What can I say about my trip to Budrio ocarina festival, the biannual gathering in the Italian home town of the instrument? No words really do justice to the experience, it was an utterly fantastic. Really the most enjoyable thing I've done in recent times. Here are some stories of my trip.
I must admit that in the time leading up to the festival, my enthusiasm for this work was dwindling. I made the stock I took to sell on a last push of will, barely making it in time. But I'm so glad I did. Before it was like I was trapped in a closet, the festival threw open the doors to a whole new world. It has really rekindled my fire.
Seeing the performances of many highly talented ocarinists, and trying all of the ocarinas on display was wonderful. Coming from a world where, upon mentioning the ocarina people usually stare bewildered, it was awesome being with so many ocarina enthusiasts in the same place.
But the thing that stood out most was just how open everyone was, and even the language barrier worked to make the whole thing more memorable. It was very interesting talking with everyone and picking up many valuable techniques for my playing and making.
I also talked with other makers including Hans Rotter and Oliver Gosselink, who where very interesting to talk with. Having so many people test my work was very valuable for me, and many people liked the mellow sound of my ocarinas.
As I expected, talking with everyone and particularly trying all of the ocarinas on display at the festival did bring up many areas needing improvement in my work. Consequently I am presently putting a lot of effort into exploring and implementing what I have learned.
There was a makers meeting, offering an opportunity for all of the makers present to share their goals and ideas. Of particular interest was a demonstration of an unusual double ocarina, with a second chamber configured to extend the range downwards.
I also learned a lot from the historical ocarinas in the museum. made greatly more valuable by explanations and demonstrations by Kresmir, who has spent many hours studying them. Several of these ocarinas appear to defy the laws of physics, like one with two corks removable for tuning. Removing them left a massive hole and with my understanding, an ocarina should not play with such a massive hole. Yet it did with all holes open, and not poorly ether.
Kresimir and Gosselink also played this monster of a bass ocarina.
The performers at the Budrio festival really exhibited what the instrument is capable of. I've seen many ocarina groups before on the internet but seeing and hearing them in person was so much more enjoyable. I enjoyed range, fast intricate music to slower tunes, both from soloists and ensembles. Performers included the Ocarina Seven, Vera Unfried (above) and the Gruppo Ocarinistico Budriese (GOB), the group continuing the ocarina septet tradition in Budrio.
One really inspiring player was Øystein, who's commitment to the instrument is so strong that when he lost a hand he set about developing a custom double ocarina that could be played one handed. And he plays it beautifully I may add.
A final memorable performance was Fabio Galliano and Emiliano Bernagozzi breaking out with La Chiaccherina during the ocarina market. With both players on the same ocarina!