International Music Festival of the Canary Islands

The International Music Festival of the Canary Islands is a classical music festival, held every year in January and February since 1985 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Some sixty concerts, eight great orchestras, outstanding conductors, soloists, chamber musicians and scores of all periods will make classical music sound in the Canary Islands from January 12 to February 11, 2023. The International Music Festival of the Canary Islands, as every winter for almost four decades, will reach all the islands in a 39th edition marked, above all, by the debut in the Festival of several ensembles and musicians.

History of this classical music festival

The International Music Festival of the Canary Islands, which was originally an old aspiration of several sectors of the island's society, held its first edition in January 1985 at the initiative of the then President of the Canary Islands, Jerónimo Saavedra. That year was declared "European Year of Music", in commemoration of the tercentenaries of Bach, Handel and Domenico Scarlatti.

The three founding objectives of this festival were, first of all, to enrich the cultural offerings of a region that enjoys a secular tradition in terms of music, since the nineteenth century, when European opera companies stopped in the Canary Islands on their way to South America, taking advantage of the stay to offer a series of performances that were creating an important musical heritage. In addition, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is home to the oldest private concert organization society in the country, the Sociedad Filarmónica de Las Palmas, which has been in existence for more than 150 years.

The second objective was to give international prestige to the name of the Canary Islands beyond the traditional cliché of "sun and beach", thus favoring the third goal, to promote the influx to the archipelago of cultural tourism of a higher level than usual.

Celebration of the International Music Festival of the Canary Islands

The guarantee of a perfect organization, the response of the public and the magnificent weather conditions of the islands, being the only festival in Europe to be held in winter, make the Canary Islands event occupy a preferential place in the agendas of all the greats of music.

Almost all the leading figures of the musical firmament have passed through this festival. Conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann, André Previn, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Riccardo Chailly, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, and the late Carlo Maria Giulini, Vaclav Neumann, Sergiu Celibidache and Sir Georg Solti.

The list of soloists who have participated in the festival is equally impressive. Always as an example we remember Alfredo Kraus, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Mstislav Rostropovich, Krystian Zimerman, Ivo Pogorelich, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, Maria Joâo Pires, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Isaac Stern, Midori Gotō, Shlomo Mintz, Yo Yo Ma, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Radu Lupu, Henryk Szeryng, Cheryl Studer, Felicity Lott, Vladimir Spivakov and a long list of others.

An important part of the program are the absolute premieres that are performed by direct order of the festival, a decision that was adopted from the VI edition. Since then composers such as: Tomás Marco, Luis de Pablo, Juan José Falcón Sanabria, Cristóbal Halffter, Sofiya Gubaidúlina, Wolfgang Rihm, José Ramón Encinar, Enrique Macías, Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfredo Aracil, Arvo Pärt, Hans Werner Henze, Joan Guinjoan, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Juan Manuel Marrero, Aribert Reimann, Emilio Coello, David del Puerto, Dori Díaz, José María Sánchez-Verdú, Pilar Jurado, Juan Manuel Ruiz, among others. This list is a faithful record of the importance of the festival for contemporary musical creation.

The Festival takes place during the months of January and February, mainly in the two capitals of the Archipelago, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in addition to a series of concerts in the non-capital islands.

The Canary Islands is a land with a thousand things to see, explore and get to know. If you are interested in learning more interesting facts about the Canary Islands, we leave you the link to the Culture and traditions section.

Paula Vera



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