Dressed to the nines in and around some of the most beautiful buildings in Spain, listening to beautiful music performed live by world-class musicians. This is a luxury normally associated with capital cities throughout Europe and the rest of the world, but it might surprise you to know that Andalucía is now at the forefront of classical music and dance.
Article by Vivion O’Kelly
For a region whose native music and dance traditions have achieved worldwide recognition, there are also plenty of symphony and philharmonic orchestras in Andalucía, and numerous venues where they perform. Most of the more important orchestras are government funded and associated with magnificent theatres whose names we are already familiar with: the Lope de Vega and Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, the Auditorio Manuel de Falla and the Real Monasterio de San Jerónimo in Granada, and the Teatro Cervantes in Málaga.
And then we have the settings that are not theatres, ranging from city parks, disused quarries and bullrings to beautiful gardens, ancient ruins, and caves, the two best-known of these being the Alhambra’s Generalife Theatre in Granada and the Nerja Caves.
The oldest concert setting in Andalucía – about five million years old, to be inexact – is undoubtedly the caves in Nerja, east of Málaga City. One of its chambers forms a natural amphitheatre, and for the past 60 years, the Cueva de Nerja International Music and Dance Festival has been taking place there. All genre of music and dance, although mostly popular music, is performed in this truly unique setting. The festival, which began with a performance of the ballet Le Tour de Paris by the Málaga Symphony Orchestra in June 1960, ran this year from 21 July to 30 July and featured popular Spanish singers and musicians, including Rosario Flores. From this year on, in the interests of conservation, the concerts will take place in the recently built Manuel de Campo Auditorium, outside the cave itself.
The big act, insofar as worldwide reputation is concerned, is the International Festival of Music and Dance in Granada City, which has been taking place for the past 70 years in the lush setting of the Generalife Gardens in the famous Alhambra Palace, where some of the greatest singers, musicians and dancers of our time have performed. Concerts of all kinds are held there, mostly Spanish and international pop, with the autumn season beginning in September in the Generalife Theatre. The Waterboys are playing there on September 17th, 2022.
Its origins, however, date back further, to 1883, when the first concerts were held at the Carlos V Palace during the Corpus Christi festivals. Searching on the Internet for more detailed information on this festival, one comes across the so-called FEX Granada festival, known locally as El Fex, and this stands for Festival EXtensión de Granada, a fringe (or extended) version of the main festival, taking place in many different venues in and around the city and province.
The Orquestra Ciudad de Granada performs mainly in the Auditorio Manuel de Falla, located in a rather sombre modern building on the slope of the hill just south of the Alhambra complex.
Seville’s Opera House, the Teatro de la Maestranza, was originally built as an arsenal in 1587, the present building dating from as recent as 1991. Its neoclassical façade has been preserved on the outside, while the inside features the very latest in acoustic technology, allowing for easy adaptation of the stage for operas or symphonic concerts. It is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, just down from the Real Maestranza Bullring, and the house band, so to speak, is the Real Orchestra Sinfónica de Seville.
Just a few minutes’ walk along the riverbank from the Teatro de la Maestranza and up to the María Luisa Park is the opulent Teatro Lope de Vega, a small Baroque Revival theatre built for the Ibero-American Expo in 1929. The building went through periods of neglect since then, due to fire and flood, and was used as a hospital during the Civil War. It was totally renovated in recent decades, however, and is now one of the city’s primary cultural centres, hosting plays, flamenco shows and some concerts, although none of note during the rest of the present summer season.
A total of 75 concerts, from Mondays to Saturdays, make up the Nights in the Gardens of the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, running from 23 June to 17 September this year. The location is self-explanatory, and anybody who has ever visited it will know what a truly magnificent concert venue it makes. The 2022 cycle celebrates the more than 1000 years of the existence of the Alcázar, featuring music from the different periods of that time, right up to our day.
The Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra performs regularly throughout the year at the Teatro Cervantes, and at several venues in and around the city, including the Picasso Museum, the Malaga Museum, the Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Auditorio Edgar Neville. It also performs at cultural events throughout Spain and Europe.
The 19th century Teatro Cervantes in the heart of Málaga’s historic centre, not far from the Picasso’s Birthplace Museum, is home to the Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra. As famous Spanish theatres go, it is not exceptional in architectural style, although somewhat imposing in the context of the urban space around it.
The Auditorio Edgar Neville, named after a Spanish film director and playwright of the Generation of ’27, whose father was English, is a large modern glass building on that part of the N-340 that passes through Málaga City parallel to the Playa de la Misericordia beach, about two kilometres before reaching the port. It was built in 2007 as a multi-disciplinary space and hosts the concert series named Ciclo Filarmónica Frente al Mar.
*All concert dates given, as all public events in Spain at this time, are subject to change as a result of Covid.