The “Fira Mediterrània – Factoría d’Arrel” took place November 8-11 of 2012 in the Catalan city of Manresa. As its program indicates, this is a market that presents new artistic creations inspired by the Catalan tradition or the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
Before discussing the event, I think it’s worth providing some information about where this city is located.
Manresa is 60 Km from Barcelona, nearly in the geographical center of the historic community of Catalonia (Spain), and very close to the Montserrat mountain, a mountain that special significance to the Catalan people. The Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat is located there. You can still find on exhibit at the monastery the famous “Llibre Vermell (Red Book), which contains a valuable collection of songs and liturgical chants from the Middle Age.
Once that sets the background, we’ll continue writing about this music market.
In this market there are four disciplines exhibited; music, theater, circus and dance, with a total of 100 presentations. The main objective of this trade fair is to be a great showcase and a point of encounter for presenters and artists, to facilitate the booking of these showcases for the entire world.
The majority of the shows [programmed come from the various Catalan-speaking or Catalan dialect territories, although there are also acts that come from other parts of the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italia, Israel, Andalusia (Spain), Turkey, Corsica, Egypt, Occitania and Sardinia, or even from places that are in the Mediterranean such as the Basque Country, Poland, Belgium and Iraq.
This new edition introduced a new artistic director, David Ibáñez, a performing arts manager with a long career and well known in Catalonia for his artistic and music presenting activity in Girona. With his arrival, the Fira went back to an open and dynamic character, taking good care of its guests, specially the arts presenters and journalists, from Spain and abroad.
The Fira took place at the Museo de la Tecnica de Manresa (Manresa Technical Museum), a remodeled building from 1861 that used to house the water tanks from the city and its industry. It now serves a textile museum. In this space you could find side by side the booths, conferences, seminars, presentations, media center and registration.
The events took place in various parts of the city including the Kursaal Theater, the El Sielu club, the La Seu cathedral, and the Taverna tent, among others.
Of all the concerts that I attended, three stood out. The first was a Catalan/Valencian Medieval music project called Evo, led by Valencian multi-instrumentalist Efrén López, flutist Miriam Encinas Laffitte from Girona, Laia Puig Olives on woodwinds, and the surprising Valencian vocalist Iván López Sanz. This performance took place in a beautiful corner of the Manresa cathedral, which favored the atmosphere and good sound to enjoy the show. Evo’s performance was brilliant, playing their instruments with elegance and virtuosity, fitting everything in a living and current aesthetic.
In second place, the Girona-based band Els Berros De La Cort, presented its latest show called “Los Nostres Vices e Pecats” at the “El Sielu” club. Its concert was spectacular and effective, with a compelling sound of percussion, wind instruments, such as the tarota (folk oboe), dulzainas (double reed instruments), bagpipes and hurdy gurdies. International delegates were surprised and enthusiastic about the concert.
In third place, Valencian vocalist Mara Aranda with her group Solatge. She delighted us with pieces from her new album “Lo Testament”.
Other interesting performances included Gypsy singer Antonio “Sicus” Carbonell from Barcelona’s Gracia district, the show by the Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials together with the Esbart Joaquim Ruyra from Blanes, Aragonese band Maut, Castilian group Fetén Fetén, Madrid-based Zoobazar, local act Àniam, Corsican polyphony group Tempvs Fvgit, singer-songwriter Xavi Múrcia from Sabadell, and female a capella quartet De Calaix from the Ampurdan region.
Other well-known artists performed at the Fira, such as Israeli Singer Noa and Polish band Kroke.
My personal assessment of the Fira Mediterrània – Factoría d’Arrel, is that this new edition has gained good momentum and, taking into account the current times of crisis in the music sector, the Fira must maintain this level and, specially, expand the basic international routes, with more programmers as well as mass media professionals.