Fira Mediterrània exports Josep M. Ribelles and Guida Sellarès to Sweden

Fira Mediterrània exports Josep M. Ribelles and
Guida Sellarès to Sweden
The Catalan artists are taking part in a European LEADER project.
Fira is also signing other agreements to promote Catalan artists in Segovia, Ondara and Zaragoza

Fira Mediterrània de Manresa Foundation has signed a new European cooperation agreement for 2012 as collaborating partner with Sweden's Secret Festival. The project is part of a programme promoting Catalan traditional and folk artists, who will be travelling to the Scandinavian country over the summer months. This year, harpist Josep M. Ribelles and accordionist Guida Sellarés will be taking part, having been selected by the Swedish organisers from a group of Catalan artists. These performances are a platform for the Catalan culture industry and a launch pad for artists from this country wanting to break into the international market. Fira has also signed other agreements for promoting Catalan artists in Segovia (Folk Segovia Festival), Ondara (Festcarrer Festival) and Zaragoza (Off de Calle competition).

The two Catalan artists – the only musicians from the Spanish state – will be travelling to Scandinavia, specifically Sweden, to take part in the “Secret Festival” being held from 1 to 4 August. During the days leading up to the festival, nine musicians from five countries – Argentina, Ireland, Senegal and Catalonia – will be working intensively for four days to create a fifty-minute concert. Participants will be taking their own compositions and diverse styles so the group can experiment with new arrangements. The outcome of the experience will be four concerts in Sweden, in different locations of Öland Island.

John Leo Carter, Secret Festival Director, has expressed his satisfaction with the 2011 cooperation between Fira and the event he is in charge of. He also praised the quality of the work performed by the Catalan musicians who took part in last year's project - percussionist Lluís Molas plus gralla player and composer Enric Montsant. He is also very pleased with the reaction of audiences who attended the concert performed by musicians from the project at the last Fira Mediterrània, calling it "a great experience" for them. Carter is happy that Fira Mediterrània is taking part in the project again, giving him "the chance to meet new musicians and set up contacts for the future”. The joint work done in 2011 not only culminated in the concerts performed in Sweden and Manresa but also resulted in a CD recording featuring the Catalan musicians, who were listed as being “from Catalonia”.

The Secret Festival is organised by Yellowbox art and music creative centre, so called because of the shape and colour of the building it occupies. The project receives European Union funding under the 2009-2012 LEADER programme. Next month, Fira Mediterrània de Manresa will also be hosting a group of artists formed from the Swedish experience.

Participating artists

Josep M. Ribelles
Harpist Josep M. Ribelles (Barcelona 1967) is regarded as one of the creators of new folk music in Catalonia. He has been researching and studying the harp and its historical background in Catalonia since the mid-1980s. He has worked with line-ups such as L’Ham de foc, Solatge, Eduardo Paniagua, Maria Laffitte, Kepa Junkera, Túrnez and Sesé. His album Ondines ballen (Lubicán 2012) was acclaimed by specialist critics as one of the most original and decisive discs of Catalan folk music. Ribelles performed at Fira Mediterrània de Manresa last year.

Guida Sellarès
This young musician has played the diatonic accordion in music projects by Arbre de Cabra, Germans Rebaixinc, Marta Rius and new female bel canto artists, Jaume Sala, Carolino, La Llimoneta, La Lloca and in Acordió a la Carta (an solo folk fdance project). She is currently involved with the Oca Rosa association in Vic, where she works on cultivating the close relationship between music and public square folk dancing, as well as between musicians and dancers.

Other actions promoting Catalan artists

Fira Mediterrània de Manresa also has its own programme promoting Catalan artists beyond the Pyrenees. This year, three further initiatives are underway in Aragon, Castile and Valencia.

Fira Mediterrània took Sol i Serena to the 29th Folk Segovia festival

The 29th Folk Segovia festival was held from 22 June to 1 July. This year, the festival programme included a performance by the group Sol i Serena, thanks to support provided by the Catalan government and Fira Mediterrània de Manresa. The group performed their show on 29 June at the Juan Bravo Theatre in Segovia. This year’s Folk Segovia coincided with the 33rd European Broadcasting Union festival, organised jointly with Spain’s Radio Nacional station and attracting artists and music journalists from sixteen countries to Segovia. All the concerts were recorded live and will be broadcast in due course.

Sol i Serena's traditional and folk music repertoire has a fresh, modern feel that attempts to move away from simple folk entertainment and generate new branches on the poorly nourished tree of folk tradition. In 2003 they released their own first CD, a demo disc entitled “Disc de Butxaca”, which they presented at the Sona9 competition and succeeded in getting through to the final. The group line-up is Marta Rius, Guillem Ballaz, Lídia Domingo, Jordi Comas “Peligru”, Francesc Tomàs “Panxito” and Jordi Barbet “Kami”.

Winners of the Sons 2011 competition perform at the Festcarrer festival in Ondara

A short while later, on 30 June, the group Riu closed the second Folk Music Week in Ondara, known as Festcarrer (Valencia). Els Riu won the last Sons de la Mediterrània competition, organised jointly by Enderrock publishing group, Tradicionàrius de Gràcia crafts centre and Fira Mediterrània de Manresa. The performance at Festcarrer in Ondara was part of their prize, and so is their appearance at this year’s Fira. Els Riu are a group from the Baix Llobregat region who combine a Catalan folk repertoire with Celtic musical structures.

Fira collaborates with the Off de Calle competition in Zaragoza

Fira Mediterrània de Manresa is cooperating with the 9th Off de Calle competition organised by Zaragoza City Council as part of the famous Pilar festivities in the capital of Aragon. It is one of the most prestigious street arts events in the Spanish state. The Off de Calle competition is aimed at solo artists and at dance, street music, theatre, clown or circus companies who use open spaces as settings for artistic expression. Registration for the event is open until 31 August.

Fira is a member of the judging panel watching the twelve competition finalists perform in Zaragoza on 9, 10 and 11 October. One of the competition winners will be featured on the 2013 Fira Mediterrània programme. This year’s Fira programme includes a performance by a winning entrant from last year’s Off de Calle, the Tobarich circus company, whose work focuses on traditional acrobatics. Their performance at Fira Mediterrània is one of the competition prizes. The other three prizes consist of performing at the 2013 Umore Azoka fair in Leioa (the Basque Country), the area’s biggest fair; at the 2013 San Mateo festival in Logroño (La Rioja); and at the Molina de Segura International Theatre Festival (Murcia).

article submitted by:Jordi Urpí, Fira Mediterrània de Manresa (Catalonia / Spain)