With trumpets, saxophones, clarinet, baritones, helicons and percussion Fanfara play brass band music for dancing. They regularly visit and study with Roma musicians from Serbia, Romania and Macedonia and have studied in Cuba with carnival brass musicians. Under the guest direction of Russian virtuoso singer Polina Shepherd, they blend traditional, revolutionary, and dancing songs with fast and soulful brass band music.
Polina Shepherd (Skovoroda) is an internationally renowned singer. Born in Sibaria, Russia, she learned music as a child from her grandfather, a button accordianist, and her mother, a singer. She soon became her mothers accompanist playing the dark theatres of Tatarstan to wildly responsive audiences. Following her training at Kazan State Conservatory she specialised in vocal techniques based on instrumental ornamentation and Russian folk songs. Singing in Russian and Yiddish she has worked and recorded in Max Pashm’s “Never Mind the Balkans” and many other bands, orchestras and choirs.
Based in Brighton, Fanfara have been performing across the UK since 2003, with up to twelve brass and percussion players, they regularly featuring Merlin Shepherd, one of the worlds leading exponents of Klezmer clarinet. Merlin specialises in Jewish instrumental folk music of Eastern European and has recently returned from recording in the Ukraine with the Former Soviet Union Klezmer Allstars.
Other members of Fanfara are musical directors and composers. They have performed as far a–field as Borneo Rainforest Music Festival, Carnival in Cuba and Sydney Opera House.
The music Fanfara play is in the style of Eastern European brass bands, the best know being the Roma groups of master musicians; Fanfare Ciocarlia (Romania), Boban Markovic (Serbia) and Original Kocani Orkestar (Macedonia). Members of Fanfara have studied with musicians from all these groups, learning songs and techniques.