The 15th Fira Mediterrània of Manresa explores new folk culture

The 15th Fira Mediterrània of Manresa explores new folk culture

Isaki Lacuesta, National Film Culture Award winner, is presenting 4 projects at Fira based on handing over to the next generation

Acclaimed Flamenco dancer Andrés Marín’s new show Tuétano will open Fira on 8 November

Noa & Solis String Quartet, Brams, Niño Josele & Cobla Sant Jordi Ciutat de Barcelona, Brams and Gelabert Azzopardi Companyia de Dansa are just a few of the acts on the programme

Manresa, 22 October 2012. The search for new folk culture is the predominant theme of the programme devised by David Ibáñez, new artistic director of Fira Mediterrània, for the 15th event. Fira, due to be held in Manresa from 8 to 11 November, will be showing how the very latest contemporary creativity uses traditional roots as artistic material for establishing a powerful and enriching dialogue. In keeping with this theme, the event features Isaki Lacuesta, recent winner of the National Film Culture Award, as guest artist.

Alongside this, Ibáñez is also stressing the need to protect and defend Mediterranean cultural heritage. These two equally important points form the basis of artistic discourse at this year’s Fira.

Isaki Lacuesta, guest artist
Lacuesta will be playing a leading role in four artistic productions at Fira Mediterrània, including the closing show in Plaça Major, a blend of theatre and large-format audio-visual videomapping, with references and allusions to various celebrations such as the Dance of Death in Verges and the Misteriosa Llum in Manresa. Another is the video installation Traços/Traces, being shown in full for the first time in Catalonia and involving four large projection screens. The piece sets up a dialogue between a series of leading artists such as Tàpies, Miguel Poveda, Palau i Fabre and Ferran Adrià, plus many others. Together with Isa Campo, Lacuesta will be presenting the interactive video installation El retaule de les endevinacions, in which spectators have to press buttons to find out their fate, forces moving their present and obstacles from the past. Lacuesta is also joint artistic director with choreographer Cesc Gelabert for another production making its debut in Manresa, Tranç, a choreographic piece that travels through time connecting dancers from different generations. Lastly, and on the subject of these four artistic productions based on handing over to the next generation, the director will be chatting with artist, critic and curator Carles Guerra.

Programme themes
The future of folk culture
The programme devised by David Ibáñez for the 15th Fira places special emphasis on artistic projects focusing on the future, as can be seen from the choice of guest artist. Designed by contemporary creative artists using traditional material as a basis for their work, they define new 21st century folk culture. A clear example of this connection between roots and brand new contemporary work is the Fira opening show, Tuétano, by Flamenco dancer Andrés Marín, undoubtedly one of the most famous creators of modern Flamenco dance. Tuétano is being performed for the first time in Catalonia at Manresa’s Teatre Kursaal, after only two previous performances at Montpeller en danse and Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla. The show contains a striking combination of avant-garde and traditional flamenco elements and features two exceptional artists: dancer Concha Vargas and vocalist La Macanita. Flamenco is making a strong impression on the Fira schedule, especially since it was recently given the status of Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO.
Fira's aim this year is to emphasise the relationship between folk musicians and contemporary improvisation. The World Jazz cycle fits perfectly into this ethos and includes a number of performances such as the mesmerising live act by quintet Baraná, the Mediterranean folk sound of Mar Serra Grup and the show by French group Lafaille Cobla, combining cobla and electronic music.

Preserving heritage
One of the remits of Fira’s artistic director is heritage conservation. Under the title of NOSTRUM, Ibáñez is preparing a specific cycle of “extremely vulnerable musical pieces whose heritage value places them in need of protection”. One of them is the performance by Valencian traditional singer Xavier de Bétera. Others include the medieval repertoire of Catalan-Valencian quartet Evo, the Corsican polyphony of Tempvs Fvgit and the music performed by Yurdal Tokcan, one of the world’s most talented oud players.

Acorar, the successful Balearic theatre production by Toni Gomila, tackles the issue of the peoples’ collective identity against the background of the traditional pig slaughter day in Mallorca. This year the popular Vela Milcentenari venue will be hosting two themed nights dedicated to two of the most important scenes in our music market. Friday is rumba night with Remendaos, Achilifunk Sound System and Canteca de Macao, and on Saturday, folk dancing takes to the stage with Bruel, 21 Botons, El Pont d’Arcalís and La Carrau.

Multidisciplinarity and new artistic formats
This year’s Fira is giving a leading role to the crossover between the disciplines of dance, music, circus and theatre, plus a strong emphasis on the visual arts, given the guest artist's background. Other great acts to look forward to are Cobla Sant Jordi & Niño Josele with a special appearance by Sardinian trumpet-player Paolo Fresu. This is surely going to be one of the most amazing performances at this year’s Fira. Fresu is widely regarded as one of the top European jazz players and will be making his mark on a show led by flamenco guitarist Niño Josele. At Manresa, and in a world exclusive, they will be presenting a brand new repertoire soon to be turned into an eagerly-awaited joint album featuring the guitarist and the Cobla. Joan Català, Jordi Molina and Lali Ayguadé also work with grafting the genres of music, dance and circus in their show Encontre, an unknown space in which three people interact under the watchful gaze of a tenora. From Italy, Compagnia Nando e Maila will be staging Sconcerto d’amore, a concert show featuring aerial acrobatics, musical juggling, feats of sound and a large dose of comedy. Plus Mattatoio Sospeso, with their blend of vertical dance, humour, theatre and music.

Participation
With the aim of promoting Fira’s inclusive spirit, an intrinsic part of any traditional folk event, Ibáñez is also working to make sure that the programme includes arts projects especially designed as participatory events – like the closing ceremony – featuring artists and groups from the local community in and around Manresa. In Mapping fet a mà, for example, a group of 80 schoolchildren from Manresa have taken part by painting a set picture of a building and decorating it with elements from traditional Catalan iconography. The image will be projected onto one of the facades in Manresa’s main square, the Plaça Major. La Carrau has also wanted to share their 15th anniversary year by inviting local folk culture groups to their concerts. Other acts include performers from L'Espai A, a new amateur performing arts network that will be sending a company from each discipline to the Fira stages: Agrupació Musical Senienca (music ensembles), Esbart Manresà de Dansaires (traditional dance groups), Cor Sant Esteve (choirs) and Grup de teatre Quatre per Quatre (theatre).

Headlining acts
Israeli singer Noa, one of the great vocalists to come from the Mediterranean, will be performing in Manresa on Friday 9 November accompanied by the Solis String Quartet and with a brand new repertoire, a world exclusive. Also performing at the Kursaal, this time on Saturday 10 November, is Polish group Kroke, a real institution of Klezmer music, now in their twentieth year and setting up a cultural connection to Noa’s concert with their thrilling live act. One of the highlights of Sunday 10 November will be Brams & Banda de l’Escola Municipal de Música de Berga, presenting some of their most emblematic numbers with a new look.

Showcases marquee in the Llotja
As a way of promoting contact between arts projects and buyers, this year Fira will be adding another stage adjoining the Llotja-Business Area, which has now moved to a new base in Museu de la Tècnica. The stage will be featuring three performances a day running to a special timetable for programmers. The heart of Fira, the Llotja Professional-Business Area, has been restructured to incorporate new formats and working dynamics across six working spaces and four logistical areas. The classic Stands and Press Area have been joined this year by the Conference area, hosting the professional seminar, the Network Meetings area for meetings and presentations, the Speed Dating area, an exciting space for quick interviews between cultural agents, plus the Showcases marquee mentioned earlier.

article submitted by:David Ibañez, Fira Mediterrània de Manresa (Catalonia / Spain)