The Festival de Música y Danza ‘Ciudad de Úbeda’ has a peculiar profile as it results from a close collaboration between the public administration, represented by Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Úbeda (Council of Úbeda) and the Asociación Cultural ‘Amigos de la Música’ of Úbeda.
This Asociación Cultural ‘Amigos de la Música’ not only manages and organises Festival but also the production of all events taking place. The managing board of ‘Amigos de la Música’ does all this voluntarily and no payment is received for these activities.
The Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Úbeda promotes the Festival takes care of the administrative and legal aspects. It therefore bids for funds awarded by other government organisations, searches for private funds and decides on the final budget.
There is also an Executive Board representing the Excma. Diputación Provincial de Jaén, the Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía and other members from the Ayuntamiento of Úbeda and the Asociación ‘Amigos de la Música’.
The first objective ob this Executive Board is to decide on the final program and budget for every edition of the Festival. Ti also has to approve the annual memoir that is written at the end of every Festival.
In any case, this close collaboration between Public Administration and the private Asociación Cultural ‘Amigos de la Música’ shows a peculiar way of organising the Asociación activities, as their joint effort translates itself into great economic savings.
ASOCIACIÓN CULTURAL “AMIGOS DE LA MÚSICA”
In 1982, a group of music lovers of Úbeda close to de local Band founded the Asociación Cultural “Amigos de la Música”. There were people of different professions and social conditions which common objective was the promotion of the classical music in the town.
Al the beginning there were about a hundred of members and the activities were of local atmosphere. The concerts were held by local musicians as soloists, chamber groups, choirs and the Music Band of the town.
Members and activities were growing up: a season of music started, and from the Spring of 1989 the Festival de Música y Danza, all organised and directed by Amigos de la Música, always supervised for the local Council
There were organized journeys to festivals in Granada, Edinburgh, Salzburg…
‘Amigos de la Música’ has been recognized with prices to popularity like Jiennenses of the Year (Diario JAÉN) and Ideal of the Year (Diario IDEAL de Granada), and also the Price of Úbeda’s House in Madrid.
Nowaday, there are more than 700 hundred of members, no only from Úbeda, but from others places of the Andalusian Region.
We have our seat in the Palacio de Congresos del Hospital de Santiago which is the principal place of the Festival.
The management team carry out the organization of the Festival and others musical activities in the town, always with altruistic character.
The Festival de Música y Danza ‘Ciudad de Úbeda’ has the following available performing spaces.
AUDITORIUM OF HOSPITAL DE SANTIAGO
The most important space is the auditorium of the Hospital de Santiago as all symphonic concerts, piano and belcanto cycles are celebrated there. The auditorium is situated in the old chapel of a magnificent building erected as a hospital in the sixteenth century. The chapel holds 600 spectators, and its acoustic conditions are excellent for orchestras and groups such as The Sixteen, The King´s Consort, La Petite Bande, and Orquesta Siglo XVIII. Some of these groups and orchestras have recorded in the auditorium and Radio Televisión Española has made recordings on several occasions.
The Festival also makes use of the Hospital central patio, built with a double arcade in the most pure Renaissance style and with capacity for 1,000 people.
The Hospital de Santiago, one of the most important buildings of the Spanish Renaissance, was designed by the architect Andrés de Vandelvira. Its construction was ordered by the bishop Don Diego de los Cobos, nephew of Don Francisco de los Cobos then Charles V´s Secretary. Built between 1562 and 1575, it served as a hospital until 1975. After a few reforms, the Hospital became a cultural centre for conferences, exhibitions, a library and an auditorium.
The Auditorium entrance is through the central patio and a wrought iron gate of great beauty. The nave is rectangular in shape and the chapel has a choir.
MUNICIPAL HISTORIC ARCHIVES
Another performing space is the Archivo Histórico Municipal, situate in the last floor of the Palacio Vázquez de Molina. The palace, another important example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, was also designed by Andrés de Vandelvira and is now the seat of the Ayuntamiento (local government).
The gallery that houses the Archives is decorated with a beautiful mudéjar ceiling and keeps the collection of historic documents kept in Úbeda since the sixteenth century. The gallery holds 300 people and its acoustics are excellent for chamber music. One of the last performances there was by the harpsichord placer Trevor Pinnock.
The local Museo Arqueológico is situated in a Mudéjar house, a beautiful example of domestic architecture of the sixteenth century. It has a patio surrounded by columns and four open galleries of singular beauty. It has capacity for 150 people and its ideal for guitar and chamber music concerts.
Flamenco, jazz and folk performances and other activities of the Festival Music Fair take place in different squares and corners of the town Duch as Plaza Vázquez de Molina, Plaza del Mercado (Old Market Square), Plaza Juan de Valencia, Puerta de Granada. These open spaces, in a town recently declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO), are ideal for these activities.
The Festival Internacional de Música y Danza ‘Ciudad de Úbeda’
Although classical dance and music are the priority, there are also jazz, flamenco and ethnic music concerts, as well as activities for a younger public. The Festival also holds a Feria de la Música (Music Fair) with concerts being celebrated in the different squares and enchanting corners of the old quarter.
There is no modern auditorium in Úbeda and thus, most concerts are held in the Chapel the Hospital de Santiago (600 seats). The Hospital, an imposing sixteenth century building, has been a cultural centre for the last thirty years and hosts temporary exhibitions, the municipal library and dance school, as well as the local teacher´s resource and training centre. Chamber music concerts are usually celebrated in the Local Historic Archives and Medieval and Renaissance town houses, whilst large scale concerts must be held at the local sports centre.
Several are the stages that mark the evolution of our Festival. In the beginning (1989) local musician friends performed alongside professional ones. Local choirs, bands, music associations and music teachers from the music schools, sprouting at that time all over the province, had their place together with figures like Pedro Lavirgen, the pianist Josep Colón, the Camerata of Bratislava and other foreign orchestras. We remember with emotion listening to Mozart´s Requiem sang by the Madrigal Choir of Bucharest, as well as Beethoven´s Concert for Violin with the soloist Cristina Anghelescu.
From its second edition, the annual price ‘Amigos de la Música’ was created to be awarded to individuals and groups working for the benefit of the musical cause. It was given for the first time to the music critic Antonio Fernández Cid and, in the following years, it was also received by the distinguished Joaquín Rodrigo and Paloma O’Shea, Radiotelevisión Española, orchestras like JONDE or the Orquesta Nacional de España, as well as the italians I Musici and stars such as Victoria de los Angeles, Monserrat Caballé, Alfredo Kraus, José Carreras and Yehudi Menuhin.
Every year the Festival remembers Andrés Segovia, born in the neighbouring city of Linares. Thus, we have seen performances by guitarrists from all over the world (Ernesto Bitteti, Hugo Heller, María Ester Guzmán, Francisco Cardoso, David Russel, Francisco Cuenca and Los Angeles Guitar Quartet).
A big step was taken with the fourth edition of the Festival (1992) with chamber music concerts given by I Musici and the Camerata Bariloche. There were also performances by Gurkova, Pinzolas, Angelov, Xu Zhong and Esteban Sánchez. It was that year that saw, with the Orquesta Nacional de Costa Rica, the augmenting of concerts by large orchestras. From then on, Televisión Española recorded and broadcasted some concerts, something that contributed to the promotion of both the town of Ubeda and its Festival. It was in those years that classical ballet (Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Ópera de Kiev, Ballet Nacional de Brno) and opera were also introduced. Excellent was Mozart´s Magic Flute performed by Ópera de Cámara of Varsovia who later returned to delight the public with Figaro´s Weddidng. For the first time other Spanish orchestras played in Ubeda: Orquesta Sinfónica de Málaga, Real Orquesta de Sevilla and Orquesta de Radiotelevisión Española, conducted by García Asensio.
The following Festivals received great opera soloists like Teresa Berganza, Monserrat Caballé, Ainoha Arteta, Renata Scotto, Alfredo Kraus and José Carreras. At the same time the Festival started introducing other kinds of music (jazz, folk, flamenco...) with excellent performances from Chick Corea, Paco de Lucía, Iturralde, Teté Montoliú, flamenco with Carmen Linares, Morente, Manolo Sanlúcar, José Mercé, and bagpipers such as Hevia and Carlos Nuñez. There was also ballet with Víctor Ullate, Compañía Nacional de Danza directed by Nacho Duato, Compañía Andaluza de Danza and the State Ballet of St Petersburg.
In 1997, we celebrated an important meeting of musicologists from all over Europe to discuss the ‘Rescueing and Difusion of Mediterranean Renaissance and Baroque Music’. During the conference we listened to music composed by Juan Manuel Puente, chapel master of Jaen cathedral, and promoted a book about his work.
The Festival continued bringing large orchestras such as Montecarlo Philarmonic and the Orchestra of Transilvania interpreting Tristan´s Prelude under the late Erich Bergel. Unforgetable was the presence of Orquesta Nacional de España with reknown conductors and soloists like Frübeck de Burgos, Galduf, Félix Ayo and Claret. There were also Andalusian orchestras with several performances from the ones from Granada and Cordoba. The latter brought an excellent programme under Cristóbal Halftter playing Daliniana and Piano Concert by Roberto Gerhard, whose modern aesthetic attracted the curiosity of a public little accustomed to it. Pianists like Pinzolas, Rosa Torres Pardo, Serghei Yerokhin, D. Baskirov, Leonel Morales and Paul Badura Skoda also continued in the line of the earlier years with small concerts.
From 1999, the Festival entered a more refined period with groups such as Biondi´s Europa Galante, Capilla Real, Venexiana and Colegium Vocale de Gante (conducted by Herreweghe). In the year 2000, the Festival paid special attention to Johann Sebastian Bach as it was the 250th anniversary of its death. We saw performances from The Sixteen, King´s Consort, Leonhardt, Jacques Lousiers and Emil Klein. There were also concerts with the symphonic orchestras from Odense, Lithuania and Zagreb as well as Orquesta de Radiotelevisión Española and Orquesta Nacional de España.
The later Festivals maintain the same high standards with many large orchestras and soloists specialising in Baroque music and Classicism. We have received in Úbeda groups such as Akademie für alte musik Berlin, Soloists of Covent Garden, La Petite Bande, Orchesta Siglo XVIII, Nethelands Choir, I Musici, Trevor Pinnock, Capella de la Pietá de Turchini and La Reverdie. Among the large orchestras we have seen performances by Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchesrta of Radio Televisión from Munich, Orchestra Clásica de Picardie, Orchesta of Frankfurt/Oder, BBC Philarmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Timisoara, Filarmónica de Dresdn and New Japan Philarmonic, together with Orquesta Nacional de España and Orfeón Donostiarra. There have been important directors such as John Nelson, Antonio, Florio, Marcello Viotti, Frans Brüggen, D. Kitajenko, Kuijken, Rahbari, Penderezcki, Edmon Colomer, Heribert Beissel, Harris Chistorpher, Asensio, Pedro Halffter Caro and Max Bragado, and soloists like François-René Duchable and Elisabeth Leonskaja.
Piano has continued being important at the Festival with pianists like Eldar Nebolsin, Guillermo Gonzalez, Javier Perianes, Yung Wook Yoo,Anna Vinnitskaia, Boris Giltburg and Joaquín Achúcaro. At the same time there have been singers like Barbara Hendricks, María Bayo, Simon Estes and Ainoha Arteta, flamenco dancing with Sara Baras and Antonio Canales and their companies, ballet with Ballet Nacional de St Petersburg and Ballog of Praha, and `other musics’ with Pablo Milanés, Susanne Vega, Milladoiro, Los Sabandeños and some flamenco performers.
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