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Houlding and Varley inspire in Jena

Wednesday 15 September, 2021

Brass solo stars Chris Houlding and Helen Varley have inspired musicians in Germany during a busy week of in-person music making.

The summer camp, which took place recently in Jena, Thuringia, was set up as an alternative to the International Summer Brass Band Camp that was cancelled due to the pandemic. Participants from all over Germany learned from the international guest lecturers, Chris and Helen, who praised the organisation and the incredible rehearsal atmosphere.

Chris reflected: “If I want to sum up my time at Summer Camp 21 in a nutshell, I have to say that it was a unique experience. For six days I experienced an incredible commitment from all participants - with an unbelievable amount of dedication, zeal and passion. I am proud to have been a part of this workshop.”

The course was organised by the brass music association Blasmusikverein Carl Zeiss Jena e.V., which as a non-profit organisation is home to four brass bands (the Brass Bands BlechKLANG and VielKLANG as well as the Jugend Brass Band BlechKLANG and the Junior Brass Band KLANGwelt), the association’s own orchestra school KLANGwelt and the competence centre for brass bands.

The main responsibility lay with Alexander Richter, the creative director of the entire structure. Together with the director of the orchestra school Katrin Weber and an international team of lecturers and supervisors, he developed the concept, which seamlessly followed on from the successful Summer Brass Band Camp from last year.

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More than 70 participants of the camp experienced six days with tutti, sectional, ensemble and individual rehearsals as well as various leisure activities. Musicians from the Jugend Brass Band, VielKLANG and BlechKLANG played together every evening as the Summer Camp Brass Band, each time working on different, unfamiliar repertoire including classical Salvation Army pieces, popular entertainment works, typical championship literature, film scores and also classical transcriptions. 

Helen Varley said: “The enthusiasm of all participants was really overwhelming. Young and old alike have shown over the six days how much can be achieved with hard work, great concentration and a willingness to perform. It was a great pleasure to feel this energy, to observe the great progress in a very short time and to experience the fun of music.”

Creative director Alexander Richter concluded by adding: “I am very happy that we managed to realise the summer camp again in this difficult year. The atmosphere throughout the course was incredibly positive. The sense of community and togetherness across all age groups and the will for permanent development make our structure very special.”