The most famous Folk Festival in Serbia
“I didn’t know you could play trumpet that way”
Miles Davis, a Guca Festival visitor.
The village of Guča (pronounced Gucha) in the Dragačevo district is a peaceful, scenic and colorful part of western Serbia. It has gained world fame owing to its Assembly of Trumpet Players, the largest trumpet and brass band event on the planet.
The love of the people of Dragacevo for music, especially for the trumpet, began in the rule of Prince Miloš Obrenović who ordered the formation of the first military band in 1831. From then until now the trumpet has reigned here uninterrupted while woodwind instruments, in keeping with the customs, warm the soul of its population.
The sound of the trumpet traditionally accompanies every major event in Serbia’s rural and small-town life: births, baptisms, weddings, Slava (family patron saint day), farewell parties for those joining military service, state and church festivals, harvesting, reaping, and also departing this world. Appropriate music is played on these occasions, thus preserving the spirit of the existing tradition.
The music is very diverse: from indigenous melodies via the kolo (a fast-rhythm chain dance), marches and characteristic southern Serbia čoček (pron. chochek) dances, all the way to tunes that have emerged more recently, always taking care to honour the traditional harmony.
This music has won over the hearts of not only the local population, but has also warmed the hearts of outsiders and foreigners. In the several days of the Gucha festival, hardly anyone can resist giving themselves to the adrenalin-rushing rhythms and melodies that simply force one to jump to ones feet and dance.”
The traditional Dragačevo trumpet – its cult kept alive for nearly two centuries regardless of political and social considerations – has with time become world-renowned.
It is largely owing to the trumpet that the name of Serbia has resounded worldwide, on all the continents.
Some orchestras, when they appear on stage for official competition, wear the national dress and authentic indigenous dances with other folk inspired elements and musical accompaniment, have become an integral part of the national gathering.
The virtuoso musicians are for the most part fully self-taught and lend an air of authenticity unmatched by academic musicians. They play by ear and quite spontaneously, relying on their imagination and musical memory.
They play from their heart and soul, and their music reaches out to listeners precisely for these qualities.
The Gucha Assembly of Trumpet Players continues to grow year after year: today, this musical feast of recognizable national skills is more popular, more diverse and bigger than ever before.
. The first Dragačevo Assembly of Trumpet Players was held on October 16, 1961 in the yard of the Church of Sts. Michael and Gabriel in Guča (pronounced Gucha). Initially, it was a very modest Assembly – almost subversive for the prevailing political circumstances of the time. However, the Assembly gradually grew and expanded its magical influence.
Over the past thirty or so years it has become a key folk symbol and is no longer held solely for the trumpet players.
It grew into an Assembly of toastmasters and painters, attracting diversity in local and regional arts and crafts and including competitions in non-musical spheres.
The song “Sa Ovčara I Kablara” marks the beginning of the festival each year. Some church music festivals notwithstanding, the Assembly of Trumpet Players is the best known event of this kind, extending uninterruptedly for 55 years and attracting guests and musicians alike from every continent.
Trumpet players and folk song and dance groups from around the world deem it a great honour to be invited to the Assembly, and the number of visitors increases with each coming year. The record was set in 2010, when Gucha hosted in excess of 700.000 visitors over 10 days of festivities.
With considerable experience in organizing Assemblies, today the traditionally hospitable Gucha has earned its place on the map of world music festivals, inviting high interest from ethno music lovers, and deservedly so. As an internationally recognized trumpet capital, and a singular corner of positive energy, a place with accumulated joy, gaiety and spontaneity, coupled with the piercing yet gentle sound of the trumpet, Gucha is a place of catharsis of the heart and soul while the festival lasts. All this is more than enough to attract visitors to Gucha each Mexico , Spain , Greece , Denmark , China and many other close or distant countries. The names of Boban Markovic, Milan Mladenovic, Ekrem Sajdic, Elvis Ajdinovic, Fejat and Zoran Sejdic have carried the glory of the Serbian trumpet across the world.
Welcome to Gucha!