Eleventh International Ionian Academy of the Melos Brass

From July 27-31, 2013 the Eleventh International Ionian Academy of the Melos Brass was held on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy.

Faculty and students there participated in performances, master classes, and daily yoga sessions. The daily comprehensive program was designed to improve technique, musical expression, ensemble playing, and performance preparation. Concurrent seminars in percussion, flute, and clarinet also occurred. Despite critical economic challenges in Greece, the event organizers were able to continue this artistic and educational resource for the region.

The Melos Brass is a professional ensemble made up of players from leading orchestras and music schools in Greece. Sokratis Anthis, trumpeter and organizer of the seminar, is one of Greece’s musical icons with experience as principal trumpet of the Greek National Opera, Athens State Orchestra, The Greek Radio and Television National Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of Colours. He also teaches at the Philippos Nakas Conservatory, the Athens Conservatory and has also taught at the Ionian University on his home island of Corfu. In 2003 he and the others members of the Melos Brass began the summer academy on his home island featuring guest trumpet teachers that have included Russian soloist Timofei Dokshizer, Chris Martin of the Chicago Symphony, Frits Damrow of the Concertgebow Orchestra, Hans Gansch of the Vienna Philharmonic, German soloist, Reinhold Friedrich, James Thompson and groups like the Mnozil Brass and Canadian Brass.

Most seminars took place in the Ionian University Department of Music, situated in the Stone Building of the Old Fortress, a historical landmark of the island. Many tourists stopped and listened to festival participants as they wandered through the large castle fortress. Additional rehearsals and classes were held at the newly renovated facilities of the Philharmonic Society “Mantzaros”, one of the prestigious wind bands on the island that continues a long tradition of teaching and performance of brass instruments. Evening concerts took place in the auditorium of the Ionian University overlooking a bay filled with yachts and azure waters. The trumpet portion of the seminar featured Dr. Gregory Jones, trumpet professor of Truman State University, and Panayotis Kessaris of the Melos Brass and Principal Trumpet of the Athens State Orchestra.

Each day featured group warm ups, sessions on practice and performance techniques, ensemble rehearsals, and individual lessons. Melos Brass members conducted similar sessions on horn, trombone and tuba. At the beginning of each day, Sophie Andree led participants in yoga and meditation. Even though the session was early, the large room was always filled to capacity. This focus on the mind and body focus helped participants holistically address the challenges of musical performance.

Nightly concerts included performances by faculty members and students offering a wide variety of music for participants and the general public. Trumpet faculty members Panayotis Kessaris and Dimtris Gkogkas, Principal Trumpet of the Greek National Opera, performed Donald Hunsberger’s Carmen Fantasy joined by pianist Dimitris Marinos of the Ionian Academy, percussion faculty member, Marios Mouzakitis with fellow percussionists Nikos Metallinos, Nikos Stogiannos, Dionysis Hitiris, and Katerina Koskina. Young brass students of the seminar were featured the second evening in a concert with fifteen players playing solos, all accompanied by Ellie Glarou from the Ionian University on the piano. Parents and participants filled the hall of the Mantzaros Philharmonic Society to enjoy these young participants play what was, in many cases, their first big solo outing.

Each instrumental studio participated on the third evening concert that started with a trumpet ensemble rehearsed and conducted by Gregory Jones. The group performed Gordon Jacob’s Canterbury Flourish, James Olcott’s arrangement of Shenandoah, an adaptation of the Mnozil Brass version of the classic Frank Sinatra My Way transcribed by Nickos Ninos, and Tuesday Night Quartet by David Greenberg. The concert continued with a horn choir conducted by Antonis Lagos, tuba choir with Sakis Mironis, trombone choir by Spiros Farougias along with flute, clarinet and percussion ensembles conducted by seminar faculty.

The final night offered a concert that began with a wind ensemble of 124 members of the seminar conducted by Gregory Jones in a performance of an arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon. A small brass chamber group made up of the members of the Melos Brass Quintet with a few additional players continued the concert with Gabrieli’s Canzon Pian’e Forte and Samuel Scheidt’s Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ conducted by trombonist and faculty member Spiros Farougias. Gregory Jones returned to the stage as a guest soloist to join the group in the brass transcription of Joseph Turrin arrangement of the Gershwin standard Someone to Watch Over Me. David Marlatt’s arrangement of the Overture to the Light Cavalry by Franz von Suppé and Scott Joplin’s Nonpareil, arranged by J.F. Talliard completed the first half of the program. The second half of the final concert featured the Ionian Brass Band conducted by event organizer Sokratis Anthis. The group with faculty and students from the seminar began with the Salzburg Suite: Four Movements in the Style of Mozart arranged by Denis Wright followed by Episodes for Brass by Ronald Hamner. The concert concluded with the Denis Wright arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Sources: Sokratis Anthis, Trumpet, Melos Brass, Corfu, Greece, and Dr. Gregory Jones, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri

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