The 21st Fira Mediterrània explores the relationship between rituals and artistic creation
The Cathedral of Manresa, La Seu, is the nerve centre of this year’s event, hosting the opening concert with the Basque musicians Kukai Dantza and Sharon Fridman, who perform Erritu (Ritual)
Jordi Savall and Carlos Núñez, Eva Yerbabuena, Kepa Junkera, Ji Hue Chung, Juan Carlos Lérida, Bombino, Jim Black & Vox Bigerri, Chano Domínguez and Paolo Fresu are the headlining names at this year’s Fira Mediterrània
With five artist residency projects, more than ever before, Fira will connect tradition with other art forms: circus, dance, jazz and performance art
Fira Mediterrània will dedicate its Focus section this year to intangible heritage from the Balearic Islands
From 4 to 7 October, Fira Mediterrània Manresa will devote its 21st year to rituals. In particular, it will explore the relationship between traditional culture, spirituality and community, and how this relationship can inspire contemporary performing arts.
Cultures are the outcome of the legacy of our ancestors, making all cultures unique, with a common language and rituals that identify them. Whether it be an age-old rite or a new form of contemporary behaviour, collective rituals often stand out because of their visual power, specific codes of behaviour and community involvement, making them a powerful source of artistic inspiration. This year, Fira Mediterrània showcases a large selection of projects based on this idea. These include: the opening show, Erritu by Kukai Dantza on rites of passage; a collective performance by Ada Vilaró on cultural roots and uprooting; a project by the choreographer Eva Yerbabuena, which connects the tradition of Flamenco with Japanese culture; and research by the bailaor, flamenco dancer, Juan Carlos Lérida, who explores spirituality in a mechanic's workshop in Manresa; along with many other projects.
The image of the 21st Fira Mediterrània, produced once again by the Estudi Miquel Puig, reflects the idea of rituals with a design based on symbols of infinity connected to ritual. The poster has three versions: the first is a skull, connected to rites of passage; the second portrays festive rituals and the struggle between good and evil with a dancing devil; and the third depicts the silhouette of an imposing tree to reflect rituals based on a connection with nature. The posters have been designed using images based on the fabric of a “camall” covered in little bells, which is an item of clothing worn by festival dancers in Catalonia that covers their legs from the knee to the ankle and jingles as they move.
ARTISTIC LINE UP
Launch of the 21st Fira Mediterrània: opening event at Manresa Cathedral, La Seu, and preview concert at Món Sant Benet Heritage Centre
Fira Mediterrània will be officially launched on Thursday 4 October. In line with Fira’s leitmotif of ritual, this year’s opening show, by the Basque company Kukai Dantza and the renowned choreographer Sharon Fridman, is Erritu (Ritual), premiering in Catalonia at the nerve centre of Fira, the Cathedral of Manresa - La Seu. This is an ideal location in Manresa, the capital city of the Bages region, to explore the stages of life through individual rites of passage and group rituals. The choice of La Seu as a focal venue of this year’s event - the Cathedral will host five productions in the central nave, crypt, stairway and façade ascending from La Seu - is directly linked to the powerful symbolism of the Cathedral, the most historical, religious and iconic building of Manresa.
Prior to the official launch, the idea of ritual will have been explored at the Fira Mediterrània Preview Show, with PAS per la PAU (Steps for Peace) by the artist Ada Vilaró, who will cross the Bages region by foot, on a six-day pilgrimage in complete silence. Her aim is to convey a message of peace and hope to reflect on people who have been exiled, uprooted and forced to flee. Her journey will start at the Fira Preview Show on 30 September at the Món Sant Benet Heritage Complex, with a trail through different areas in San Benet de Bages Monastery. Vilaró will make the most of her journey to collect testimonials of peace, accompanied by other walkers and volunteers. On 5 October, she will reach La Seu of Manresa and take part in a ceremony along with other folk artists and traditional culture groups.
Rituals and Performance Art
Rituals are also a key motif in Cuentos de azucar (Tales of Sugar), a performance by the bailaora flamenco dancer and choreographer Eva Yerbabuena, recognised as the best female dancer at the last Max Awards. Her performance joins two seemingly opposing universes of flamenco and Japanese culture, with Anna Sato, a traditional Japanese singer from the Amami Islands. The group Societat Doctor Alonso, accustomed to exploring new limits in performing arts, seeks to connect traditional culture, symbolised by the tambourine, with spiritual culture, in this case with the poetry of San Juan de la Cruz, in their performance of Estudi per a pandereta (Study for a Tambourine).
Fira Mediterrània will also host two co-productions with Mercat de les Flors in the format of one-week artist residencies, also based on the theme of ritual. One of these artist residencies, entitled El moviment de les coses que prenen temps (The Movement of Things that Take Time), is by the Korean dancer Ji Hye Chung and a multidisciplinary group of artists, who reflect on freedom of expression based on force of tradition and group dance. Another artist residency by the dancer and choreographer Juan Carlos Lérida will take place at a mechanic’s workshop in Manresa. Entitled Máquinas Sagradas (Sacred Machines), it marks the beginning of his latest artistic adventure. During the first phase of his project, Lérida will devote himself to the world of trade and explore the everyday sounds and rhythms of the workshop. The trapeze artist Júlia Farrero will also take part in an artist residency at Fira, in which she will design Teia, a show inspired by the ancestral tradition of falles, which consists of carrying burning logs down a mountain at town celebrations in the Pyrenees.
The concept of ritual is also explored by the Valencian singer Carles Dénia, who brings a première to Catalonia - a tribute to the 15th century poet Ausiàs March, with an adaptation of the poem Cant espiritual (Spiritual Song).
Traditional Culture - a driver of contemporary performing arts
Fira Mediterrània will host more shows that reveal tradition and folk culture as powerful tools for creating contemporary performance art: circus performance comes to the stage with Animal Religion and Fang, based on the transformation of the human body and mud through acrobatics; Circ Pistolet, and their performance of Quan no tocàvem de peus a terra (When our Feet Weren’t on the Ground), with evocative music by Elèctrica Dharma, reflects on the importance of friendship; the fascinating universe of the Hispanic-French artist Yifan, replete with poetry and humour, is explored in Gritando sin hacer mucho ruido (Shouting Without Making Much Noise); the French performers of Cirque Rouages, who return to Manresa playing the part of two immigrants in the Mediterranean, invite audiences to accompany them on their odyssey; and Quixote is performed by the Hispanic-Argentinian artists Puja! Teatro Aéreo, which comes to the stage with a large-scale performance that takes its inspiration from the La Mancha legend, intermingled with theatre, dance, aerial acrobatics, live music and engineering.
Highlighted dance spectacles include: Sa mateixa (Herself), a project by the Menorcan singer Joana Gomila and the Barcelona based choreographer and dancer Lali Ayguadé, in an exploration of creativity and collective memory; and the winner of the last Delfí Colomé Awards, Pilar de dos (Pillar of Two), a playful contemporary dance inspired by the Catalan human towers tradition, performed by Clàudia Gómez and Raquel Viñuelas.
Fira Mediterrània will once again host its “Off” fringe section, devoted to theatre. All the productions originate from the Xarxa Alcover, a Catalan theatre network that connects the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Andorra, La Franja and the Valencian Community. The line up by the Xarxa Alcover at Fira Mediterrània this year includes: shows for family audiences with Kàtia, by Teatre Nu; En els núvols (In the Clouds), the first production by La Negra; and Carinyo (Darling), by the company Pérez-Disla; and a show for adults, La classe (The Class), by El Somni Produccions.
MUSIC AT THE 21ST FIRA MEDITERRÀNIA
Jordi Savall and Carlos Núñez: Fira Mediterrània’s Preview Concert
Besides the preview event headed by Ada Vilaró at the Món Sant Benet Heritage Complex on 30 September, this year Fira Mediterrània welcomes a premium performance, an aperitif for the festival’s main forthcoming events. A tribute to Celtic music from northern and southern Europe, the preview concert features the viola de gamba player Jordi Savall and the bagpipe player Carlos Núñez with Diàlegs celtes (Celtic Dialogues). The concert will take place on 1 October at 21.00 in the main auditorium of the Kursaal Theatre. It is organised by D’Arrel and Manresana d’Equipaments Escènics.
Jazz & Folk
The performance by Savall and Núñez is the first concert at Fira Mediterrània, this year. There are four more concerts, which reflect a customary area of initiative of Fira: the connection between contemporary improvisation and traditional music. First, Fira sees a joint project come to the stage, featuring the Andalusia based pianist and big name in Flamenco jazz Chano Domínguez and the outstanding pianist from Sardinia Paolo Fresu. Another ensemble to perform in concert at Fira are the Occitan, polyphonic men’s choir Vox Bigerri with the New York drummer Jim Black, a key figure in contemporary jazz. Together, they showcase the outcome of a two-year joint project, entitled Tiò. The talented violinist from Poland Janusz Prusinowski has invited the intrepid Catalan gralla player Manu Sabaté to join his band and explore sophisticated beats and sounds that straddle both Polish and Catalan culture. Finally, Megacobla by Za!, will also come to the stage, consisting of an experiment based on free interpretation, which aims to take Catalan folk music, cobla, to undiscovered territories. It goes without saying that there is nobody better for the task at hand then Za!, one of the most transgressive and out of the box bands on the Catalan scene.
International Scene and World Music
Concerts by world musicians in Fira Mediterrània’s line up this year promise to be outstanding They feature: Bombino, the world’s best Taureg (Berber) guitar musician, who comes to Catalonia with the première of his new album Deran; the Anglo-Palestinian band 47Soul, one of the most promising emerging groups of the Middle East, with a fusion of traditional music interspersed with electronic beats and fun hip hop and rock influences; Sirventés, with three great names from the Mediterranean scene - Manu Théron, Gregory Dargent and Youssef Sheish - and their modernised version of medieval Occitan poetry; and Kepa Junkera who presents his acclaimed show for the closing event of Fira Mediterrània, FOK, a tour de force of music in Catalan-speaking territories. World music at Fira will also feature: the co-production Galeusca, a melting pot of music from Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia; the Galician artist Uxía; and the Portuguese performer Torga. In the coming weeks, Fira Mediterrània will reveal the line up of Estepa Mediterrània, a fringe programme of Fira organised by Casa de la Música de Manresa.
A classic music event at Fira Mediterrània, Nit de Ball Folk (Night of Folk Dancing) will be held once more at the Fira Tavern in the Casino courtyard on Saturday evening. This year, the programme features: 21 BOuTONS and their repertoire of traditional dancing from Valona and Catalonia; a performance of traditional polyphony, folk dancing and percussion by the Occitan group Cocanha; and the town festival music ensemble with 19th century nuances Aires del Montseny.
New Developments on the Catalan Folk Scene
As usual, Fira Mediterrània will showcase the main new developments on the Catalan folk scene. The winners of this year’s Teresa Rebull Award, Arnau Tordera, lead singer of Obeses, and the tenor saxophonist Magí Canyelles, will première their project Les cançons seran sempre nostres (The songs Will Always Be Ours), which explores new horizons for traditional song. Of noteworthy mention are two premières, one of (d)ones (a play on the words “women” and “waves” in Catalan), a new project by Les Anxovetes, the best new band for its fresh and female take on havanera sea shanties, and the other of a performance by Jonatan Penalba, a young and emerging star of traditional Valencian singing.
Must-see concerts for family audiences at Fira Mediterrània this year are those that connect spectators with tradition, which include: Samfaina de colors, with their adaptation of the fairy tale La Caputxeta Vermella (Little Red Riding Hood), featuring songs about the months of the year; Somni del drac with L’Agència Secreta de Paraules (The Secret Agency of Words), which brings improvised singing in Catalan, known as “glossa”, to the ears of children; and the educational concert by the Spanish performers Fetén Fetén with El mágico planeta de los instrumentos insólitos (The Magical Planet of Unusual Instruments).
Tradition, Territory and Community
Fira Mediterrània continues to uphold its commitment to folk culture as the programme’s driving thread, which gives it great heritage value, as well as community work and the rooting of culture to a given territory. This year, Focus at Fira Mediterrània, a showcase dedicated to a particular region or municipality of rich heritage value in relation to its intangible heritage, pays tribute to the Balearic Islands. In collaboration with the Government of the Balearic Islands, Fira Mediterrània will fill the streets of Manresa with a live display of iconic traditions from the region.
Another Fira classic is the human tower event on Saturday afternoon, set, this year, to feature four human tower teams: the Tirallongues de Manresa, the host team; the Minyons de Terrassa, a top team in Catalonia; the Nyerros de la Plana, a team from Manlleu; and the Castellers de Santpedor, the most recently established team, formed in 2015.
Another noteworthy addition to the line up this year is the Armats de Manresa, the Easter procession group of Manresa, which will première their latest project, that will eventually become part of the standard Easter celebrations in Manresa. It consists of a procession that descends the stairway of La Seu, accompanied by music composed by Manel Camp and performed by the Unió Musical del Bages.
The showcase of traditional and folk culture at Fira Mediterrània is completed with: a gathering of mythical fire creatures, headed by the Manresa-based fire group Xàldiga; the Ball de Valencians de Tarragona, the origin of the human tower tradition and one of the most popular dances in Camp de Tarragona; a concert by the Cerdanyola del Vallès Music Association, as part of a collaboration agreement with the Catalan Federation of Music Associations; and the show Tornar a casa (Back home) by the Catalan Folk Dance Group Joaquim Ruyra, with a dance recital based on pagan and Christian rituals that will be performed at La Seu in Manresa.
All paid entry tickets for shows at Fira Mediterrània can be purchased on the website: www.firamediterrania.cat.
Presentation press meeting, at Cripta de la Seu de Manresa