Mediterranean attractions – How a brass band is essential in attracting students to Antibes – 4barsrest


The Antibes Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art has a new, state-of-the-art concert hall, but it’s a marching band that’s touted as a top attraction for students.

The Conservatory building was a great success

If a UK conservatory were lucky enough to have a new, state-of-the-art building, what would be the likelihood that its first major event would take place around a marching band?

This is exactly what happened with Brass Band Mediterranée. Now in his twenty-first year of residency at the Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art in Antibes, they were at the center of his recent national tuba and euphonium competition.

Major event

This is the first major event of the new building – and a remarkable message of musical intention proclaimed as such by the mayor of Antibes who sees the group as a priority attraction of excellence in a conservatory that has seen the town hall invest 18 million euros in its construction.


Municipal investment amounts to more than 18 million euros

Box in a box

Based on the architectural concept of a ‘box in a box’, acoustic qualities and world-class soundproofing are at the heart of the design.

It includes a beautifully designed 300-seat concert hall, as well as 31 teaching rooms, each with an acoustic and humidity control system suited to the instrument being taught. There are also two “cathedral studios” which extend over two floors.

It includes a beautifully designed 300-seat concert hall, as well as 31 teaching rooms, each with an acoustic and humidity control system suited to the instrument being taught. There are also two “cathedral studios” which extend over two floors.

The oak and ash wood concert hall has a stage which can be moved forward as needed so that the hall is suitable for a single soloist as well as an orchestra or group, while the acoustics the interior certainly matches the exterior views – floor to ceiling windows giving a 180 degree Panorama from the Alps in the north to the sea in the south.

Fifty-one staff members cover the teaching of 23 instruments, with 1,225 students from primary to undergraduate level.


The 300-seat concert hall offers wonderful acoustics

Distinguished panel

The competition was organized by Medhi Virorello, the famous Conservatory tuba teacher and conductor of his Junior Brass Band. He is also a founding member of the Brass Band Mediterranée.

Medhi had assembled a distinguished jury under the chairmanship of Gérard Hostein, the founder of the Brass Band Mediterranée, who has just retired as co-director after having successfully completed the new construction project.

Medhi had assembled a distinguished jury under the chairmanship of Gérard Hostein, the founder of the Brass Band Mediterranée, who has just retired as co-director after having successfully completed the new construction project.

He is joined by Micael Cortone d’Amore, tuba teacher at the Strasbourg Conservatory and tuba soloist at the Philharmonie de Strasbourg; Bastien Baumet, euphonium teacher at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Lyon and known to the public for brass bands such as the solo euphonium of the Paris Brass Band; Guillaume Dionnet, solo tuba of the Orchester National de Lyon and Professor at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Lyon, and Vianney Desplantes, independent euphonium soloist from Paris.

More than 60 participants

With an age range of six to twenty years, more than 60 entrants have come from municipal and regional conservatories in the south of France – including Marseille, Aix and Avignon, as well as Lyon, Strasbourg and Paris. They were also joined by a student from the Liceu Conservatory in Barcelona and one from Rome.


Gerard Horstein founder of the Brass Band Méditerranée

Impressive standard

Grouped into preparatory, intermediate and advanced sections, the participants went through two preliminary stages before reaching the final. The level of the “6 and over” age group in the preparatory section was particularly impressive, as was their obvious pleasure in playing.

The closing gala concert proved to be as much a test for the Brass Band Mediterranée and its conductor Olivier Mauny as a crash course in the art of accompanying.

Finalists

The advanced section finals formed the first part of the concert, with the two tuba finalists joining the group for the Martin Ellerby concert. “Concerto for tuba”, and the three finalists of the euphonium performing the work of Philip Sparke ‘Pantomime’.

The group dominated and ended the second half with music by Paul Lovat-Cooper and Philip Harper, but again played an accompanying role.


Laureates: Fiorello Arcangelo, Amélie Rotl and Jo Chen

Special guests

Special guest Florian Wielgosik, solo tuba of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, performed the Gregson ‘Concerto’, Guillaume Dionnet delivered a virtuoso “Romanian dance” arranged by Ionel Dumitru, and Bastien Baumet gave the first performance of the fanfare version of ‘Dragonfly’, written for him by Thierry Deleruyelle.

For the group, working with seven soloists in one concert resulted in a crash course in the art of accompaniment, but in the end, the results saw Jo Chen Wen and Fiorello Arcangelo split the tuba prize.

Jo Chen Wen is originally from Taiwan and studies at the Conservatoire de Lyon, while Fiorello Arcangelo is a member of the Italian Army Band

For the group, working with seven soloists in one concert resulted in a crash course in the art of accompaniment, but in the end, the results saw Jo Chen Wen and Fiorello Arcangelo split the tuba prize.

Emile Berret, a student at the Conservatoire de Lyon, won the euphonium mention and Marek Brun, 13, won first prize in the ‘Section Moyen’. Marek studies at the Conservatory of Marseille.


Olivier Mauny, Roy Terry and Medhi Viorello

Falling for something

The jury also awarded several “Coup de cœur” prizes to candidates who, in addition to showing potential, demonstrated a certain flair and an ability to seduce an audience. In the advanced section, this prize was awarded to Amélie Ratl, 19, student at the CNR in Paris and member of the Brass Band Aeolus.

The competition was particularly important for the President of the Jury Gérard Hostein, given his key role both in the construction process and in the founding of the Brass Band Mediterranée.

The competition was particularly important for the President of the Jury Gérard Hostein, given his key role both in the construction process and in the founding of the Brass Band Mediterranée.

The warm applause which followed the thanks of the director of the Conservatory Noel Bianchini testifies to the affection in which he is carried by the staff, the pupils and the parents.

The director also praised the work of Medhi Virorello and Olivier Mauny as he concluded his speech with a seal of approval for holding another edition of the competition in 2022 and for maintaining the partnership with Brass Band Mediterranée in the future.

Roy Terry