The Fira Mediterrània de Manresa presents the musical and performing arts proposals for the 2020 edition
The selected artistic projects are notable for co-productions with entities and institutions, performances by emerging young talents, sustainable development and reflections on our “roots” and homeland from a modern-day perspective
The Fira is set to open and close the 23rd edition with an artistic transhumance led by musician Arnau Obiols, dancer Magí Serra and audiovisual creator Pepe Camps
With the clear objective of positioning the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa as a strategic “roots” market, the artistic proposals of the 23rd edition reinforce the contemplation of our “roots” from a modern-day perspective. As he did last year in his debut as artistic director, Jordi Fosas has put together a schedule that is structured around three main concepts: perspectives (contemporary artists who incorporate a reflection of their “roots” in their work), young talent (emerging artists who use their “roots” as a raw material) and the present (this year, focusing on our homeland and sustainable development). All in all, this edition doesn’t lose sight of the Fira’s work, with a comprehensive 360-degree reflection of our “roots” (covering cultural heritage and legacy, association work that connects it with modern-day society, and the professional sector). The contemplation of our “roots” will permeate the artistic schedule, professional activity and even the poster for the 23rd edition of the Fira, which is due to be held between 13 and 18 October 2020 in a hybrid format combining online and face-to-face activities.
The multi-disciplined Fira Mediterrània proposes three great schedules: one music schedule, with the Mediterranean scene of world and folk music; one performing arts schedule, where creations are based on intangible heritage and popular and traditional culture; and one popular culture and associationism schedule, highlighting its link with the professional arts sector, taking into account the intangible heritage of the Mediterranean. The 23rd Fira Mediterrània accompanies 42 artistic projects from the first two schedules—music and performing arts—which can be enjoyed online and/or in person, which we will describe below.
One project that encapsulates each of the elements described above is performed by musician Arnau Obiols and dancer Magí Serra. Of these two young talents, one has always focused on “roots”, whereas the other approaches the topic through contemporary dance. Accompanied by audiovisual creator Pepe Camps in Brots Transhumants, these artists will undertake an artistic transhumance to experience and reflect on how we view our surroundings, the earth and our homeland. The transhumance performance will begin on 13 October with a conversation with Martí Boada, Doctor of Environmental Sciences at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), marking the starting pistol for this year’s Fira. It will then end on 18 October with an audiovisual presentation of the results of this artistic experience, bringing the 23rd edition of the Fira to a close.
360-degree work: Co-productions and collaborations in the Fira’s obrador workshop
The Fira Mediterrània operates its own 360-degree workshop, which seeks to join forces, connect and weave synergies between the different sectors who are represented at the Fira, connecting “root” festivals and other facilities, festivals, fairs and cultural centres from around the country. The Fira is set to accompany twelve original productions, co-productions and collaborations this year.
This is the case of Acte de fe, in which Carlos Martorell, Marc Vilajuana and Adrià Grandia compare religious faith with the faith that we currently place in technology, where the performers are artistically accompanied by an artificially intelligent computer. Acte de fe is supported by the Fira Mediterrània, FiraTàrrega, Eufònic, Kovent and the Convent d’Alcover. Attendees can also attend the open rehearsal of the Kernel Dance Theatre, which also collaborates with the FiraTàrrega. Their piece, entitled Long, reflects on the relationship between tradition and the construction of identity based on two conceptual and movement axes: the Cane Dance and the Dragon.
In Vega, Paula Grande and Anna Ferrer will perform covers of traditional songs from the Girona region that are typically sung by women. This piece is supported by the Fira, the Festival Càntut and the Espai Marfà. Aina Alegre is also due to present her research study on the vibrations felt in one’s body during the Pastorets Dance that is performed at the Festa Major in Vilafranca del Penedès. Toni Jódar and Beatriu Daniel, meanwhile, are due to present the next instalment of the Explica Dansa trilogy of dance lectures with TRA TRA TRA. Tradició, conferència ballada via streaming, which focuses on the relationship and mutual influence between contemporary and traditional dance. This instalment is co-produced by the Fira, the Mercat de les Flors and the Ésdansa de la Preses festival.
In this year’s co-productions and collaborations group, we must also highlight the joint proposal between Factoria Mascaró and La Nova Euterpe, who have joined forces to highlight the inseparable binomials that represent music and dance; body and voice; and sound and movement, with this performance being the result of a collaboration between the Fira and the Festival Dansàneu. The Fira and the Festival Dansàneu also collaborated on Laia Santanach’s Tradere. After winning the Delfí Colomé Prize for supporting the creation and production of traditional dance with her piece Àer, Santanach continues to choreographically investigate tradition from a contemporary perspective. Attendees to the 2020 edition of the Fira can enjoy an open rehearsal of her new piece.
The Fira has also produced Marc Sempere Moya’s piece—in which L’Estruch de Sabadell also collaborated— which reflects on the boundary between the individual and the common with a ritual. El Niño de Elche (multi-disciplined ex-flamenco singer) and Eric Jiménez (former bassist in Los Planetas and Lagartija Nick) also participate in this project. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Festival de Llegendes de Catalunya, the Fira has co-produced the Pagans Dance Company’s piece entitled Paraules que trenquen ossos: an original piece which reflects on the validity of oral tradition and storytelling in the modern technological world. The Fira has also co-produced, alongside the Amb So de Cobla festival in Palamós, a proposal that combines circus acts with the sound of the cobla, featuring the Cobla Sant Jordi - Ciutat de Barcelona, musician Pep Pasqual and circus artists including Kerol, Amer i Àfrica, Daniball, Manel Roses and Kari Panska from the Ateneu Popular 9 Barris.
We aim to continue this incentive-based partnership in future editions. We are also pleased to announce that we will work on the piece entitled Ulls clucs for the 2021 edition, which seeks to discover our surroundings through “root” music and sounds. This proposal will feature Arnau Obiols as musical director, Sònia Gòmez as staging director and the Auditori de Barcelona as co-producer.
Live inauguration of the Fira
One of the Fira Mediterrània workshop projects is set to open this year’s live artistic schedule on Thursday 15 October 2020. This project shall be Za! & La Transmegacobla, which is the result of a ‘laboratory’ held at the Fira two years ago. This performance is due to reunite, on stage, the experimental music group Za!, the traditional cobla quartet MegaCobla and the trans-folk female two-piece Tarta Relena and shall be co-produced by the Fira and the Espai Marfà de Girona.
Performing arts projects shall reflect on their “roots”
Besides the co-productions explained above, the performing arts projects set to be performed at the 23rd edition of the Fira Mediterrània shall reflect on our “roots” from a contemporary perspective. These include proposals such as A puerta cerrada, which is a trilogy from the Basque dance company Kukai Dantza that is co-produced by the Museo Universidad de Navarra. The piece consists of two online pieces inspired by the coronavirus lockdown and the museum’s exhibitions, and a third piece entitled Gauekoak, presented live, which shall reflect on a whole journey focused on “roots” dance. Another piece is Lua, by Ancorae, in which the young performer Andrea Jiménez—winner of the Institut del Teatre’s 2019 Dance Prize—reconsiders the bases of flamenco. Y perdí mi centro, meanwhile, by LaboratoriA, is a call for gender equality, where the four members also experiment with flamenco as a common language. Lastly, Corpus, starring Xavier Bobés, explores the movement of a sculpture in relation to the human body.
In terms of international artists, the Fira’s performing arts schedule will include SunBengSitting by Austrian performer, dancer, musician and choreographer Simon Mayer. This experimental performance explores yodelling (a type of Alpine singing) in popular and contemporary dance, comprising a journey back in time and a pleasant and funny search for one’s identity. B, by Swiss group Trickster, is the second part of a trilogy dedicated to folk tales, this time focusing on the tale of Snow White.
In terms of family-friendly performing arts, La faula de l’esquirol by the Companyia de Comediants La Baldufa addresses traditional culture through fables and popular tales while reflecting on the concepts of diversity and co-existence. Campi qui pugui, meanwhile, is a street performance that tells the story of the Three Little Pigs, who are still searching for a house, and an elderly and highly endearing Big Bad Wolf. Another family-friendly street performance is El meu amic Brutus by La Companyia del Príncep Totilau, featuring music, actors and puppets at the service of a friendly brown bear and some mountain farmers. Ondina, by Les Anxovetes, is also aimed at younger audiences—particularly those who are willing to move their feet—seeking to bring the world of habanera dance to new audiences.
Continuing in the field of music, attendees can watch and listen to the performance by Asturian performer Rodrigo Cuevas, who is due to present his next album Manual de cortejo for the first time, produced by Raül Refree. We can also enjoy a live performance of accordionist Joan Garriga i el Mariatxi Galàctic’s new album El ball i el plany, which encapsulates “rúmbia” in its purest form. Other live sets are due to be performed by Alba Carmona, who is set to pay homage to popular songs and oral tradition in the first performance of her new album Canciones del folklore; Los Hermanos Cubero, winners of the MIN Prize for Best World Music album with their last CD, who are due to present Proyecto Toribio; pianist Marco Mezquida, who shall present his new project entitled Talismán alongside Aleix Tobias and Martín Meléndez, which is strongly influenced by traditional Iberian music; and Mallorcan artist Maria del Mar Bonet, who will present her new show entitled Saba de terrer. Homenatge al Pare Ginard, autor del Cançoner Popular de Mallorca for the first time. Also from the ‘Islands’, Roada are due to present their new album containing traditional songs; Manacor-born singer Joana Gomila will present her second album Paradís (following her debut Folk Souvenir), which sent waves through the world of traditional music; and female three-piece Marala, deriving from the Spanish Islands and the Valencian community respectively, will present a new album that draws from the present while nodding to ancient songs of their respective regions of origin, comprising a groundbreaking and illuminating piece.
Young two-piece Alexandrae, consisting of Marc Vilajuana and Elena Tarrats, are due to perform a set of ancient songs with a contemporary twist as they present their first album Gaudeamus omnes. Violinist Coloma Bertran will also present her first solo album, Nocturns i diamants, fantastically accompanied by artists such as Carles Belda, Sanjosex, Ju, Guillem Soler, Dia Sañe, Arnau Tordera and Gemma Humet. The Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials and Andorra Lírica, meanwhile, are set to join forces with Canço d’amor i de guerra, offering an early-19th century zarzuela influenced by rumba and other Mediterranean genres. Els Elements, fronted by accordionist Guida Sellarès, will play their original folk dance repertoire from their new album Radical Lliure. The Quartet Brossa are due to present their new album Folkestral, which adds a fun and ‘folk-y’ twist to the melodies of great composers. Young musician Roger Andorrà will also present his new album Empelt, produced by Llibert Fortuny, which blends the traditional sound of the gralla with electronic music in his latest “electrogralla” proposal. Las Karamba, consisting of seven women of contrasting backgrounds who set out to defend and raise awareness of the role of women, will play a set to the rhythm of sleep, cha-cha-cha, timba and rap, amongst other genres.
The COMPANYIA MINIMíssimA—winner of last year’s Mediterranean Sounds Contest—are also due to present their new album as part of the Fira’s musical schedule. Duot & Helena, meanwhile, a three-piece consisting of Albert Cirera, Ramon Prats and Helena Casas, are due to present Mondongo; an improvisation exercise consisting of five traditional songs that have been passed through the mincer.
In terms of international artists, the young Greek-Sudanese singer-songwriter Marina Satti—accompanied by the polyphonic group Fonés—will perform the songs from her new album entitled Yalla, which is an authentic call for freedom. The album is highly influenced by Greek, Balkan, Arabic and Middle Eastern sounds, assuming a modern, urban and groundbreaking vibe. Attendees can also enjoy the latest project by Occitan polyphonic and percussion group Cocanha, which has been produced by Raül Refree.
The image of the 23rd Fira also contemplates its “roots”
This year’s poster was created by the Manresa-based design studio Kocori. There are three different versions, one for each of the main areas of the Fira’s artistic schedule: “roots” and world music; performing arts; and popular culture and heritage. The creative concept of the image is the interaction between artists, audience and professionals, with juxtaposition of different “looks” that connect with the polyhedral perspectives of one’s “roots”.
On one poster, set on a green background, a musician holds a diatonic accordion (a highly popular instrument in traditional Catalan music groups) in one hand; with his other hand, at eye level, he holds a print-out, or a mirror, depicting the eyes of a laughing boy. In another poster, this time with a yellow background, a dancer holds her foot above her head, representing the performing arts; with her other hand, she holds a photo of the eyes of another girl, which are closed due to sheer surprise or excitement. The last poster, with a red background, features the Boc de La Mostra del Correfoc de Manresa—representing the Lord of Fire (highly present in many Mediterranean traditions and legends)—who is holding a lit torch in one hand; in the other, he holds a photo of a grimacing baby looking through a circle made between his thumb and index finger, bearing his teeth in pose that is both wild and funny in equal measure.
The Manresa-based design studio has created the posters for the next edition of the Fira, seeking to highlight the interaction between the different participants in the market: artists, accredited professionals and the audience, awakening a response and stirring emotions in all involved parties. While this reaction is most prominent in the audience, the artist also learns from and reacts to the audience’s feedback (using it to improve and adapt their creations), whereas the accredited professionals can take notes on performers who they could hired for future cultural schedules. To illustrate this interaction, Kokori has used the simile of exchanging “looks”; an idea that connects with the approach of the Fira’s artistic management, putting together a schedule of performances that use “roots” as a creative motor, as a result of contrasting “looks”.
The design studio
Graphic designer and photo-journalist Anna Brugués is the founder and creative designer of the Manresa-based design and photography studio Kocori. She is highly aware of what the Fira Mediterrània entails, having worked as official photographer in the 2018 edition and experiencing the ‘front line’ over the intense four-day event. Throughout her career, Brugués has collaborated with and worked alongside media companies such as El Periódico de Catalunya, www.surtdecasa.com, and others. She has also worked in the Manresa-based design studio AANDEM and advertising agency Barcelona Maripili Comunicació. As well as running the studio, she also delivers design classes at the Universitat de Vic and works as an associate professor in the Escola Superior de Disseny ESDi de Sabadell.
The design studio’s philosophy is that each project has its own history, and that this must be used to help promote it. For its 23rd edition, the Fira wanted to find an image that conveyed the spirit of its artistic schedule. The creative motor of the Manresa-based studio and the director’s first-hand experience of the event were decisive in assigning this important task.