Nothing compliments the quality of the Youngmasters Festival and the International Summer School of Young Musicians like their longevity. This August, these manifestations have made Samobor an oasis of music and knowledge for the eleventh year in a row. The festival’s cultural, entertaining and educational contents are distinguished by their scope and diversity, and their crown is the festive Youngmasters Gala concert. The gala concert is performed by prominent Croatian and foreign musicians, including Youngmasters lecturers and the most gifted participants. The high artistic level and enchanting spaces of Samobor often attract music lovers and prominent Croatian media to this exceptional event.
This year’s Youngmasters Gala concert was held on August 27 in the church of St. Leonard, a baroque pearl located near Samobor. Relatively unknown, but historically and artistically invaluable, the church inventory created a becoming ambient for a very special musical experience. The murmur of the audience before the concert went silent immediately when the sound of the organ filled the church. The organ of the church of St. Leonard are one of the oldest in Croatia. Željka Spinčić Bunčić played Leonard Leo’s Toccata VI. After the impressive opening, we listened to a flute quintet. Our flutists, participants of Marko Zupan’s master class, performed Boismortier’s Concerto in La minore, op. 15. The program continued with the performance of one of Croatia’s best young musicians. Marimbist Filip Merčep performed a very attractive Verano porteño by Astor Piazzola. The concert went on with a couple of great performances from the Youngmasters lecturers. Mihael Paar gave a performance of Kovács’ interesting Hommage á J.S. Bach for clarinet solo, and the Zagreb guitar duo, consisting of Morana Pešutić and Tomislav Vasilj, played Espagne by Ida Presti. Ida Presti is a legendary guitarist and composer who is known to people of Samobor because of the guitar competition in Samobor which is named after her. After the guitars, we listened to another performance on the precious organ. Željka Spinčić Bunčić was joined by soprano Josipa Gvozdanić in this piece. They performed an aria by J. S. Bach. It was followed by a selection from 44 duets for two violins by Béla Bartók, arranged for flute and alto saxophone. It was performed by excellent musicians and Youngmasters lecturers: Marko Zupan and Lovro Merčep. The concert ended with Festival Chamber Orchestra’s premiere. Youngmasters has always paid special attention to group music, and this year, wishing to give participants the opportunity to participate in a larger ensemble at a high playing level, it founded a string chamber orchestra for whose members got selected in the evaluation process. During the week of intensive rehearsals, the young musicians prepared as many as four pieces for the Youngmasters Gala concert under the artistic guidance of Marco Graziani. In the first piece, they accompanied the soprano Gaja Napast, who sang Vedrai Carino’s aria from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. Another number from Mozart’s opera succeeded – the Canzonetta sul’aria duet from the opera Figaro. Gaja Napast and Josipa Gvozdanić performed it with great musicality and stage presence. With Mozart’s Divertimento, we heard the Festival Orchestra in an independent act, after which they accompanied the guitarist Kacper Dworniczak, an award-winning competitor from the Ida Presti competition, in the performance of the first movement of Sergio Assad’s Concerto Fantasie. The audience rewarded the performances of the Festival Orchestra with thunderous applause. Among the young orchestra players, there were those for whom this was their first opportunity to participate in the performance of opera and concert numbers. Despite this, the orchestra did not lag behind the high level of the other performers, all of whom were experienced professionals.
The enthusiasm and effort put into the preparation of the Youngmasters Gala concert was rewarded with the great success of the event. The vision and efforts of the organizers brought to life to another show of top musical art. This year’s edition was made special by the choice of location and the premiere performance of the Festival Chamber Orchestra, whose enviable achievement made both the young musicians and the organizers very proud. The quality was noticed by the Croatian National Televison’s programme, which included a feature about the concert in its program on August 28. Here is the impression that the visit to the Gala concert and the conversation with the lecturers and participants left on the editor:
“After a week of intensive rehearsals, these young musicians are even more convinced that music is their professional path, and the Gala concert is the pinnacle of a valuable experience, because they know that for the audience it is an invaluable musical event that many are already looking forward to for the next year .”