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Tradition and Modernity Brush Together in Fira Mediterrània, Spearheaded by the 'Pregons' Initiative

From 15 to 18 October Manresa will host more than 100 companies and around 300 activities. Thirty-five official premieres and new co-productions herald Fira's drive to discover new talent, exploring the connection between performing arts and traditional regional art. PREGONS is the new and unique project launched this year with Màrius Serra, Xavier Albertí and Carme Ruscalleda, who will each give a special performance at Fira.
2015/07/14 20:02:00 Europe/Madrid

From 15 to 18 October Manresa will host more than 100 companies and around 300 activities.

Thirty-five official premieres and new co-productions herald Fira's drive to discover new talent, exploring the connection between performing arts and traditional regional art.

PREGONS is the new and unique project launched this year with Màrius Serra, Xavier Albertí and Carme Ruscalleda, who will each give a special performance at Fira.

Kulbik Dance and Cobla Sant Jordi open the event with a fusion of hip hop and cobla music, while 'La viola d’or,' a show that marks the 150-year anniversary of the birth of Enric Morera, closes Fira.

Roger Mas launches the official premiere of his new album on Friday night and the Flamenco guitarist ‘Tomatito’ debuts his latest project in Catalonia on Saturday night at the Teatre Kursaal.

With top names such as Asian Dub Foundation, Cheikh Lo and Ester Rada featured in the line-up, Fira delivers a premium programme with special focus on the female voice.

Fira upholds its commitment to cultural heritage revival, social participation and promoting Catalan artists abroad.

Tickets for paid-entry shows go on sale from 14 July.

From 15-18 October, the city of Manresa is destined once more to become the cultural nerve centre of the country, focusing its gaze on popular culture and world music. More than 100 companies and around 300 activities will fill the streets of the capital city of the Bages region. Fira strives to champion popular culture in constant transformation, festival heritage that brings the past within our vision, and art forms that explain the present while projecting the future – art that adapts and evolves in its multiple forms.

This year, Fira Mediterrània transforms its customary initiative of inviting a guest artist to spearhead the event into a high profile, performative adventure entitled 'Pregons'. Three artistic figures from Catalan social and cultural life, who represent the power and significance of popular culture, will be at the forefront of Fira.

The three pregoners -leaders of ceremonies- will offer unique and personal fifteen-minute performances based on their own points of view at different times throughout the event. The journalist and writer Màrius Serra will set the wheel in motion with: ‘Pregó poliglot sota el paraigua d’una única llengua,’ which can be seen on Thursday 15 October at the Teatre Kursaal prior to the opening show. On Saturday 17 October, the musician and stage director Xavier Albertí will perform ‘Pregó a dues bandes i una sola veu amb piano’ with Wanda Pitrowska, his long-term Polonaise orchestra director. And finally, the cook Carme Ruscalleda has prepared ‘Pregó de forquilla i tovalló’ which can be seen in Plaça Major in Manresa on Sunday 18 October. 

Opening and Closing Events

Fira Mediterrània opens and closes with two highly symbolic projects based on popular culture: the opening event explores the connection between traditional and urban culture while the closing event is based on heritage revival, championing it in the present and for the future. The opening event 'In Somni’, a hip hop and cobla fusion is a joint initiative by the urban dance company Kulbik and Cobla Sant Jordi, a project that was born out of a creation lab at last year's Fira. One year later, Fira Mediterrània welcomes the resulting project to the stage, a co-production with Mercat de les Flors de Barcelona that will also open Mercat’s performance season.

The first day of Fira will also feature a large-scale modernist circus spectacular by the Belgium company Le P’tit Bras, with 'L’Odeur de la Sciure' in Plaça Major, as well as the final of the ‘Sons de la Mediterrània Competition’ at the Taverna Estrella Damm.

The closing event on Sunday 18 October at Teatre Kursaal features the stunning, lyrical 'La viola d'or'. It is a special production to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Enric Morera, consisting of an ambitious revival of the first Catalan sarsuela, written for cobla and voice, performed by Cobla Marinada de Badalona, ArsInNova choir and the dance company Factoria Mascaró. Stage direction is overseen by Jordi Prat i Coll and artistic guidance by Xavier Albertí.

Teatre Kursaal: Roger Mas and Tomatito

As well as staging the opening and closing events, Teatre Kursaal will host a selection of Fira's auditorium-based and paid-entry shows, as it does every year. In particular, the venue will stage two of the most outstanding concerts this year by Roger Mas and Tomatito. The singer-songwriter from Solsona, Roger Mas, delivers the official premiere of his new album, 'Irredempt', with the artist singing and playing guitar unaccompanied, and with staging by Lluís Danès. Saturday night sees Tomatito, currently the most acclaimed and influential Flamenco guitarist worldwide since the demise of Paco de Lucía, take the limelight.

World Musicians: major international names, great female voices

For another year running, Fira demonstrates why it is considered to be one of the most strategic events in southern Europe for world music. The programme brings together a score of initiatives that advocate leading values, new trends and emerging ideas. The line-up features concerts by top international artists, including the seasoned British band Asian Dub Foundation Sound System with its repertoire of jungle, dub, rock, and hip hop blended with traditional Indian sounds; the Senegalese artist Cheikh Lo with the nationwide launch of his album 'Babalou'; and the quartet DakhaBrakha with a mix of traditional melodies and theatre from Eastern Europe. Fira Mediterrània also reveals one of the best kept secrets of Spanish folk from a much closer-to-home destination - the hurdy-gurdy player Germán Díaz (Castile and León); and Meneo, the based Madrid-based Guatemalan DJ, considered to be the king of low-fi Latin music created with Gameboy.

The line-up this year gives special focus to the female voice, with the spectacular soul diva Ester Rada from Israel-Ethiopia; Kamylia Jubran from Palestine, also an oud player; and the much awaited on-stage encounter between the young Moroccan Nabyla Maan and the Aragonese singer Carmen París. The Argentine artist La Yegros will also bring her new and ground-breaking cumbia to the Taverna venue.

The Beat of Catalan-Speaking Countries

Fira also welcomes an extensive selection of Catalan-speaking groups to the stage, set to showcase the creative spectrum of the Catalan music industry. Artists include the Valencian-born, Catalan-based Carles Dènia with his latest album; Oques Grasses, a stand-out fusion band; and the Catalan ragamuffin DJ, Sr. Wilson.

For some time now, promoting new and singular productions has been a dominant focus of Fira. This year two of the most emblematic accordion players in Catalonia, Carles Belda and Joan Garriga, deliver a concert with cava tasting; 'Ovidi Popular, 20 anys!' will mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of Ovidi Montllor, with vocals by Miquel Gil, Jordi Fàbregas, Pep Jimeno 'El Botifarra', Toni Torregrossa and Celdoni Fonoll. At the same time, the band Germà Negre brings a production to stage with Cobla Selvatana and Esbart Fontcoberta. The latest project by The New Catalan Ensemble -Newcat- can also be heard, in addition to the recent work by the singer-songwriter Clara Andrés.

Performing Arts

The fusion between contemporary performing arts and traditional, regional culture continues to be one of Fira's leitmotifs. This year's programme features daring dance initiatives based on a mix of disciplines, such as El Niño de Elche and María Muñoz, who perform a world premiere of 'Siete Lunas' and the latest project by Astrio, Sonia Gómez, Pau Puig and Pere Gumbau 'A vore!'. Fira also hosts a creation lab with two of the most talented musicians from the traditional scene, Magí Serra and Marçal Ramón. Each artist will deliver a work that is radically new yet old at the same time from their respective fields of expertise, dance and music. Two Basque artists also showcase a dance spectacular: Ertza, with 'El show del espectador' and Organik brings 'Txapeldún' to Catalonia, a work that explores the experiences of a Basque pilota champion.

Fira will also host an area of theatre and circus: Xavier Bobés delivers 'Cosas que se olvidan facilmente', an unconventional work for five spectators only at each showing, in a unique setting. The French artists Les Mobilettes, bring 'Café Frappé' to Fira, the award-winning show of the Umore Azoka de Leioa. And the Balearic Islands-based company, Circ Bover, performs ‘Vincles’, based on elements from the earth, such as bamboo canes, sand and rope.

Shows for the Whole Family: story as a cornerstone of Fira

This year most of the productions for family audiences feature story as their cornerstone. The theatre company Ponten Pie brings a children’s adaptation of 'Àrtica en un conte', based on the outstanding production 'Àrtica', to Fira. The Igualada-based theatre group Teatre de l’Aurora showcases ‘Comte Arnau’, boasting an engaging self-staged production, directed by Joan Arqué. At the same time, VAiVÉ & Brodas Bros deliver a new show that explores the connection between traditional music and hip hop.

Traditional Culture: Fira More Participatory than Ever

Fira delves into the social dimension of popular culture and boosts its line-up with a host of cultural performance groups that are continuously contributing to both festival heritage and a dynamic industry that is currently being championed across different scenes. From 2015, each year Fira will give special emphasis to an outstanding event of popular culture. This year, it is the Festa Major of Vilafranca. Thus the line-up features different dance performances of Vilafranca festival folklore, one of the festival’s major features: the Ball del Drac, the Ball de Pastores, the Ball de Gitanes and Els Capgrossos.

As well as Vilafranca, many different areas of Catalonia are represented at Fira. There are dance showcases -the Ball de Dames i Vells de Tarragona- with the renowned dancers Oriol Grau and Fermí Fernández, one of the country’s most irreverent displays of popular culture; the Gegants Bojos de Solsona; performances by the Castellers of Gràcia and the Tirallongues de Manesa; and a representation of Rondalla Puig-graciós from La Garriga. The Occitan group Les Bethmalais will also come to Manresa to perform dances that have been revived from the Bethmale and Coserans valleys in the Pyrenees. Folk dance groups also play an important role at Fira with performances by Esbart Ciutat Comtal and Esbart Sant Cugat, accompanied by the young flamenco singer Pere Martínez; Esbart Manresa in association with the Orfeó de Manresa; and the Ebro-based group Quico el Cèlio, el Noi i el Mut de Ferreries. The devil group Xàldiga, the organiser of the Correfoc de Manresa, also brings a great fire spectacular to the city.

Art and Social Transformation

Fira continues promoting projects that connect performing arts with social transformation, as a key factor of contemporary culture. One such projects is 'Five days to dance,' in which one hundred students from the IES Pius Font i Quer high school in Manresa dance for eight hours per day throughout five whole days. At the same time, the performer Ada Vilaró is to sit for 24 hours non-stop in the Plana de l'Om, interacting with the general public and different Catalan groups to promote the street as a place of connection. The Igualada-based company Farrés Brothers launches the debut of 'El Silenci d'Hamelin', a one-of-a-kind adaptation of the well-known children's fairy-tale 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin,' to expose children to sign language. Other related projects will be added to the programme over coming weeks.

Fira Mediterrània Professional Operations

Going beyond its artistic blueprint, Fira Mediterrània Manresa is a marketplace. The Fira Business Area is located in the Manresa Technical Museum, which will once again become a professional networking hub.

The professional conference, which takes place over a two-day period in the Fira Business Area, will this year address the potential of culture in social, heritage, urban, economic and community spheres. Industry professionals will be able to watch different artistic showcases, designed specifically to promote contact between event promoters and booking agents. At the same time, national and international meetings will take place in the Fira Business Area, which include the II Wine&Fest Forum, a world music and folk festival congress. Every year, Fira strives to promote the bookings of local artists abroad through speed dating, fast pace meetings between booking agents that have proved highly successful in previous years. This year, the initiative is made even bigger with the International Network Meeting, a point of connection for Catalan artists and international booking agents.

Internationalisation: Fira Mediterrània committed to a new Euro-regional project

Fira Mediterrània Manresa has designed a national and international plan of action for 2015, which seeks to broaden horizons, by opening up new areas of operations, and renew the main partnership agreements from previous years. Of particular interest is the Euro-Regional Heritage and Creation Forum project, approved by the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euro Region, in which four agents representing the Occitan, Catalan and Balearic cultures will work together to expand the common social, cultural and linguistic areas that connect these nationalities. Furthermore, the plan consolidates the main partnership agreements from previous years, with countries and regions that include Algeria, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, the Valencia region, the Balearic Islands, the Basque country, Aragon and Castile and León. By way of example, the partnership agreement initiated last year with the prestigious French Royaumont Foundation will see the Catalan guitarist Juan GómezChicuelo’ perform as part of the foundation’s concert season.

The Estrella DAMM Taverna, Epicentre of Fira

As of last year, Fira’s Taverna has been revamped and has changed location. The emblematic venue moved to a large scale marquee in the central Pati del Casino with the new name: Taverna Estrella Damm - Cuines del Món, and was transformed into one of Fira's main venues. This year Fira upholds its commitment to cuisine with the expansion of its new World Cuisine Market, located in the courtyard surrounding the Taverna. A rich assortment of cuisines from around the world is on offer, as well as there being a score of food trucks and a picnic area.