Conductor Thomas Clamor and European Brass Ensemble

Schagerl, European Brass Ensemble, Stift Melk, Conductor Thomas Clamor

The European thought of Music

With the aim of fostering active music culture in Europe. Prof. Thomas Clamor, chief conductor of the “Saxon Wind Philharmonic”, has founded the EUROPEAN BRASS ENSEMBLE. Members of this ensemble come from diverse parts of Europe with only one aim in mind: achieving cultural exchange with the help of music on the highest level.


EUROPEAN BRASS ENSEMBLE is not only the name, but also the slogan of this unique project. The overall aim of this project founded in 2010 is to foster an active music culture in Lower Austria and, in a wider sense, also across Europe with the help of young brass players, coming together for rehearsals and concerts on a project basis.

The ensemble offers an artistic as well as culturally interesting “exchange project”: an exchange of various cultures, customs and values, but a shared language – music. In the interest of the “common European thought”, the development of numerous brass talents all over Europe can be fostered and enriched.

No less a figure than Prof. Thomas Clamor is the initiator as well as musical director of this project – he is enjoying a worldwide reputation as one of the best conductors for brass chamber music.

A unique opportunity is also offered by the cooperation with Melk Abbey (Lower Austria). The monastery, well-known for its continuous work and great interested in art and its promotion, is one of the most precious cultural assets in the world (“Best Historic Destination of the World 2008” as well as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage) and is globally acknowledged and admired as a representative of Austria and the Baroque period, respectively. As the patron of the EUROPEAN BRASS ENSEMBLE, Melk Abbey will always be the home of this ensemble.

Since its foundation in summer 2010, the ensemble has given several concerts with varying musical emphases, but always with rapturous acclaim from the audience. Considerable events were especially the opening concert of the “Schagerl Brass Festival 2011”, two appearances as part of the “Innsbrucker Promenadenkonzerte”, the “Carinthischer Brass Herbst” of Ossiach as well as at the 12th International Merano Brass Festival. Additional highlights were the cooperations with James Morrison and Hans Gansch.

Extract of an interview with Prof. Thomas Clamor by Markus Bebek… Mr Clamor, the first steps of the project “EUROPEAN BRASS ENSEMBLE” have already been taken. Now, work shall be intensified even further. How does it feel when a conceived concept finally takes shape and, what is more, turns out to be a huge success?

Indeed, the first steps of a wonderful dream have been realised with the initial projects of a big classical European brass ensemble. This long-cherished dream of mine has finally come true and, with the support and help of numerous good friends, it could be implemented to an extraordinary pilot project.

Did the Venezuelan “El Sistema”, where you have been actively and successfully involved not least with the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble, serve as a model for this project?

When I got to know the Venezuelan system exactly 15 years ago, I was immediately fascinated. This fascination has not stopped yet so that it strongly influenced my life as a musician. The responsibility and trust that was placed in me when realising my projects obliged me to organise continuous work on my projects as well as to understand the actual philosophy behind this globally unique social project even better.

Because of the rapid formation of the “Venezuelan Brass Ensemble”, which works as the ambassador of the system and its country, many international concerts could be given. Within the last couple of years we were given the opportunity to perform at every big festival within Europe (Luzern Festival, Salzburg Festival, Late Night Proms Concert at Royal Albert Hall, etc.). Moreover, concert tours through the north and south of America, China and various other parts of Europe have been made.

I am mentioning all of this in this context because (besides this work with my friends in South America) I kept wondering: “How could such a project that is unique in the world in many respects be founded and supported in Europe as well?”. Most notably, I am referring to the social aspects involved in such work as well as the support of young people.

So there are numerous factors interacting with regard to this project, aren't they?

The great synergy effects of such a project are not to be underestimated and need to be strongly emphasised. In the interest of a European unification, I wish to initiate a cross-border and connecting music project for cultural exchange that can be regarded as unique in the form of a big classical brass ensemble.

Tour 2013 Director by Thomas Clamor

One of my aims is to provide classical works with completely new dimensions of sound and interpretations and, as a result, to allow performances at the highest level also for big brass ensembles. Apart from this, I would like to enable cultural exchange on an international level (in the last years, at least 12 different nationalities have been involved) and thereby facilitating precious experiences for highly gifted young musicians from all the countries involved. Additionally, I am planning to effectively use the countless possibilities in terms of music sociology offered by such a formation. No less appealing is the role of a European cultural representative. We would take over a broad scope of tasks of a genre, which again can be regarded as unique.

It seems to me that this project is driven by far more than mere good spirit…

Indeed it is. Owing to the very intensive and generous support of Melk Abbey, the state government of Lower Austria and the great idealism of my friend Karl Schagerl, his international contacts and his entire company, first steps towards an extraordinary pilot projects have been made. In my view, the scope of such a project is endless and, as a result, highly worthy of support. It is brave people who are needed to develop all of these ideas even further. But in the last 15 years, I have been very lucky to meet many ever so brave people. Never in my life have I seen clearer the power of language and music and what they can achieve.

I am very much looking forward to this future-oriented and charitable project of a EUROPEAN BRASS ENSEMBLE:

Mr Clamor, thank you very much for this conversation!

In Residence

What a sound! Inspired by his work in Venezuela with the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble, Thomas Clamor - who, after his years as member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra today is an internationally sought-after conductor and artistic director of the Saxon Philharmonic Band, as well as artistic director of the German Wind Academy - founded a very special orchestra in 2010 together with Karl Schagerl, transcending nations and borders:

The European Brass Ensemble. More than 150 musicians from more than 20 nations have already taken part in the elite-ensemble that has found a home in Stift Melk in Austria. (…)

You cannot possibly imagine a better ambassador than the European Brass Ensemble! (…)

The entire Ensemble is just sensational. (…)

Phenomenal! Just go and listen to them!

Thomas Clamor - In ResidenceWorks by Leonard Bernstein, Georges Bizet, James Morrison, Sergei Prokofie v and Richard Wagner
Sound Samples, Thomas Clamor - In Residence Sound Samples

Joint Foreword

Europe in focus and culture at the heart are two phrases which summarize the idea and work behind the European Brass Ensemble. Since its founding in 2010, this international orchestra impressively displays the magic and power inherent in music. Not without reason is music considered to be one of the most beautiful bridges to cross borders and join people and cultures. Musicians coming together from all over Europe to give widely-acclaimed performances in Europe and abroad make the European Brass Ensemble an exemplary project for how Europe can grow together. It is an important sign at a time when the unification of Europe is under great scrutiny. We are particularly proud that this orchestra has made its base and point of departure in Lower Austria. With this new CD, the European Brass Ensemble has taken another step forward in its development and made its impressive artistic work accessible to a wider public. We would like to congratulate them on this achievement. May you enjoy this lively cultural experience with the European Brass Ensemble! Dr. Erwin Pröll Dr. Stephan Pernkopf - Landeshauptmann Niederösterreich - Landesrat Niederösterreich

A Quest for LoveMusic and Deep Sentiments

How does one capture love musically? Is it the moment when one's heart falters, the stars shine, or the world begins to turn? How does the music sound that tells us of the great lovers in our literary history:Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and Carmen and Don José? The stories of these mythical figures all end in tragedy. Their love comes upon them like a force of nature, and either the pair is consumed by their love or it inflames their surroundings so that they are thrown into ruin. These contrasts are the same ones with which Sergei Prokofiev, Leonard Bernstein, Richard Wagner and Georges Bizet enthrall us. The moments of sheer ecstasy and utter bliss only appear against the backdrop of the tragic or comic. Prokofiev sets the tenderness of Romeo and Juliet's love against the prominent rhythm of the Veronese society. Bernstein follows the intimate Tonight, when Romeo and Juliet here known as Tony and Maria come together for the first time, with the exuberant America. What worlds full of contrasts are the composers carrying us off to in which they musically portray these great lovers?

As Bizet's Carmen was being rehearsed in Paris in 1875, the theater directors feared a scandal, and the performers were urged to have integrity on stage. The storyline and depiction of the characters seemed too risqué:A gypsy working in a cigarette factory seduces a soldier. Because of her, he forgets his duties, or rather, becomes a deserter and joins a group of smugglers. In the end, the soldier brutally stabs his unfaithful seductress in public. That “ordinary people” would be so prominently displayed on the operatic stage was completely new for the audience. That a woman would so autonomously fight and die for her desires and love was equally new. Today, Bizet's music still sounds just as direct and straightforward as the storyline of the opera. He pulls us into the colorful atmosphere of the Spanish marketplace Aragonaise, La Garde Montante and describes the life of soldiers Les dragons d'Alcala. The Habanera is Carmen's opening aria. She sings about love's elusiveness for the men in general and for those who do not appear to be interested in her, in particular Don José. When she later dances the Danse bohême in the following act, the offi has already been sitting in prison for her for a month. The love that she sings of here is more than fervent:“…intoxicated with fever, born away by rapture!”

The contrast between Carmen andTristan und Isolde, composed by Richard Wagner ten years earlier, could not be greater. In this work, the society and its surroundings only exist in relationship to the love between the two protagonists. The music is not colorful and diverse, but rather determined and broad sweeping in a way which had not been heard before. The entire four and a half hour musical drama spans a giant arc from the opening measures, where the mysterious “Tristan chord” appearing for the first time raises seemingly insoluble problems, to the end of the work when only then are these questions ultimately answered. Isolde's Liebestod is both the musical resolution and conclusion to Wagner's musical drama. After Tristan and Isolde have talked about eternal love for three acts and how they cannot really be together on earth, Isolde dies next to her already lifeless lover, the love death (Liebestod). “Gently and softly how he smiles…” she fantasizes and throws herself into an increasingly agitated state until at the end she lifelessly sinks to the fl The music, however, reaches towards heaven as the celestial sounds of the final chords waft away in the brightest key of B major:the B major key that the Tristan chord at the beginning had already longed for…

William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet belongs in the category of world literature that has most often been set to music. Perhaps the most well-known are Prokofiev's ballet music and Bernstein's West Side Story, where the events are transferred from Verona during the Renaissance to New York during the 1950s. Prokofiev was a master of rhythm:His music pulsates, leaps, hops and throbs. Prokofiev's rhythms can even assume comical features, for example in the short March from his enchanting opera The Love for Three Oranges. It appears obvious to us today that he was predestined to write ballet music. In his day, however, people were not so sure. The dancer Galina Ulanova, who was to premiere the role of Julia, even wanted to wager that there was “nothing worse than Prokofiev's ballets”. The greatest scenes of the ballet, where Romeo and Juliet's rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets, confront each other, are quite dramatic and the dance scenes are filled with rousing momentum Dance. Breathlessly we follow the fight scenes in their relentless impetus (e.g. Tybalt's Death). The surprise is therefore even greater and more poignant when the music in the love scene sprouts wings, and when at the end of Tybalt's Death, Lady Capulet's anguish surpasses the rhythm's boundaries.

The figures from Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story from 1957 live in a world full of confl The tragedy does not only result from their traditionally feuding families, but also from the pre-established Americans in New York stirring up hatred towards the newly immigrated Puerto Ricans and vice versa. The Jets fight against the Sharks, their lifestyles colliding. Bernstein takes the contrasts in his music to the extreme not only in the character and atmosphere of each individual number, but also in the style and musical language. Jazz appears alongside atonal music, hits next to strict counterpoint, the most complicated rhythms beside spherical sounds. Already with the Prologue we are thrown into this world of back alleys and fire escapes. The nonchalant teenagers snapping their fingers and showing off stand next to motifs that anticipate the love between Tony and Maria. Is America the place for us all and our love-an “America” that joins the U.S. citizens and the Puerto Ricans together? Somewhere -someplace! -there must be a place. Yet the music fl into an eerie, illusory dance. At the end a shot rings out:Tony is dead. Maria and the other young people carry him away together in a funeral procession. All that is left is silence, the memory of Maria and Tony's love and the hope of a “somewhere”.

Now, however, enough has been said. Let the music play, for even the beginning of this CD is a musical declaration of love:namely that of the great James Morrison to the European Brass Ensemble and its birthplace sitting high above the Danube enthroned by the Melk Abbey.Tilmann Böttcher

The Artists

Biographical Notes

The Artists Biographic al Not est the beginning of every project there is an idea and above all the courage and imagination to then pursue it. In 2010 Thomas Clamor and Karl Schagerl had the idea to combine Mr. Clamor's experience in Venezuela, where he founded the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble, with the possibilities, resources and European concept of bringing people together. This was to become the starting point of a steadily growing and developing musical as well as cultural showcase project. You are holding the first fruits of this project's labor in your hands: For this idea, two other men were also brought on board, Abbot Georg Wilfi and Father Martin Rothenender, representatives of the Benedictine Order of Melk. Through this collaboration, a unique opportunity arose to work with the Melk Abbey (Lower Austria), which is one of the most valued cultural and historical estates in the world. It became a patron for the European Brass Ensemble and will always be considered this ensemble's “home”. The final member to complete this team was the Culture Department of Lower Austria under the direction of Dr. Erwin Pröll, whose financial support made this entire project possible. Already more than 150 musicians from a total of 24 diff countries are involved in this ensemble. They have performed at, among others, the 2011 and 2014 Schagerl Brass Festival, the 12 th International Brass Festival in Meran in 2013, the 2013 Carinthian Brass Autumn in Ossiach, and the Sauerland Herbst in 2015 as well as having been a regular guest at the “Innsbruck Promenade Concerts” since 2012. The European Brass Ensemble has already worked with James Morrison and Hans Gansch.

As a conductor, teacher and musical ambassador crossing all borders, Thomas Clamor transmits his dedication and enthusiasm to his musicians and audience alike. In addition to being the principle conductor of the Saxon Wind Philharmonic (Saxon Wind Philharmonic), he is an internationally sought after guest conductor for multiple symphonic orchestras and chamber music ensembles around the world. Many well-respected audio, video and radio broadcast recordings document the stylistic range of his artistic work.

Thomas Clamor founded the European Brass Ensemble, based in Austria at the Melk Abbey (UNESCO-World Heritage Site), as well as the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble, which has placed him on some of the greatest stages in the world. He has conducted at, among others, the Salzburg Festival, the London Proms, Carnegie Hall and the Berlin Philharmonic and is a well-received guest by many orchestras in China, Korea, South America and Europe.

Pedagogically, Thomas Clamor is also continually taking on new challenges. Since 2011 he has been the director of the German Wind Academy. He was a guest professor in Weimar and Detmold and is a professor (honoris causa) at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. At the Berlin Hanns Eisler School of Music he laid the foundation for the department of Music Communications and initiated projects with his students in some of Berlin's more socially diffi areas. Social issues are also at the heart of “El Sistema” in Venezuela, one of the most significant worldwide social projects, having been built from the concept of music's power to change. For 15 years, Thomas Clamor's work there has been held in high regard, as he gives children and adolescents a vision for the future.

For many years the Berlin Philharmonic was Thomas Clamor's musical home. In 1986 Herbert von Karajan hired the trumpet player as the youngest member of the world-class orchestra. He remained a member of the Philharmonics for over 20 years. During this time he became acquainted with the most important stages in the world and experienced the greatest soloists and conductors in their daily work.

Even today Thomas Clamor works and conducts with the highest level of artistic exchange. In 2015 he was awarded a German Order of Merit. With his artistic excellence he is an exemplary model of someone who not only makes impressive social contributions but is also actively involved in national and international education. Thomas Clamor never presents himself on stage as just a musician, but as a whole person. Through his art and projects, he shows how important music is for every individual and what art can achieve in society.

James Morrison is known throughout the world for his sheer brilliance as a jazz musician and an all-around entertainer. He is constantly on the move, touring everywhere and anywhere that fine music has an audience. Bursting onto the international stage at age 16, James Morrison debuted in the USA at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Appearances at Europe's major festivals including Montreux, Nice and Bern, where he played with jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, B. B. King and Wynton Marsalis, followed his debut. He also enjoyed playing gigs in the world's most famous jazz clubs such as The Blue Note in New York, the New Morning in Paris, The Tokyo Blue Note and Ronnie Scott's in London.

Thus far, James Morrison's career has been diverse and perhaps not typical of most jazz musicians. He recorded Jazz Meets the Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin and gave concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. In addition to two Royal Command Performances for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, he was invited by special request to perform for US Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama.

In 2000, James Morrison composed and performed the fanfare for the Olympic Games' Opening Ceremony in Sydney. He has also received recognition for his service to the arts in Australia by being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia with particular mention of his contribution to music education. In 2015, he established the James Morrison Academy of Music in Mount Gambier, South Australia, an innovative school dedicated to teaching jazz and off a Bachelor's Degree in Music. This initiative involves educators from all over the world, transforming young musicians' lives through inspiration and a love of jazz. With his wide-range of interests and a career overfl with highlights it seems that James Morrison must have done just about everything he could want to have done. When asked what he could possibly have left to do, his typical reply is: “This is just the warm up!”


The European Brass Ensemble, with which I have already had the pleasure of making music several times, is one of the best brass ensembles in the world. Together with their highly dedicated artistic director and conductor Thomas Clamor, they thrill their enthusiastic audiences again and again. I wish the European Brass Ensemble continued success on their way as they bring people together.Hans Gansch

The European Brass Ensemble is like no other group I have played with, bringing together musicians from so many countries who all share a love of brass and musical excellence. Under the baton of Thomas Clamor they create a sound that warms the heart of all who listen. James Morrison

I would personally like to warmly congratulate my friend Thomas Clamor and his European Brass Ensemble for this CD and to express my thanks for the many wonderful hours that we enjoyed together during the rehearsal periods and at the fabulous concerts. Let yourself be taken away on a fantastic journey with the magicians of sound, Thomas Clamor and his musicians. Karl Schagerl, CEO of Schagerl Meisterinstrumente GmbH

Thomas Clamor, at Melk Abbey, James Morrison European Brass Ensemble, Thomas Clamor at Melk Abbey, James Morrison

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