Fanfara (Great Britain)





The line up of the full band is:

Polina Skovoroda (vocalist)
Merlin Shepherd (clarinet and saxophone)
Tom Livingstone (trumpet)
John Atwood (trumpet)
Jackie Grant (saxophone)
Ann Springfield (bariton)
Mark Hindmarsh (bariton)
Will Rumfitt (baritone and helicon)
Bruce Stevens (helicon)
Sean C Davis (helicon)
Pat Power (percussion)
Sam Eden-Green (percussion)

With trumpets, clarinet, saxophones, baritones, helicons and percussion, the band are regularly led by Merlin Shepherd, one of the world’s leading clarinettists specialising in eastern European instrumental folk music.

As the only UK group playing the music of east European brass bands, they have studied with members of Fanfara Ciocarlia, Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar and King Naat Veliov and the Original Kocani Orchestar.

Formed in Brighton in 2003, Fanfara has roots as far afield as Russia, South African, Jamaica, Sweden and Wales.

In 2010, invited by the British Council in Serbia, the band performed to much critical acclaim at the 50th International Trumpet festival in Guca.

The brass band music of eastern Europe is for celebrating and dancing, whether at a wedding, in the street or at a festival.

In Serbia the recognition of this brass band culture has a high public profile and since 1960 the town of Guca has held the now famous International Trumpet festival where each year over 500,000 visitors descend on a town of 2,000 inhabitants to party to hundreds of brass bands playing and competing for the award of Golden Trumpet.

Fanfara first played for Same Sky’s Brighton Festival Children’s Parade in 2003. This performance was as a result of visiting Zece Prajini, Romania, to study with teacher and composer Constantin ‘Sulo’ Calin, baritone player for Fanfare Ciocarlia.

They have since played at hundreds of weddings and festivals including Glastonbury, Dublin International Festival and Guca and have performed on BBC Radio 4 and Serbian national television station: B92.

In 2004 the band was delighted when renowned clarinettist Merlin Shepherd started to perform regularly with the band. Specialising in eastern European and Jewish Instrumental Folk Music, Merlin has performed live and on CDs with Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, Fanfara Vagabontu, Fanfara Savale, Frank London Brass Klezmer All Stars and has visited Iasi, Romania to study the lost tunes of Jewish and Romani communities.

The group have supported Fanfara Ciocarlia at the Brighton Festival and arranged workshops in Brighton with Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, members of Fanfara Ciocarlia and King Naat Veliov and the Original Kocani Orkestar. Several members have visited and studied in Zece Prajini, Romania as well as at the Amala School for Romani Culture in Valjevo and have visited Surduliza and Vladicin Han in Serbia to study with Roma musicians.

In 2010 we were invited by the British Council and the British Embassy in Serbia to learn more about the culture of brass bands and to perform at the 50th International Trumpet festival at Guca.

The group are able to provide brass sections for almost all situations from composing, recording, session work, tours and community projects.

An impressionist journey across the Steppes, the project  is an excursion into wonders, joy, beauty and sensitivity but also fierce dance rhythms and driving, pulsing, passionate beats of Eastern Europe.

Not to be missed!


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