Brief History of the International Music and Dance Festival
For over half a century, Granada’s International Music and Dance Festival has brought together some of the world’s most astounding musicians and dancers for a culture-packed event which sees the city burst into life with theater, dancing and music.
The popular festival’s roots lie in the orchestra concerts which have been held in the Palace of Charles V since the 1880s. These concerts first took place during the Corpus Christi celebrations and gave local residents their very first opportunity to enjoy live music performances from some of the most famous European orchestras of the time. The 1922 Cante Jondo Competition which was organized by intellectuals and artists such as García Lorca, Falla and Andrés Segovia also played a major role in the origins of the festival.
The festival as we know it today was first held in 1952 under the title “First Festival of Spanish Music and Dance”. This was followed up with the second edition of the festival, for which the name was changed to “The II International Festival of Music and Dance” which has stuck to this day. The 1953 concert saw the opening of the magnificent theater located in the Generalife Gardens which was built specially to accommodate the festival’s dance performances.
Granada’s International Music and Dance Festival is one of the most well-known and culturally-rich events held in the city. It takes place each year between June and July. This year it will be held from June 20 to July 11, 2014 in various locations throughout the area. The Alhambra is probably the most spectacular venue for the festival’s events, but there are many other beautiful performance locations, too, including Arab courtyards, the Albaycín quarter and the previously mentioned Generalife Gardens.
Whatever aspect of the performing arts you’re interested in, there’s sure to be something here which appeals to you. Whether you’re left breathless by the beauty of the architecture of the theater buildings, awe-struck by the seemingly impossibly graceful movements of the ballet dancers or totally inspired by the incredible voices of the choir singers – there’s something for all tastes at Granada’s International Music and Dance Festival.
In addition to the professional performers which are internationally-renowned, the festival also invites young up-and-coming artists to take to the stage for the chance to show off their talents and get their names known.
During the International Music and Dance Festival, Granada is transformed into the cultural capital of the world with an outstanding line-up of theatrical performances, symphony orchestras, dance troupes and flamenco acts. Whilst all the shows are something special in their own right, here is a small selection of the best that the festival has to offer:
Ballet Performances at the Generalife Theatre
Many of the ballet performances throughout the festival are scheduled to take place at the Generalife Theatre inside the Generalife Gardens. This open-air theater provides the ideal location to sit back and admire some of the most skilled ballet performers in the world, with the star-speckled night sky twinkling above you.
This year, the Asami Maki Ballet Tokyo is set to perform the classic Sleeping Beauty, known for its challenging solos which require a high amount of technical skill. The prestigious dance company is also scheduled to perform the Lady of the Camelias, which will be seen at the festival for the very first time in 2014.
The Ballet Nacional de España will take to the stage during the festival to execute Sorolla. This performance is inspired by the painter’s “Visión de España” and provides the audience with a journey through the country’s most prominent regions to witness their representative folk dances.
Children’s Performances at the Alhambra Theatre
The Alhambra Theatre has had more than its fair share of ups and downs in the past. It’s gone through several flourishing periods since it was inaugurated and various deteriorative periods when it was almost left to ruin. Thankfully, the Alhambra Theatre was beautifully restored at the end of 2007 and has since been known for its contemporary performances which are aimed at little ones.
Etcétera will be performing the same act three times during this year’s International Music and Dance Festival – El Sastrecillo Valiente, which loosely translates into “the Brave Little Tailor”. Premiered at the Teatro Real in December 2013, this performance is made up of eight instrumentalists and one narrator who together tells an epic, amusing and tender tale which adults and children alike will love.
Symphony Orchestra Performances at the Palace of Charles V
The charismatic Palace of Charles V is an open-air circular-shaped courtyard which bears a fair resemblance to the coliseum. But instead of lions and gladiators taking center stage, the Palace of Charles V will play host to international symphony orchestras. Whilst the solid stone of the structure creates an impressive backdrop, the open-air quality of the palace allows audiences to keep cool and enjoy the mild summer evenings in Granada.
Two symphony orchestras will take place during the 2014 International Music and Dance Festival. The first will be performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Frühbeck who won the festival’s Medal of Honor in 2001. This display will surely be a one to remember, with extremes of Romanticism and sparkling solos by the Colombian soprano Juanita Lascarro.
The second will be performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Entitled “Egyptian Concerto”, this rarely-seen piece is the most well known of its kind, created by the Bohemian composer Camille Saint - Saëns in 1896. Javier Perianes – without a doubt one of the greatest pianists of his time – will be returning to the festival to perform.
Whether you’re visiting Spain as a family with young children, a couple looking for a culturally-rich event or an individual traveler in search of a new experience, the International Music and Dance Festival in Granada offers something for everyone to enjoy.