Music

Okarina Festival Bled

27. 07. - 8. 08. 2021

Bled

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Okarina festival Bled

Riklijeva cesta 9 SI-4260, Bled

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The Okarina Festival is a world music festival, held in the alpine town of Bled since 1991. Presenting a very wide range of musicians, its focus spans from the many traditional folk genres to the more contemporary, hybridised idioms. The festival’s creed is in part summed up by its name, which alludes to a very ancient wind musical instrument called the ocarina that can be found all over the world.

The festival is currently held at two venues – the Bled Castle and the so-called Bled Promenade, a grassy beach beside the lake. There, one can listen to those concerts that are free of charge. Additionally, the Bled Festival Hall is usually meant as a backup in case of rain.

Background

The founder of the festival is Leo Ličof, who even after half a century still acts as the main organiser and the artistic director of the festival. He set up its first few editions at the grounds of the restaurant he then ran on the shore of Lake Bled, but the following editions brought different venues.

While there were only a few bands on the bill at the start, the festival progressively grew and so did the names hosted. Some of the artists hosted during the early years of the festival were the legendary UK folk bands Fairport Convention and Pentangle and the singer Marta Sebastian (HU).

Programme

The festival invites all sorts of musicians, from flamenco bands, qawwali artists and Irish folk singers to US blues guitarists and jazz-influenced Moroccan gnawa musicians. The festival line-up has in recent years featured Aziz Sahmaoui (MA), Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita (SN, UK), Ester Rada (IL), Orquesta Revé (CU), Osibisa (UK), Tenores di Bitti (IT), Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra (ES), Taksim Trio (TR), Earl King Boogie Band (UK), Frankie Lane (IE), Big Daddy Wilson (UK) and Esme Redžepova (MK).

Of the local artists performing here, one can name Brina, Neca Falk, Kontrabant and – numerous times – Vlado Kreslin.

Bled Festival

1. 07. - 18. 07. 2021

Lesce

CONTACTS

Festival Bled

Alpska 74 SI-4248 , Lesce

Visit website

Held each summer in a picturesque Alpine town, the Bled Festival first took of in 1996. It is a classical music festival of a broad horizon, regularly also inviting jazz, chanson or folk artists. Furthermore, concerts are but a part of its programme that also puts a very strong focus on young musicians. Not only does an international cast of mentors work with them via workshops and masterclasses, young and upcoming players also make up a sizeable part of the line-up.

The festival is managed by Bled Culture Institute and is led by its founder and artistic director, the acclaimed violinist Jernej Brence.

Venues

Concerts take place at various venues in town of Bled, including the Bled Festival Hall, the Bled Castle, the church on Bled Island, Vila Bled and the Cafe Belvedere. Some places in outlying towns are sometimes also featured, like the magnificent baroque-styled hall of Radovljica Manor House.

Music Programme

There are a few (somewhat intertwined) festival sections, first among them the classical music concerts that show a certain affinity towards chamber music and string ensembles. However, the festival does tend to combine standard classical music repertoire with the more contemporary, 20th and 21st century composing streams. Some of the recent guests from abroad include the Chicago Master Singers (US), the Melbourne String Ensemble (AU), the Russian choir of the Voronezh State Philharmonic (RU) and numerous renowned individual musicians who usually also partake in the festival as mentors.

The festival has produced over a hundred premiere performances of works by Slovene composers. For many years a special concert was organised by the Society of Slovene Composers. Featuring new music by contemporary Slovene composers, it was titled titled as The Night of Slovene Composers.

As for the representatives of other genres one may well mention Amedeo Tommasi (IT), Karen Asatrian & Armenian Spirit (AM), Marko Hatlak Band, Vesna Zornik’s Tango Apasionada, and Big Band KK.

Education

Concerts are accompanied by masterclasses and outreach workshops where master musicians share their knowledge. During the last two decades the masterclasses of Festival Bled have been attended by over 2,000 aspiring musicians, many of whom have by now gained international renown.

Some of the musicians leading the masterclasses (traditionally focusing on violin, viola, cello, chamber music, and singing) are Saewon Suh, Marianne Piketty, Robert Szreder, Piotr Jasiurkowski, Michael Frischenschlager and Karmen Pečar. All of them are or have been a part of the festival for several years, with such long-term relations an important feature of this festival. Some mentors are also invited to set up ensembles of young musicians upfront, giving them an evening concert slot of their own.

The jazz workshops mentors have been, among others, Jadranka Juras, Igor Matkovič, Jani Moder and Robert Jukič, all of them highly renowned Slovene musicians.

Additional programme

Each recent year the festival is accompanied by visual arts and photography exhibitions, set up at the Bled Festival Hall. Some of the selected painters in recent years are Rok Zelenko, Vinko Bogataj, Melita Vovk and Ejti Štih. In 2016 the Arts Society from Bled’s twin town Velden am Wörthersee, Austria, presented a collection of paintings and installations by its members.

The festival also sets up various performances by dance groups, cabaret and stand-up shows, theatre productions and so on. A festival staple is also a violin-maker workshop, led by Edgar E. Russ from Cremona.

Up until 2013 a strong component of the festival was a programme of international viola, violin and chamber music competitions, a feature that may yet return to the festival.

Awards

The Bled Festival, along with its artistic director Jernej Brence, was awarded with several Slovene and international awards: the Medal of Honor of the town of Bled, The Lord Yehudi Menuhin Award, the Society of Slovene Composers Award, The Fellowship of Fritz Kreisler of Vienna Award and The Betetto Muniment.