Guča trumpet festival, also known as the Dragačevski sabor trubača (Serbian), is an annual brass band festival in the town of Guča, near Čačak city in Dragačevo, region of western Serbia. Guča is a three-hour car journey from Belgrade.
Half million visitors from Serbia and the world come to the town of 2,000 citizens each August.
Elimination heats earlier in the year mean only a few dozen bands get to compete.
That events features previous winners, each bands getting to play three tunes while folk dancers, all kitted out in bright knitting patterns, dance kolo and oro in front of a hyped-up audience.
The little city of Guca has gained world fame owing to its Assembly of Trumpet Players, the largest trumpet event in the world. The love of the people of Dragačevo for the music, especially for the trumpet music, began in the rule of Knjaz Miloš Obrenović, who formed the first military band in 1831. From that period, 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, farewell parties for those joining military service, state and church festivals, harvesting, reaping, and also departing the 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 kolo (a fast-rhythm Serbian chain dance), marches and characteristic southern Serbia čoček dances, all the way to tunes that have emerged more recently, but always taking care to honor old harmonies. 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 Guca festival, hardly anyone can resist giving themselves to the adrenaline-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 owing to the trumpet that the name of Serbia has resounded worldwide, in all the continents. Some orchestras, when they appear on stage, whether for official competition national dress, the authentic and indigenous dances and other folk-inspired elements, coupled with music, have become an integral part of national gathering. The virtuoso music performers, the trumpet players to the paradox and make the story more authentic – are for the most part fully self-taught. They play on the ear and quite spontaneously, relying on their musical memory; they play from the heart and soul, and their music reaches out to listeners precisely for this quality. The Guča 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 Guca festival was held on October 16, 1961 in the yard of the Church of St Gabriel in Guča. Initially, it was a very modest Assembly – almost subversive for the prevailing political circumstances of that time. However, the Assembly gradually grew and expanded its, one might say, magical influence, and over the past ten or so years has become the folk remained its key symbol, it is no longer held solely for the trumpet players. It has grown into an Assembly of toastmasters, painters, song Sa Ovčara i Kablara, marks the beginning of the festival each year. Some church music festivals not with standing, the Assembly of Trumpet Players is the best know event of this kind extending uninterruptedly for 43 years and attracting guests and musicians a like from every continent. Trumpet players and folk song and dance groups from around the world deem it a great honor to be invited to the Assembly, and the number of visitors increases each year.
With considerable experience in organizing Assemblies, today the traditionally hospitable Guča has earned its place on the map of world music festivals, inviting high interest from etno 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, Guča is a place of catharsis of the heart and soul while the festival lasts. All this is more than enough to attract visitors to Guča from Australia, USA, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Brazil, Argentina and many other countries. The names of Boban Marković, Dejan Petrović, brought a glory of the Serbian trumpet across the world. Nowadays, Guča festival is well known all over the world, as a place where you can find good music, fun, very good food and where you can spend perfect vacation.