Brijuni Islands
14 August 2015

World's first freefall trumpet solo!

Holiday, what holiday?
A visit to the Brijuni Islands, Croatia, with Kathron Sturrock (piano), Ann MacKay (soprano).
I'm guessing you've probably never heard of the Brijuni Islands. This small archipelago of fourteen islands are situated north of Pula and became famous as the private retreat of President Tito, the Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, before being accorded national park status in 1983. The chances are that you also weren't aware that it was from these islands, littered with ancient Roman settlements, that the stones were quarried to build the palaces and bridges of the great city of Venice.

Therefore, an opportunity to visit such an exotic location couldn't be missed so I willingly accepted the invitation to perform - along with Kathron Sturrock (piano) and Ann Mackay (soprano) - at the David Bennett Summer School for Intensive Care Medicine, an annual conference where the latest developments in the specialist field of intensive care are shared and analysed. It takes place beside the Adriatic Sea in the Hotel Neptun-Istra, an historic residence built for the benefit of President Tito and his entourage, where almost 100 foreign heads of state visited Tito along with film stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponti and Gina Lollobrigida

The conference is relaxed and informal, and a popular addition to the medical conference calendar. Our performance took place in a beautiful, 14th century church situated next to the harbour where the ferry brings tourists to the islands from the small fishing village of Fa�ana, the nearest point on the mainland of Croatia.

Kathron, Annie and I presented a delightful programme of Handel, Cecilia McDowall, Roger Quilter, Henri Busser and JS Bach, which was very well received by an enthusiastic audience of doctors and professors, followed by a superb banquet of local food provided by the hotel.

Our stay on the islands also allowed time for a cycle ride around the national park - no cars are allowed - which, was more strenuous than you might expect given the hilly terrain and the rather ancient, single-geared bicycle that I hired from the local bike shop. The weather was glorious, blue sky, perfect sea and the ride allowed us to see some of the 600 indigenous plant species on the island along with the oak and conifer trees which are very characteristic of the region.

Our return to London was elongated slightly to incorporate lunch at a delightful fish restaurant in the old town of Fa�ana. Plus some anxious moments at Pula airport whilst we waited for the delayed incoming flight to take us to our connection to London at Zagreb. Fortunately, on this occasion we had a happy ending and all our travel arrangements worked out favourably. A happy end to a delightful and memorable few days.
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