Initially, the festival was predominantly dedicated to classical music, which is still at the heart of the programme today. “The festival programme is based on classical music or ‘healthy food’, with a few ‘desserts’ of our own production that we prepare each year,” explains Brence. Later, jazz and crossover were added to the programme. “The main guideline of the festival is quality, regardless of the genre. We have never limited ourselves to specific genres.”
That is what makes the Bled Festival so special. The participating musicians are looking to build on the classical tradition and integrate their own ideas. “We are one big community, where each member is autonomous,” says Nejc, as Prof. Brence is known among friends. It is precisely because the performers are given free rein to choose their own programme that the atmosphere at the festival is so pleasantly relaxed – perfect for summer. “This isn’t just dull work, an ordinary job – you actually know who you love.”
The positive chemistry that develops among the festival creators soon spreads to the visitors. Audiences don’t just listen to the concerts – they often absorb the music with their entire body. Of course the venues also play their part, from the magnificent acoustics in the church of St. Martin to the intimate atmosphere of the Belvedere Pavilion.
The Bled Festival places great emphasis on the young artists who come here to perform from all corners of the world. For some of them, the festival has proved a springboard for a successful career. One example is the Polish artist, Piotr Jasiurkowski. Having won the EMCY international music competition at the Bled Festival, today he is the youngest university lecturer in Europe. Jasiurkowski loves to return to Bled, not least because of the pleasant memories of his victory. “I’ve fallen in love with this town, the festival, the concerts. The atmosphere here is simply wonderful!” Today Piotr takes part in the festival as a masterclass teacher. “I try to be understanding – I know that my students would like to have a day or two off to explore the local area. That way, they will keep coming back because they know that it’s not all about hard work but can also feel like having a bit of a holiday.”
The local community welcomes the arrival of young musicians to Bled. “This is the perfect place for young people to be creative and learn new things,” said Janez Fajfar, the Mayor of Bled. “They are the future stars and their audiences. These are the people we want to attract, because they have a positive attitude to culture,” added Fajfar.
The Bled Festival is a summer confection for every taste.
Popotovanje od Portoroža do Poreča, Fetival Bled 2011
Jernej Brence in Amadeo Tommassi: Autumn leaves