The Canary Islands Music Festival, a long-held aspiration in diverse sectors of the islands’ society, was a personal initiative of the then President of the Canary Islands, Jerónimo Saavedra, being organised for the first time in January 1985, declared ‘European Year of Music’ in commemoration of the tercentenary of Bach, Haendel and Scarlatti.
The three primary goals of the Festival are, first of all, to enrich the cultural programme of a region with a long tradition in music. This can be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century when European opera companies stopped over in the Canary Islands on their way to South America, making good use of their stay to offer the recitals and performances which helped create a significant musical tradition. It is worth bearing in mind that Las Palmas of Gran Canaria can boast the oldest private society in the whole of Spain founded to organise concerts. With over 150 years to its credit, the Philharmonic Society of Las Palmas can also claim Camille Saint-Saëns as one of its presidents.
The second goal is to heighten the international profile of the Canary Islands through something other than the cliché of sunshine and beaches for which the islands are so often known. This in turn brings us to the third goal, which is to attract more cultural tourism to the islands.
Today, as we are about to open the 28th edition of the festival, we can safely claim that we are wholly satisfied with the way it has fulfilled the above goals. Most satisfying of all is the third aim, because the new Auditorio de Tenerife has now doubled the available offer. This makes it easier for tour operators to promote the Canary Islands as a cultural destination.
The promise of perfect organization, the guaranteed public response and, of course, the pleasant climate (after all, it is the only festival in Europe held in winter), all goes to ensure that the Canary Islands Music Festival finds a place of honour in the diaries of all the musical greats.
Almost all the top names in the musical firmament have visited the festival. For example, we can mention conductors of the stature of Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Simon Rattle, Christina Thielemann, André Previn, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Riccardo Chailly, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, and those who are no longer with us, like Carlo Maria Giulini, Vaclav Neumann, Sergiu Celibidache and Sir Georg Solti.
Just as impressive is the list of soloists who have taken part at the festival, for instance we have Alfredo Kraus, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Mstislav Rostropovich, Krystian Zimerman, Ivo Pogorelich, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, Maria Joâo Pires, Vladmir Ashkenazy, Isaac Stern, Midori, Shlomo Mintz, YoYo Ma, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Radu Lupu, Henryk Szeryng, Cheryl Studer, Felicity Lott, Vladimir Spivakov, and many more whose names are too numerous to mention.
An important feature of the festival are the world premieres of works it commissions. In fact, this tradition was started in the 6th edition. Since then the following composers have composed or are composing works to be premiered at the Festival: Tomás Marco, Luis de Pablo, Juan J. Falcón, Cristóbal Halffter, Sofia Gubaidulina, Wolfgang Rihm, José Ramon Encinar, Enrique Macías, Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfredo Aracil, Arvo Pärt, Hans-Werner Henze, Joan Guinjoan, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Juan M. Marrero, Aribert Reimann, Emilio Coello, David del Puerto, Dori Díaz, Jose Mª Sánchez-Verdú, Pilar Jurado and Juan Manuel Ruiz among others. This list gives a good idea of the importance of the festival for contemporary musical composition.
We now invite the people of the Canary Islands and indeed music lovers from around the world to join with us in celebrating the twenty eighth anniversary of our festival, and to enjoy another outstanding musical programme.
Category: Spain festivals