THE SPIRIT OF EASTER
A new Easter edition of the Festival Perelada is coming from 28 to 30 March. Stradella's oratorio San Giovanni Battista featuring Dani Espasa and Xavier Sabata, Bach's version of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater featuring the Bachcelona Consort, the premier of Magrané's Tenebrae Responsoria , the Choir and Orchestra of the Òpera Real of Versailles and the Spanish début of the pianist Yunchan Lim are the shows that will delight audiences on the stage of Carme church during Easter week. The Castle Gardens will host the family-friendly event Cercant la Primavera (Searching for Spring) by the creative studio from the Ampurdan, Brava Performing Arts, featuring the dance company CobosMika.
The 38th edition of the Festival Perelada will begin with the Easter edition, which will be accompanied by parallel cultural activities during the month of March as the prelude to the programme.
This morning, the Library of the Castle of Peralada hosted the official presentation of the Easter edition of the Festival Perelada. The organisers of the event hinted last year that the Easter edition would continue: 'For my family, this is a very exciting time because it confirms what we said one year ago: that the Easter edition is here to stay. The first edition was a resounding success among both audiences and critics, and I am convinced that the programme we are presenting today will contribute even further to deseasonalising the Festival Perelada and to boosting the range of cultural activities available on the Costa Brava, which is one of the reasons it was created', said the president of the Festival and the Fundació Castell de Peralada, Isabel Suqué Mateu.
From 28 to 30 March, Carme church at the Castle of Peralada, and this year the Gardens as well, will be the backdrop of a programme that features six concerts put together with the goal of appealing to both our loyal audiences that come to the summer festival year after year, and new audiences who yearn to enjoy outstanding music on the Costa Brava during the festive period of Easter Week.
During his talk, Oriol Aguilà, artistic director of the Festival Perelada, explained that 'the mediaeval spaces in the Carme convent at the Castle of Peralada are the meeting point of musicians and creators and our loyal audience, creating a truly unique atmosphere not only for those of us who usually spend Easter Week in the Ampurdan, whom we particularly cater to, but also visitors from around the world who travel to our destination to experience Peralada all year round. This second round of the Easter edition, part of the 38th edition of the Festival Perelada, has more musical events to experience intensely over three consecutive days with the reference as a Baroque space, as a space for rediscovering the repertoire and for Perelada to promote new creation'. Aguilà also added, 'the programme has musical events crafted from Peralada's essence and signature over all these decades, but with an eye to the spirit of Easter, as is inevitable during this time of year and in this space that welcomes us.'
Focus on Peralada's values
The Easter edition will kick off on Thursday 28 March with the Baroque ensemble Vespres d’Arnadí, with Dani Espasa as the musical director. Along with the countertenor Xavier Sabata and the voices of Giulia Semenzato, Marta Almajano, Luigi De Donato and Juan Sancho, lessandro Stradella's oratorio for five voices, San Giovanni Battista, is coming to the festival for the first time. It is a fascinating work that premiered with resounding success at San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome in 1675 but was soon forgotten until the work was exhumed from libraries in 1949, where it had been lying dormant. The work, a biblical story yet with a clearly secular backdrop, draws from certain images from the traditional iconography of Saint John the Baptist and Salome and focuses on four biblical figures and a councillor, Herod.
The Baroque will stay in the spotlight the next day (29 March) with the performance of the Stabat Mater that Johann Sebastian Bach composed based on the celebrated Stabat Mater that Giovanni Battista Pergolesi had composed in 1736. This concert will feature the Bachcelona Consort and the Salvat Bach Grant soloists, Maëlys Robinne and Lara Morger. The Pergolesi work, written for soprano and alto soloists accompanied by a string ensemble, is characterised by its extraordinary expressiveness, primarily achieved through the Italian composer's masterful use of dissonance. The work became an immediate hit and the most published and printed composition of the eighteenth century. El filòsof francès Jean-Jacques Rousseau va elogiar el primer moviment del Stabat Mater com "el duet més perfecte i commovedor sorgit de la ploma d'un compositor" i va seduir a molts músics de l'època que la van adaptar, entre els qual hi trobem a Johann Sebastian Bach, qui en va fer una versió entre els anys 1744 i 1746, sent la interpretació més primerenca d'aquesta música de Pergolesi a Alemanya. Bach changed the text based on Psalm 51 to adapt the music to the Leipzig liturgy, while he enriched the work by adding a total new part for viola, drawing from his unwavering polyphonic style. This Bach adaptation was included in his catalogue as Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden BWV 1083 (Blot out, Highest, my sin) and is a wonderful example of Baroque musical parody. The concert programme is rounded out with a selection of two cantatas: BWV 4 Christ lag in Todes Banden and BWV 31 Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret , which Bach wrote precisely to celebrate the Easter liturgy.
That same evening, the Festival Perelada will host the world premier of Joan Magrané'sTenebrae Responsoria (Feria sexta in Parasceve), which was commissioned by the festival. Some years ago the composer from Reus was thinking about putting the responsories of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday to music, 'or perhaps just doing it for one of those days (or nights, to be more precise)', as he explained at the press conference. Thanks to the exchange of ideas between Francesc Prat and Pau Codina, the work reaches such considerable scope that it alone could become a concert experience that seeks to merge vocal and instrumental music, 'a pathway on which I have been trying to venture for some time', adds Magrané. Maria Hinojosa and the GIO Symphony soon came on board, resulting in a work where the soloists (vocal or instrumental), as well as the other performers, participate in the act of putting some of the texts of the Good Friday Leçons de Ténèbres to music, either with or without words. The influences at this world premiere will be clear: Couperin for the two soloist voices (two sopranos, here turned into a soprano and a cello) and Gesualdo for the choice of texts. The instrumentation of the work includes a flute, oboe, clarinet, two horns, trombone, violin, viola, cello and double-bass. Joan Magrané —guardonat amb diversos premis, entre els quals destaca el XXXI Premi Reina Sofia de Composició Musical, Fundació de Música Ferrer-Salat— torna al Festival amb una nova estrena de nova creació, després que l’any 2019 hi estrenés l’aplaudida òpera contemporània Diàlegs de Tirant e Carmesina.
Visits by international touchstones
The Eater edition will close on Saturday 30 March with a double programme. On the one hand, it will host one of this festival's most sought-after débuts, with the young pianist Yunchan Lim. At the tender age of 18, Lim made history by becoming the youngest winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held in Texas. Since then, his name was catapulted into the headlines and rose to fame even beyond the world of classical music, while he became a national hero in his home country, South Korea. Yunchan's rise in the world of classical music has been meteoric, and the leading stages around the world are courting him, like his anxiously-awaited début at Carnegie Hall and performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Paris and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with musical director Vasily Petrenko. He recently signed an exclusive recording deal with Decca, and this spring the young pianist, who has the world eating out of his hands will make his his début in Spain at this festival with a performance of Frédéric Chopin's Études.
Next, to close this edition, the festival has invited the regular musicians of the Ópera Real to bring part of the Easter experience at Versailles here to Carme church. Under the musical direction of Chloé de Guillebon, and with the participation of the solo singers Lili Aymonino and Johanna Amzal, along with the choir of the Ópera Real, the French ensemble will present a programme that includes works by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749), like Motets for the three days preceding Easter, as well as In monte oliveti, Tristis est anima mea and Stabat Mater pour des religieuses by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) and one of the peaks of early eighteenth-century French art, the Leçons de Ténèbre pour le Mercredi Saint by François Couperin (1668-1733).
Revival of family traditions
Eggs were a symbol of fertility and rebirth in many ancient pagan cultures. The arrival of spring was celebrated with rituals that included decorating and exchanging eggs. WIth the goal of reviving this part of this rite, the Festival Peralada has commissioned the Ampurdan-based creative studio Brava Performing Arts with a cultural proposal that combines the Easter tradition with art and dance to offer audiences an interactive experience in a unique setting. Therefore, on the morning of Good Friday, the giant rabbits created by the Australian artist Amanda Parer will serve as the backdrop for a festival for all audiences directed by the renowned dance company CobosMika, who will make the audience dance to Stravinsky's masterful The Rite of Spring. An experience that combines the Easter tradition with art and dance, along with innovation, play, 'the Mother of Eggs' and a surprise at the end. 'With this activity, we are reviving a sweet tradition that brings me back to my childhood when we used to hunt for Easter eggs in the Castle gardens. This time, the tradition is combined with music and dance, naturally', says Isabel Suqué Mateu.
The determination to hold an Easter edition reflects the Suqué-Mateu's family's passion for Peralada, which continues to expand its entertainment, wine and cultural activities, the essences of Peralada Resort, which operates all year round and since the founding of the Fundació Castell de Peralada aims to contribute to developing the cultural side through different exhibitions and the conservation of the collections through the Castle of Peralada Museum, and now with the Easter Week festival as well.
The attendees at the press conference were treated to a live performance by Pau Codina, and the poster of the 38th edition of the Castle of Peralada Festival was unveiled, the work Explosion of spring 2by the filmmaker and scriptwriter Pedro Almodóvar.
Beyond musical programming
The Easter edition of the Castle of Peralada Festival will also include talks, dialogues and other activities. This parallel programme will be held in March in different venues and institutions to even further enhance enjoyment of this new cultural activity. On Monday 11 March, a dialogue on Stradella's San Joan Baptista will be held with the counter-tenor Xavier Sabata and the musical director Dani Espasa, moderated by the university professor and music critic Jaume Radigales. The next day, Tuesday 12 March, there will be an encounter with the composer Joan Magrané with 'Past and present (new Leçons de ténèbres)', and on Tuesday 19 March the lecture entitled 'Stabat Mater Pergolesi/Bach' will be delivered by the journalist and musical reporter Joan Vives.
Passes and tickets on sale
Starting tomorrow, 22 November, at 10 am, the public may benefit from early sales of the Easer passes that the Festival has created, whose benefits include a direct discount on ticket prices, access to the best seats before sales to the general public are opened and preferred access to extraordinary activities. The public may choose two types of passes: the Easter Pass, which includes all five shows, and the 'à la carte Easter pass', which enables them to choose three of the five scheduled shows. General ticket sales for the shows open on 24 November at 10 am. The ticket prices range from 3 to 75 euros.
Pass and ticket sales at www.festivalperalada.com