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The 16th Fira turns Manresa into a great crucible of Mediterranean culture

Great crucible, meeting place and forum for dialogue between Mediterranean cultures, are the essential themes running through the 16th Fira Mediterrània New sections and a climate of mutual understanding between sector stakeholders and events, both at home and abroad, have resulted in a crowd-pulling programme at this year’s Fira Mediterrània
2013/10/03 08:00:00 Europe/Madrid
  • Great crucible, meeting place and forum for dialogue between Mediterranean cultures, are the essential themes running through the 16th Fira Mediterrània
  • New sections and a climate of mutual understanding between sector stakeholders and events, both at home and abroad, have resulted in a crowd-pulling programme at this year’s Fira Mediterrània
  • Networking Meetings, Speed Dating, showcases and one-day conferences will be making the Llotja-Business Area into a lively business hub, with a total of 85 activities scheduled for registered delegates
  • All tickets for paying shows will go on sale from Friday 4 October

From 7 to 10 November, the 16th Fira Mediterrània of Manresa will be presenting a huge variety of cultural expression, ranging from traditional forms to the latest technological innovation, along with a fantastic community festival atmosphere and a wealth of creative experimentation. A grand total of 113 productions in 232 performances. Fira Mediterrània is a hugely attractive and well-established arts event, thanks to the willingness of the selected artists to perform their shows several times; to Fira's strong professional activity, with 85 sessions designed for buyers and sellers; and to the Manresa Alliance, which runs a series of events put forward by cultural agents based in the town. Plus, partnerships with other event series, festivals and programmes, such as Festival EVA (En Veu Alta) for oral culture, and the new Off section Humus Mediterrani, a fertile medium for folk acts, means that Fira Mediterrània can guarantee a fantastic line-up expected to attract around one hundred thousand spectators and visitors.

This year's guest artist is Jordi Savall, who is in charge of officially getting things started at the inaugural concert with the very first performance in Catalonia of Mare Nostrum. Diàleg de les músiques otomanes, cristianes i jueves. The prestigious Catalan musician is the first of a long list of talented performers who are scheduled to take part in the four-day programme. Appearances by artists from all over the Mediterranean are proof that Fira is a well-established melting-pot for all cultures in the region. This is concept pervades the entire programme at this 16th event, bringing together a huge range of productions from all kinds of disciplines: theatre, dance, circus, music, poetry, storytelling, human towers and other folk genres. Street performances, confirming the role of the artist as an active agent of social change, are a fundamental part of this year's Fira, which is also supporting modern art forms with Emergències, a special section for more daring and innovative productions. Plus, the Off section includes two blocks of concerts - Estepa Mediterrània and the brand new Humus Mediterrani – as well as Manresa Alliance, a showcase for local cultural agents and organisations. This goodwill approach is also evident in the Llotja professional-Business Area based in Museu de la Tècnica, a space that will be hosting six themed and five logistical areas.

This year’s guest artist and the inaugural performance

Jordi Savall is probably Catalonia's most internationally famous musician and one of the most significant figures in Catalan culture, a true pioneer of artistic dialogue between cultures. The maestro will be officially opening Fira on 7 November with the very first performance of his new work, Mare Nostrum. Diàleg de les músiques otomanes, cristianes i jueves a la Mediterrània in Catalonia. The production is in concert format and takes an in-depth look at the history and idiosyncrasies of our sea and its peoples, concentrating on the eastern Mediterranean and with a new repertoire (with a predominantly Turkish-Ottoman component) and new performers.   Turkey and Israel take centre stage in a programme that highlights Savall's ability to create invisible bridges to unite souls and cultures alike. Jordi Savall’s central role in Fira Mediterrània doesn’t end with the opening performance. He will be offering a second show, The Celtic Viol, another musical dialogue based on popular tunes, in this case rooted in Celtic culture from our northern European neighbours. He is also giving a talk at the one-day conference on Art i diàleg entre cultures, which will be examining art as a tool for building cross-cultural links, and he also features in the documentaries Música Savall, Història Bòrgia and Montserrat Figueras, la veu de l’emoció.

The official programme

The official Fira programme features other extremely high quality and interesting artists and shows. Some of the most outstanding are Kiko Veneno, from Figueras (who will be premiering his new orchestrated work) and Basque-born Kepa Junkera, but there are other fantastic shows waiting to be discovered.  They include the new production by Basque company Kukai, with choreography by Cesc Gelabert, the result of their encounter at Fira 2011; Manta, a dance piece by famous Tunisian choreographer Héla Fattoumi, taking on the controversial subject of the role of women and the veil in the Arab world; a session by US DJ Filastine; plus concerts in El Sielu (European progressive jazz trio Aka Balkan Moon, Catalexi de Sergi Sirvent, Israeli artist Mor Karbasi, Franca Masu from Alghero and new Flamenco talent Rocío Márquez from Andalusia). 

The Great Crucible concept permeates the entire programme. In some cases, this approach is very clear, as in the show Dir-se en Cruïlla by Josep Pedrals, a poetry recital that tours the Mediterranean region and its words, or the closing show, the mega-production Músiques en Terres de Cruïlla, a joint performance of band music and jota dances by Agrupació Musical Senienca, Carmen París, Quicos, Pep Gimeno "Botifarra", Miquela Lladó and Claudio G. Sanna plus others, a powerful group of artists from all the Catalan-speaking territories, proving that the culture we share has no borders. At other times, the programme focuses on heritage, reclaiming the notion of roots culture and artistically valuable traditions that need protecting. Jordi Savall’s Celtic Viol with virtuoso harpist Andrew Lawrence-King and percussionist Frank McGuire is a great example of this, but so is Nus, the new show by Valencians Miquel Gil and Pep Gimeno 'Botifarra', which, to use their description, is a concert featuring numbers based on fandango, seguidilla, cants de batre, Habaneras and jotas.

Other productions use fusion and dialogue between artistic disciplines as the basis for new forms of expression, a response to a world in which stylistic frontiers are blurred or swept away altogether. This is the case of circus act Ma bête noire, in which French artist Thomas Chaussebourg presents a poetic dance choreography featuring a dancer and a horse; the piece by French group Rara Woulib, a travelling festival with 18 actors, clowns and musicians in a kind of rural carnival, a mix of the sacred and the profane to the rhythm of drums and heady melodies; and Temple, which combines Flamenco dance and tenora music played by Jordi Molina. Other shows include Emigranti, by Faber Teater (Italy), an open-air theatrical and musical journey packed with love and betrayal, dance and conflict, and two more that are suitable for audiences of all ages: Baró pels arbres, by Taaroa Teatre i Bufa & Sons, based on the novel The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino; and Poufff, by Dutch company Lichtbende, a beautiful visual and musical production with old-fashioned magic lanterns and live music in which the performers work in full view of the audience.

The 16th Fira Mediterrània is featuring a huge number of artistic projects performed in public spaces and in the streets of Manresa, such as Passage by Portuguese group PIA (Projectos de Intervenção Artística), an artistic intervention developed to transform urban space into an exceptional setting for visual poetry. This intention is also evident in the various group and community projects, like Balla-Fira, dedicated to choreographer Joan Serra, who died recently, and Taller de dansa amb el Centre Penitenciari Lledoners, a dance workshop with prisoners from Lledoners Penitentiary, coordinated by choreographer Álvaro de la Peña.

Emergències, supporting adventurous up-and-coming talent

As part of its commitment to the latest new talent and innovative formats, Fira is presenting a section entitled “Emergències”, with four brand new projects that play with the notions of research, new frontiers and folk culture to reveal the most audacious side of the artists involved. New and exciting shows in this section are Sergi Sirvent’s Catalexi, a recital based on the Catalan syllabic of “giusto” and its peculiar rhythms, accents and distinctively Catalan song forms throughout history; Mañana es Mañana, the new show by Cridacompany, a young group performing daring modern circus, with one foot in France and the other in Catalonia, that experiments with silence, sound and body language.  Dance and circus also make an appearance in Catalan act CollectifPoPs, dance piece in which five dancers use folk culture as a tool for achieving contemporaneity, and Cru, by Fet a mà (France and Catalonia), an exceptional piece featuring circus without props and based on the poetry of movement.

Evenings on the DAMM / Milcentenari stage

The Plaça Milcentenari marquee has been renamed the DAMM / Milcentenari stage thanks to sponsorship by the DAMM beer brand and will be featuring a refreshing series of performances. On Friday evening the stage will be hosting Occitan group Goulamas'k and their mix of folk, reggae, dub and ragga, plus Moussu T e lei Jovents, with their new album, followed by Catalan group Els Catarres and Valencians Orxata. The evening also includes a tribute to Carmen Amaya led by DJ Dr. Batonga between acts to mark the centenary of her birth.  Saturday is Folk Dance Night with performances by Quico el Cèlio, el Noi i el Mut de Ferreries, Xeremiers de Mallorca, Tazzuff, Castanha é Vinovèl (also from Occitania) and Valencians Urbàlia Rurana, with DJ Marcel Casellas providing the entertainment between acts.

The Off section at Fira Mediterrània

This year’s Off is bigger than ever before. The new transgressive sounds of Estepa Mediterrània, with ten concerts, is joined by Humus Mediterrani, promoted by D’Arrel, the music and gastronomy venue, and featuring eight concerts of pure folk culture with a whole kaleidoscope of performers. 

La Casa de la Música de Manresa presents Estepa Mediterrània, a well-established section that stays true to its alternative identity and its mission to reformulate the concept of what it means to be “Mediterranean”. Performances are being held from Thursday 7 to Saturday 9 in Voilà (for the first time), Stroika, El Vermell,(now open following refurbishment), La Peixera and in Plaça Gispert. Catalan artists like Joana Serrat, presenting her new album, a delicate blend of indie and pop, country and rockabilly plus jazz; Muchachito y sus compadres, who never tire of showing that live performance can still bring the house down with a single guitar, drum and voice; Germà Negre from Banyoles, party music and anthems from yesteryear passed through the Jamaican mixer and with accordion thrown in for good measure; Terrasseta de Preixens with rumba and street band music from Terres de Ponent; local guy Albert Palomar with his solo album, taking him further into singer-songwriter territory. All of them will be sharing the stage this year with acts from outside, like Madrid duet Le Parody and their unusual work, a confident mix of folk and electronic music; the punk reggae sound of Rude & The LickShots (Italy/Germany); Andalusians Sonido Vegetal and their gypsy-punk, their own peculiar blend of punk with Balkan-sounding tunes and brass sections; Caravan Palace (France) bringing straight from Paris their own personal swing with touches of Eastern and manouche jazz style and electronic sparks; and Mascarimirì (Italy), getting us all on the dance floor with their percussion and ancient Salentine tones mixed with genuine Jamaican sound-system. Humus Mediterrani is scheduling eight concerts with artists ranging from student groups playing traditional music through to folk music groups from the Bages region and other well-established line-ups from all over the Països Catalans.

Manresa Alliance, synergies with the territory and with local agents

Manresa Alliance has established itself as a showcase for the activities of cultural agents in the area around Manresa and local organisations. This umbrella covers actions in heritage sites, performances, workshops, training sessions, exhibitions and documentary film screenings. Some activities are being held at the venue in Carrer del Balç, one of Manresa’s most important heritage assets and only recently reclaimed, while other events are due to be hosted by Fundació Dieta Mediterrània. There is also a children’s workshop led by another project partner, Abacus. In fact, every year Fira tries to open up different places for the local community.  This year’s venues include the church of Crist Rei; the great hall of the modernist-style Casa Lluvià, which will be the setting for fragments of the Passió d’Olesa, and a narrative musical dialogue on the most fascinating stories about the saints.

MPM, Mediterrània Professional Meeting

Now in its sixteenth year, Fira Mediterrània of Manresa has become the biggest marketplace for traditional arts and stage events in the Mediterranean region. Over four intense days, Fira is a meeting place for sector agents, and the Llotja Professional-Business Area is an active, participative forum especially designed for the more than 1,000 delegates who usually register for the event.  Meetings, activities and business hub for the sector’s cultural provision and associated services, all based in the modern (and now heritage) setting of Museu de la Tècnica, with six themed and five logistical areas. One month away from the event, practically all the professional stands available for Fira are taken. Fira Mediterrània is the first arts fair in the State to radically transform the appearance of the stands using an innovative design based on recycled material. The Llotja will be a great hive in which the delegates are the worker bees. The design and overall staging has been done by Bages-based company A Nou Serveis D’arquitectura Immobiliaris, SL, set up by Joan Escalé (from Navarcles) and local man Lluís Piqué, which won the contract for the work through public tender.

The professional section of Fira will be running along the usual lines with events such as the professional conference on the social return of culture, with 23 speakers, plus a series of more recently introduced strategies like the network meetings and speed dating, intended to bring buyers and sellers face-to-face with each other. Network meetings, involving 25 cultural consultants, are brief, informal presentations of cultural products and professional services and are intended to foster information exchange and new networking opportunities. Speed dating sessions are fast-moving previously arranged meetings enabling artists and professionals to meet representatives from a number of fairs, festivals and performance venues.

The budget for the 2013 event is around one million euros because of the increase in private sponsorship, not only from DAMM and Obra Social “la Caixa”, but also from many small contributions, plus support from Barcelona Provincial Council and, for the first time, money provided by the Foundation that runs the event from its European Union funding allocation. This has been made possible thanks to the participation of a project headed by Rome City Council entitled “FolMus – young musicians and old stories, folk music in musEUms and more”, part of the internationalisation programme in which Fira Mediterrània Foundation is currently involved. Also as part of this programme, Fira Mediterrània of Manresa and Estivada, the quintessential Occitan festival, have signed a collaboration agreement for the 2013-2014 period, in which both events commit to a series of actions connected with artistic programming, professional activities, consultancy and communication.  Fira has also set up a long-distance connection with Poland, at the 31st Jelenia Gora Theatre Festival, with three street theatre companies travelling there to perform and a session on the history and current situation of street theatre in our country. Fira 2013 will be presenting 36 premiere performances (16 world premieres; 11 State premieres, and 9 premieres in Catalonia). Last year’s lack of co-productions has now turned into twelve at the 2013 event.

Tickets for all paying shows at this year’s Fira Mediterrània of Manresa will be on sale from Friday, 4 October. Tickets can be purchased from the Teatre Kursaal box office (Passeig Pere III, 35, Manresa), over the Internet (from the web site www.firamediterrania.cat) or by telephone (938 723 636).

Premieres and co-productions

World premieres

Taller de dansa amb el CP Lledoners – Álvaro de la Peña (dance)

House Aborígen – DJ Marcel Casellas (music)

Honor a quien honor merece – Dr. Batonga (music)

Festa Major - Els Laietans (music)

Balla Fira – Factoria Mascaró (dance)

Musiquetes de paper – Fem sonar les musiquetes i Joan Alfred (music)

Almablava – Franca Masu (music)

Grans titelles rodants / Els bowts – Galiot Teatre (theatre)

Cercavila de la imatgeria festiva de Manresa – Geganters de Manresa (theatre)

Centaures – Iguana Teatre (theatre)

Grans èxits amb orquestra – Kiko Veneno & Cordes del Món (music)

Anima’ls! – L’Obrador dels Somnis (games)

Catalexi – Sergi Sirvent (music)

Cruïlla – Slidemedia (audio-visual)

Baró pels arbres – Taaroa Teatre i Bufa & Sons (theatre)

Barandales – Tutatis (music)

State premieres

Aka Balkan Moon (music)

Castanha é Vinovèl (music)

Temple – Cia Sònia Sánchez & Jordi Molina (dance)

Roller Disco Infantil: Patinem la Mediterrània! – Colectivo Cautivo (games)

Mañana es Mañana – CridaCompany (circus)

Lou Dàvi & Pythéas (music)

Mor Karbasi (music)

Artemis – Moussu T e lei Jovents (music)

Romanistambul – documental d’Ozgur Akgul (audio-visual)

Bann a Pye – Rara Woulib (music)

Ma bête noire – Thomas Chaussebourg (circus)

Premières in Catalonia

TAdeTAKO - Acto (games)

Manta - Héla Fattoumi (dance)

Free Folk (music)

Mare Nostrum – Jordi Savall & Hespérion XXI (music)

Gelajauziak – Kukai Dantza Konpainia (dance)

Los Rodríguez: una família en crisis – La Rueda Teatro Social (theatre)

Passagem – Projectos de Intervençao Artística (theatre)

Poufff – Lichtbende (theatre)

Talka Tum – Xarnege (music)

Fira Mediterrània co-productions

Taller de dansa amb el C.P. Lledoners - Álvaro de la Peña (dance)

Balla–Fira – Factoria Mascaró (family audience)

Imatgineria festiva de Manresa – Geganters de Manresa (family audience)

Grans èxits amb orquestra – Kiko Veneno & Cordes del món (music)

Anima’ls! – L’Obrador dels Somnis (family audience)

Vatua l’olla, quina patxoca que fan! – Paco Asensio (family audience)

Catalexi – Sergi Sirvent (music)

Cruïlla – SlideMedia (video-mapping)

Dallonses (music / poetry / couplet)

Música en terres de cruïlla – Agrupació musical senienca+ Carmen París / Pep Gimendo “Botifarra” / Quico El Cèlio, el Noi i el Mut de Ferreries / Claudio Gabriel Sanna / Pau ALabajos / Miquela Lladó / Montse Castellà / Pep Vila (music)

Fira’s artistic director David Ibáñez selected performances in collaboration with the Commission formed by Cesc Casadesús (Mercat de les Flors), Jordi Aspa and Bet Miralta (Escarlata Circus) and Eulàlia Ribera (festival El més petits de tots de Sabadell).