The Miner’s Brass Band or Pleharji (brass players), as we call them in Zagorje, have been making music history for over half a century. In the mid-seventies of the last century, the band was renamed “Delavski pihalni orkester” (The Workers’ Brass Orchestra); they have now merged with the SVEA Zagorje ‘Brass Orchestra, in which both young and older music fans play, roaming across virtually all of Europe (the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Italy, Austria and the countries of ex-Yugoslavia). At competitions, the orchestra successfully defended its quality and likeability; in 1981, it was crowned with a gold medal at the World Championships in Kerkrade, the Netherlands. Eleven years later, it won another victory at a competition in Bamberg, Germany. At the celebration of its 135th anniversary, the orchestra was even heard by Pope Janez Paul II as the musicians played in the Vatican palace. One year later, the band represented Slovenia in Moscow, which was then celebrating its 850th anniversary.
Singing is also a traditional activity in this region seeing that the beginnings of choral singing date back to more than 100 years ago. The mining tradition, incorporated into the miner’s choir Loški glas (The Voice of Loke) is outwardly visible since the singers usually wear formal miner’s uniforms when performing.
The singers in the “Loška glas”choir consider it a great honour that the world-renowned bassist and opera singer Ladko Korosec sang with them for so many years.
When Julius Plhnak established the first choir in Zagorje back in 1871, he probably never imagined that the choir and its tradition would stand the test of time. Nearly 100 years later, The choir was named Vesna after a former workers’ education society, with the ambition to combine the best young singers. And he totally succeeded seeing that, for than 30 years, the youth choir Vesna was one of the most award-winning choirs - not just at home, but worldwide - even at the largest and oldest competition for children and youth choirs (from 1966 onwards). Singing is in our genes, so it is no coincidence that this competition was created in Zagorje and it has been attracting young singers both from our homeland and from abroad for decades. It is the greatest wish and greatest experience for young singers to sing at the Zagorje competition. To win this competition is a prestige which is given to few and it is the highest achievement a choir can achieve. The choirs of Zagorje are an important pebble in this mosaic of winners or perhaps I should rather say rock. What the “CiCiDO” child choir of the Zagorje Music School has achieved since 2000 is outstanding and has no comparison. At the biggest competition in the country, the young singers (boys and girls) are regularly declared to be the best, achieving the highest recognition and praise. More and more generations of great musicians and singers are growing in our valley and, in recent times, also dancers, so Zagorje will remain a city of dance and music.
It is also a city of colour. In 1964, some eminent Slovenian artists were sent to the valley for a few days to create some images of the grey industrial landscape; when they came, they must have unknowingly infected the city with the art of painting forever more and painted it with a bright and energetic colours. Their socializing resulted in the establishment of the oldest art colony in Central Europe, which has been operating non-stop and has left Zagorje with a priceless heritage. Approximately 1,000 works are stored at the Cultural Centre named “Delavski dom” and that number increases each year by another 20 works of art or so. This priceless treasure is a true display of Slovenian fine art from more recent times as, so far, all of the most important artists of the Slovenian art scene have been in this colony. Art works of more than 20 artists who have received the Prešeren award or some other recognition for their work are kept at the art colony. A selection of their works has been compiled to represent the colony’s finest selection and is displayed at exhibitions at home and abroad. The art colony already exceeded the domestic sphere years ago and is now in a true sense international because at least half of the 10 to 12 artists each year come from various European countries.
This is just some and certainly not all of what constitutes our creativity.