admission.  Andrea Severi will accompany Brass Week soloists on the organo maggiore.  The following day, the courtyard of the Bargello museum, where Giotto portrayed Dante in the fresco depicting Paradise in the Chapel of the Podestà, will resound with the music of Marcello, Haydn, Handel and Mozart (July 12, 9 pm).

In the Ammanati courtyard of the Pitti Palace, the MMF continues its summer season with symphonic concerts and opera. Phillip von Steinaecker will conduct The Titans by Francesco Traversi, a symphonic fantasy for brass ensemble and orchestra on July 13 (9:15 pm). The evening finishes with the popular New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak, fruit of his studies of ethnic American music.

The Arno and the Ponte Vecchio will serve as the venue for a free spectacular event, the world premiere on July 15 of Water Music, a work written by Enjott Schneider. Starting at 7:30 pm, from roads along the river and on the bridge the public can hear 12 soloists on the boats of the renaioli (the traditional sand diggers) accompanied by two large brass ensembles made up of 90 players on the shore. Dale Clevenger, former principal French horn of the Chicago Symphony and Roger Bobo, formerly of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and tuba legend, will be leading the groups on the Lungarno Torrigiani. From the Ponte Vecchio the voice of the soprano Eve Lind will join the music, meant to convey the message of Giotto’s artistic essence.

The final concert will be held on July 16 with the World Brass Big Band – all of the students and soloists of the festival – playing popular jazz and pop hits in the Pitti Palace courtyard (9:15 pm).  (anne lokken)