Organized by Edda Silvestri’s AIMART Academy and its trumpet lecturer Giuliano Sommerhalder as artistic director, the second edition of the Girolamo Fantini International Trumpet Competition took place in the time-honored palazzi of the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music and of the Embassy of Hungary in Rome from February 17 to 24, 2019, with BNL-Paribas and HIND SpA as main sponsors.
The competition is innovative, in that the individual scores obtained in all rounds are added up to a final score and thus determine the overall ranking, and the fact that the contestants are given the possibility to present themselves at their best in a performance of their own choice. From their video recording of a Théo Charlier Étude Transcendante, 44 out of 67 applicants were admitted and 39 found their way to Italy’s capital from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The Eternal City welcomed them with sunshine and with an opening concert, where two jury members, Marc Geujon (France) and Rex Richardson (USA), brought the house down performing Robert Planel’s Trumpet Concerto and Allen Vizzutti’s Three World Winds, respectively. The remaining judges in the competition were Tine Thing Helseth (Norway), Friedemann Immer (Germany), Max Sommerhalder (Switzerland), Omar Tomasoni (Italy) and Tamás Velenczei (Hungary).
In the first round, Øistein Sommerfeldt’s Divertimento Op. 21 for unaccompanied trumpet, as a set piece, had to be performed along with one of the following works: Arthur Honegger’s Intrada, Jeanine Rueff’s Sonatine, Vassily Brandt’s Concertpiece no. 1, Gustav Cords’ Concert Fantasy or Jean Françaix’ Sonatina. 21 players, over half of the applicants, were admitted to the second round in which they were to première the work commissioned for the competition, Vulcano Club for unaccompanied trumpet by the young Italian composer, Piergiorgio Ratti, plus their choice from the following options: a selection of orchestral excerpts or any piece at their discretion (jazz, baroque or classical on historical instruments or a “freestyle” performance). In short, whatever they felt would present themselves at their best.
Eight players were moved on to the semifinals, and the variety of “musical self-portraits” they had chosen for the second round was interesting: Aaron Akugbo (UK) and Marion Vezzosi (France) had opted for a set of orchestral excerpts from Mahler’s 5th and 7th symphonies, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Mussorgsky’s and Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Verdi’s Otello. The valveless baroque trumpet in D, at A=415 Hz, was the vehicle for both Maximilian Morel (France) in Telemann’s four-movement Concerto and Andreu Vidal (Spain) in Torelli’s ‘Étienne Roger’ Concerto. Matilda Lloyd (UK) chose Sarabande et Finale by Raymond Gallois-Montbrun, and Philippe Préponiot (France) interpreted Hans-Werner Henze’s Sonatina for unaccompanied trumpet. Two contestants presented compositions of their own: Emilia Suchlich (Germany) performed her Schön absurd [Pretty absurd], a witty patchwork of orchestral excerpts arranged for a dancing trumpeter and an (obviously stationary) double-bass player, both of whom doubled as singers, whereas Nicolas Chatenet (France) played his monumental composition Electronic Pressure for trumpet and pre-recorded tape. Other contestants had performed folk or popular music from their respective countries. The range of styles was very impressive. Playing all optional works from memory was compulsory.
The semifinal and final rounds were accompanied by the Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese, conducted by Roman Spitzer. Of the eight semifinalists, who had performed the entire Haydn concerto by memory, Akugbo, Chatenet and Lloyd were given the opportunity to perform André Jolivet’s Second Trumpet Concerto in the final round.
Nicolas Chatenet (France) was declared the winner of the First Prize (9,000 euros plus an engagement as a soloist with the Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese), as well as of the Special Prize for the best performance in the “freestyle” category of the 2nd round (1,000 euros). Third Prizes, of 3,000 euros each, were awarded to Matilda Lloyd and Aaron Akugbo (both from the UK). Akugbo also won the Special Prize of 1,000 euros for the best interpretation of the commissioned piece, Piergiorgio Ratti’s Volcano Club. All three laureates performed in the final gala concert.
Erick Venditte dos Santos (Brazil) was distinguished by a scholarship, with a worth of 1,700 euros for studying at AIMART. Andreu Vidal (Spain), Marion Vezzosi (France), and Maximilian Morel (France), each won a trumpet of their choice donated by the Schilke (Chicago), Schagerl (Mank) and Cristian Bosc (Chambave) companies, respectively.