15th Annual Concorso Internazionale “Citta di Porcia”
By John Stevens
A very important event for tubists took place in a lovely, northern Italian town this fall. The 15th annual Concorso Internazionale “Citta di Porcia” (City of Porcia International Competition) took place in December 2004 and, for the first time, the competition was for solo tuba. This has always been a competition for an individual solo brass instrument, but previously had featured only trumpet, horn or trombone. The director of the competition since its inception, Giampaolo Doro, indicated that he was extremely pleased with both the number and performance level of the competitors this year, giving us good reason to hope that tuba will enter the regular rotation for this annual competition in the future. Porcia is a small town about one hour north of Venice. It borders on the somewhat larger town of Pordenone, which is where the events of the competition actually took place, due to the availability of more suitable facilities. On the last weekend in November, 28 competitors (of the 32 originally registered) and a jury of seven convened to begin a week of performing and judging that resulted in three prize winners sharing a total purse of 13,500 Euros. This was truly an international competition, with the registered competitors representing 14 countries: Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United States.
The three finalists were:
First Prize: Andreas Hofmeir (Germany), 7,000 Euros
Andreas has performed regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic and Orchestra Academy of Munich Philharmonic and is currently the tubist in the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria.
Second Prize: Benjamin Pierce (United States), 4,000 Euros
Benjamin is on the faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Music. He has won numerous international solo competitions on both tuba and euphonium, most recently the Lieksa (Finland) Solo Euphonium Competition in 2004.
Third Prize: Jeremie Dufort (France), 2,500 Euros
Jeremie is the principal tubist of the Police Parisienne Orchestra. He was the first prize winner of the 2003 Philip Jones International Competition and the 2004 L’UFAM International Competition.
The prize winners and the artistic director (L-R): Andreas Hofmeir, Jeremie Dufort, Giampaolo Doro, and Benjamin Pierce.
The competition consisted of three rounds of music that was either unaccompanied or accompanied by piano, with the field of competitors narrowing to ten, five, and finally, three for the final round with orchestra. The repertoire was varied and demanding; the three finalists performed a total of eight works over the course of the week. The opening round featured the Penderecki Capriccio and the Chappot Concerto. In the second round, all competitors performed the Hindemith Sonate as well as one of the following three works: the Plog Three Miniatures, the Madsen Sonata, or the Broughton Sonata.
The third round was even more demanding. Each competitor performed the Bozza Concertino and two additional works from a pool of options. A Baroque work was selected from the Albinoni Concerto in D minor, the Handel Sonata in C Major (both of which were arranged by Walter Hilgers), or the Thomas Stevens Variations in Olden Style. A 20th century unaccompanied work was also required. Each performer played one of the following three works: The Gregson Alarum, Kraft Encounters II, or the John Stevens Salve Venere, Salve Marte. For the final round with orchestra, players were required to select from two pieces, but all three performers chose to play the Koetsier Concertino, Op. 77 for tuba and strings. Over 400 audience members filled the concert hall to hear three fine performances of this work. The final result of the competition was derived from a combination of the scores the three finalists received in the piano/unaccompanied round and the orchestra round. The jury was a distinguished group of performers and composers representing six countries.
The jury, winners, artistic director, and the secretary of the competition
The president of the jury was Sandro Gorli (Italy), a composer, conductor, and founder of the Divertimento Ensemble, and professor at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Jens Bjorn-Larsen (Denmark) is a distinguished tuba soloist, principal tubist of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, member of the Stockholm Chamber Brass, and on the faculty of the Danish Academy of Music, the Malmo Academy of Music, and the Hochschule for Music and Theater in Hanover, Germany. Gerard Buquet (France), tubist, composer, conductor, and advocate of contemporary music, was the tubist in Boulez’s Ensemble Intercontemporain for 25 years. He has taught at the Paris Conservatory and is currently on the faculties of the Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe (Germany) and the Cefedem de Dijon. Jean-Pierre Mathez (Switzerland), trumpeter and pedagogue, is well known to brass players all over the world as the publisher and managing editor of the Brass Bulletin for over 30 years. He is also the founding publisher of Editions BIM, one of the world’s premier publishers of brass music. Miguel Moreno (Spain) is a member of the low brass ensemble Sir Alligator Company and the tuba teacher at the Royal Academy of Music in Madrid, where he is also the principal conductor of the Symphonic Band. Tubist Pierre Pilloud (Switzerland) has been on the faculty of the Geneva Conservatory, director of the music school in Geneva, and has taught at the music school in Saluzzo. He has served as a juror at numerous international competitions. John Stevens (United States) is Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and Symphonia, and an internationally acclaimed composer and arranger for brass.
The first Porcia tuba competition was a week of great performances, making new friends, and seeing old ones, exchanging cultural and musical ideas and promoting our chosen instrument, all amid the ambience of beautiful scenery and wonderful Italian hospitality, food, and wine. It seemed to be a resounding success in every way. Congratulations are due to Professor Doro for his vision and the tireless energy that has made this competition a success for 15 years, as well as to his dedicated and highly competent staff. Congratulations are also due to all of the competitors, especially the three finalists, for a week of superb tuba playing and music making. This competition was a clear and strong indicator of how far we have advanced in terms of quality repertoire and the high performance level of today’s young tubists. Bravo!
For more information on the City of Porcia International Competition, please visit their website at www.musicaporcia.it.