The 22nd Fira Mediterrània entails a contemplation of our roots that opens our eyes to the present
The aim is to position the Fira Mediterrània as the strategic “roots” market
Contemplations, young people and gender are the axes of the 2019 artistic schedule
Jordi Fosas, the new artistic director of the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa, wishes to promote a contemplation of our roots that opens our eyes to the present. This premise, which aims to establish the Fira as the strategic “roots” market through its discourse, will permeate the schedule of its 22nd edition, due to be held from 10 to 13 October.
For Jordi Fosas, the Fira Mediterrània must be positioned as the strategic fair for artistic proposals that utilise our roots, tradition and popular culture as a creative motor, and must achieve market articulation and generate discourse for these projects. For Fosas, the Fira Mediterrània has to shine a light on all aspects of our traditional roots, beginning with the base level of heritage and cultural legacy (traditions, customs, art, language, environment, landscape, etc). It shall also comprise popular culture associations, which strive to strike a connection between said heritage and wider society, as well as the professional sector, including the artists whose creations are based upon this tradition. The Fira Mediterrània will place a special emphasis on the exchange, interaction and intersection of heritage, popular culture associations and the professional sector.
This approach will be depicted through a schedule comprising artistic proposals that use traditional roots as a creative motor; roots which can be contemplated in a plethora of ways, opening our eyes to the present. For this reason, the 22nd Fira Mediterrània is based upon three main concepts: contemplation, young people and gender.
CONTEMPLATIONS OF OUR ROOTS
The schedule of the 22nd Fira Mediterrània will encompass various proposals from contemporary artists with vast portfolios of work, depicting their particular contemplation of popular and traditional culture. The opening event is a fine example of this, where the transgressive choreographer Sol Picó will embark on a journey to the very essence of Valencian popular culture.
This is also the case with Italian artist Alessandro Sciarroni, recently awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival 2019 for his career in the field of contemporary dance, with a transmissive performance aimed at saving the Polka Chinata, a magnificent traditional dance unique to Bologna, from becoming a thing of the past. The Ebro-based choreographer Roberto Olivan, alongside French DJ Laurent Delforge and Occitan voice quartet Vox Bigerri contemplate our roots from a contemporary perspective in Socarrel; the fruit of a creation lab held two years ago during the Fira. Another contemplation shall be that of Toni Jódar and Roger Bernat, made in a creation lab and co-produced by the Mercat de les Flors, which aims to explore other ways of explaining dance and to develop a new piece for Explicadansa [Explaining Dance] that addresses the themes of tradition and contemporaneity.
On a musical level, the saxophonist Llibert Fortuny, one of the most transgressive performers of the Spanish jazz music scene, will contemplate our roots through his own personal experiences using the sound of the Catalan cobla instrument alongside Electro Cobla Sound. Joan Díaz, musical director of Bestiari, the latest project by The New Catalan Ensemble (NewCat), will contemplate our roots through a huge concert reflecting her album-book which pays homage to the poet Josep Carner on the 50th anniversary of his death. This production will count on the participation of Carles Belda, Gemma Abrié, Joana Gomila, Marc Parrot and Gemma Humet, as well as special collaborations with actress Clara Segura and poet Josep Pedrals. Finally, rock group Obeses are due to perform alongside the Cobla Berga Jove and the Cor d’Obeses, playing each others’ traditional Catalan songs.
EMERGING YOUNG TALENTS WHO SHINE A LIGHT ON OUR ROOTS
The 2019 Fira schedule also finds space for the projects of emerging young artists who have focused their creative work on our traditional roots. These include the proposals of Arnau Obiols, with a personal and intimate musical project that transports listeners back to the ancient Pyrenees; the Criatures duo (gralla and diatonic button accordion), who are due to present their new album featuring the sounds of traditional instruments; and the winner of the latest edition of the Concurs Sons de la Mediterrània, Barcelona-born Clàudia Cabero.
Other emerging talents presenting their first musical projects include the Marala trio with their delicate piece Binaural. In this performance, the audience will use headsets to listen to a fantastic repertoire of traditional Catalan music created through the use of a 360-degree microphone. Another performance to look out for is that of Tarta Relena, a female duo who use a cappella singing with underlying electronic beats to explore the sounds of various musical styles in a traditional and eminently Mediterranean repertoire.
In the field of performance arts, guests are treated to a performance by Magí Serra, which reflects on the life cycle and pays homage to her late father, Joan Serra, in La mesura del detall; and the acrobat Júlia Farrero, who last year worked at the Fira and is now returning with her own show, inspired by the tradition of the Pyrenees fallas. The Fira’s schedule also includes a performance from the FABA (Festival Artístic del Barri Antic de Manresa) which seeks to recover the zarzuela L’home es feble, first performed in 1877 in the space currently occupied by L’Anónima. This piece aims to shine a light on gender roles and bring the discussion to the 21st century, through the help of young Manresa-born artists.
OUR POLITICAL ROOTS THAT OPEN OUR EYES TO THE PRESENT
Fosas wishes to highlight the creative roots that aren’t entirely detached from current realities, opening our eyes to modern day politics through popular and traditional culture. The Fira Mediterrània 2019 groups together, in a meaningful package, a series of artistic proposals that use our roots to open our eyes to and reflect on gender issues.
This section includes the multi award-winning dance piece La Oscilante, performed by Pol Jiménez and directed and choreographed by Juan Carlos Lérida, which explores the binary nature of Spanish dance to untangle the possibilities of genderless dance that eschews the typical female and male roles.
Laia Santanach, winner of the previous edition of the Delfí Colomé Prize for the best creation and production project using traditional dance with her piece Àer, uses the contrapàs – a dance originally performed only by men – to reflect on gender issues. Alessandro Sciarroni also reflects on this issue through his piece Polka Chinata, another dance which is only currently performed by men. Dancer Janet Novás and composer Mercedes Peón share their concerns in a dialogue that introduces issues such as identity and gender, amongst many others.
The Fira will also reflect on gender-related issues in the performance of its professional activity and during the established professional days.
MEDITERRANEAN WORLD MUSIC SCENE
The Fira also opens itself up to the rest of the Mediterranean. Some examples include Gaye Su Akyol, one of the most popular young singers in Turkey and the finest exponent of her country’s contemporary music; singer Maria Mazzota, one of the most iconic voices of the Italian Puglia, is due to present her new album in Manresa; and Rosario La Tremendita, nominated for the Best Flamenco Album in the 2018 Latin Grammys for the novel ways in which she constructs flamenco sounds through bass and electric guitar.
Also due to take to the Fira’s stages are the fast-paced Dzambo Agusevi Orchestra, a Balkan metal group from Macedonia who will present their new album in Manresa; the Occitan vocal group San Salvador, blending six voices and percussion instruments in a sound that stays true to their troubadour roots, bound to give an explosive and entertaining performance; and the Duo Brotto Milleret, comprising two virtuosos of traditional Occitan music, who are scheduled to perform on the Folk Dance Night.
NEW PROJECTS IN THE CATALAN “ROOTS” SCENE
Jordi Molina, famous in the field of traditional and popular music, and Joan Díaz, renowned for his Jazz music, are due to revisit some of Catalan tradition’s most recognisable melodies. Quico el Célio, el Noi and el Mut de Ferreries, from the Terres de l’Ebre, are due to present their new album Viatge a Buda, which comprises worker’s songs, ballads, shadow puppets, hand puppets, cinema and 3D creations. Valencian singer Miquel Gil is also scheduled to perform in Manresa with his new release Geometries, his first album in five years. Other musical dialogue due to be performed for the first time at the Fira includes projects by Toledo-based group Vigüela – comprising Valencian singers Josep Aparicio “Apa” and Eduard Navarro: artists who are dedicated to the dissemination and interpretation of traditional culture.
Also heralding from the Catalan Countries are Valencian singer Feliu Ventura, due to present his latest album which marks a return to his singer-songwriter roots; Ruso Sala, due to perform a series of fresh and elegant new songs as part of a three-piece; singer Heura Gaya, who will perform the songs from her latest project; and Eduard Iniesta presenting his project entitled White Hall. With one foot in the Basque Country and the other in Galicia, the Gaizca Project comprises Catalan gralla player and tenor Manu Sabaté, Basque trikilitari and txalapartari Iñaki Plaza and Belgian female quartet with Galician origins, Ialma. Visitors to the showcases held at the Llotja Professional during last year’s Fira will have already seen the embryonic version of this collaboration project.
Some of the more energetic concerts include that of Biflats, a fast-paced brass band synonymous with the sound of the cobla, due to close the Fira Mediterrània 2019; Saturday night’s concert held at Stroika featuring Maresme-based band Ebri Night and the Valencian band La Fúmiga, and the new show of Girona-based band Els Berros de la Cort, who remain forever loyal to their medieval sounds. The Balearic group Ballugall and Catalan three-piece Flowk (comprising Marc del Pino, Ciscu Cardona and Xavi Castanys) are two of the groups due to play in the traditional Folk Dance Night, which shall take place on Saturday evening in the Taverna Cervesa Guineu. The Banyoles-based Germà Negre are due to close this event on Saturday night, with their new show exploding with the spirit of a festa major.
In terms of performing arts, the Fira will host the latest performance of Balearic-based group Produccions de Ferro, Rostoll Cremat, written by playwright Toni Gomila and directed by Oriol Broggi, using a popular story to depict the pros and cons of touristic Mallorca. Anna Confetti is due to premiere a project on the streets of Manresa which involves a giant chair; a show inspired by the endearing daily tradition of grandmothers in the Mediterranean who like nothing more than to go outside on a summer’s evening to watch the world go by. Flamenco dancer Gero Domínguez and musician Miguel Marín also seek inspiration in their roots, taking their interpretation of a number about a goat climbing a ladder to the streets of Manresa; an image closely linked to tradition, brought to the world of contemporary dance.
Another must-see is the performance of El Patio Teatro, from La Rioja, who are due to present their piece Conservando memoria: a small jewel of object theatre which aims to recover the memory of our roots. The circus company Mumusic Circus will also perform Flou Papagayo, winner of last year’s Premis Zirkólika best street performance prize.
Family-friendly options include Duet Daura, whose El bagul de la música tradicional aims to introduce children to traditional Pyrenees music and dance; the Peus de Porc games installation Teatres mecánics, with six miniature scenarios involving hand puppets; Zum-Zum Teatre, due to perform a Catalan version of the beautiful and moving adaptation of the piece first adapted six years ago by Basque company Teatro Paraíso of the popular tale Polzet; and another adaptation of the popular tale Patufet, due to be premiered by Teatre Nu at this year’s Fira.
As mentioned above, the Fira Mediterrània places special emphasis on the exchange, interaction and intersection of heritage, popular culture associations and the professional sector. As such, each year we focus on a particular sector of popular and associative culture and aim to create intersections with the professional sectors of performing arts and music.
In the 2019 edition, we will pair different artists with various musical bands, comprising one of the most active cultural expressions of the Mediterranean’s associative scene. In the inaugural show, thirty-five musicians from various amateur Valencian bands have worked intensely with the dancer and choreographer Sol Picó, forming the Banda Chapicó for the purpose of the performance; this piece has taken them out of their comfort zones and provided them with platform, which shall be performed alongside the company’s dancers.
A particular highlight of this category is the show by Galician jugglers Pistacatro, pioneers in Spain when it comes to interacting with an accompanying band: in this case, they collaborate with Manresa-based band Unió Musical del Bages in the show entitled Orquesta de malabares. We also recommend stopping to watch the performances of l’Esbart Sant Martí de Barcelona and La Lira Ampostina, who explore the sounds of band music in traditional dance. There will also be performances by the Banda de la Federació Catalana de Societats Musicals, due to perform alongside La Ginesta del Ginestar and the duo of Joan Farnós and Marc Sendra, heralding from the Terres de l’Ebre.
FOCUS ON SARDINIA
Within this contemplation of the Mediterranean lies this year’s “focus”: the section that the Fira dedicates to the intangible heritage of a geographical area. This year, the focus will be placed on the Italian region of Sardinia. The epicentre of this focus will be the Plaça Sant Domènec, which will also host one of the Mediterranean’s most iconic and interesting carnivals: the Carnevale di Ottana. It begins on 16 January, the evening leading into Saint Anthony’s day, during which the Sa Prima Essia takes place, marking the first release of the Boes and Merdules – characters wearing impressive anthropomorphic masks – due to be performed in Manresa by the Boes e merdules di Ottana & Sos Merdules bezzos de Otzana. Attendees will also be able to hear the Tenore Nunnale de Orune singing the Cantu a Tenore in Sardinian, proclaimed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. The traditional Sardinian dance, su ballu sardu, will be performed by Su Gologone di Oliena. It is danced to the rhythm of the accordion, with the cantu a tenore or a monodic voice, and is one of the richest and most interesting musical events on the Mediterranean coast. We will also play ‘morra’, which is a fast, hard and forceful game practised along the whole of the Mediterranean coast, due to “oppose” Sardinians and Catalans in Manresa: the l’Associazione sòciu po su giocu de sa murra and Morràpita.
AURELI CAPMANY AND THE CASTLES
The Fira Mediterrània 2019 will shine a light on the figure of Aureli Capmany. The Esbart Català de Dansaires will hold an illustrated conference on Capmany’s relationship with dance, with attendees also able to visit an exhibition about this folklorist figure at the Centre Cultural El Casino.
Popular culture and associationism come together in the traditional ‘castellers’ day, in which Manresa’s Tirallongues colla will compete against Vic’s Sagals d’Osona.
Tickets for the paid shows will be on sale from 6 p.m. on Monday 15 July at www.firamediterrania.cat.
The Fira Mediterrània is once again supported by Acció Cultural Espanyola (AC/E), through its Spanish Culture Internationalisation Visitors Programme. Through this programme, twenty international professionals will get a first hand look at the scheduled productions.