Wow! I am impressed, said Hambersin

Yesterday afternoon some members of the OVIEDO GENERA team held a very interesting meeting with Michel Hambersin (Chairman of the Belgian Music Press and of the Contemporary Festival Ars Musica), as part of the PUCK Project encounters that took place at the Historic Building of Oviedo University.

Michel Hambersin

This is the presentation we prepared, MUSIC in Oviedo:

Good afternoon to everyone. Who I am is not important at all, but it is the foundation I represent, Fundación Magistralia, and even more, the OVIEDO GENERA project, which is the reason why we are here today. 

Magistralia Foundation has been working in the development of classical music since 2001. We started organizing orchestral summer courses for music students whose conservatories did still not have an orchestra themselves. Once that problem was solved, we entered the magic world of musical therapy, in which there is still a lot to do. We have, in the meanwhile, organized musical activities of all kinds for children, families, adults and we are about to open for appliances the 5th edition of the Magistralia Competition for Women Composers, finally worldwide known. This is what I represent every day of my life, and what takes away, too often, my sleep. 

But today I am here speaking in the name of OVIEDO GENERA, and therefore in the name of Oviedo´s Council. And the aim of both, Oviedo Genera and the council is the same: improve the attendance to musical activities and develop new techniques to bring new publics to our programs.

How? Well, that is the question. And for many (maybe not for those sitting here today) the question might be: is it worth it? If potential public does not react to the offer, with all the information we get at the palm of our hands with our smartphones, do people really choose, or they just don´t know what to choose?  Are they being informed the right way? Are they being informed at all?

If we spread out the cultural planning of Oviedo, many of you would be just amazed once you realize that this city has only 225.000 inhabitants. It does not even get to a quarter of a million. And the offer, mentioning only the municipal activities, not the private ones, is the following: 

The Campoamor theatre helds the Opera Festival, nowadays with 5 titles and 5 performances per title, which makes a total of 20, from September to January. I think it is worth mentioning that the Opera Festival in Oviedo comes from the 17th century. 

This cute and elegant Campoamor theatre helds, as well, the Zarzuela Season, with 4 titles and 4 performances per title, making a total of 16 performances. (I am giving you easy mathematical formulas so far), and it goes from february to may, more or less. 

The Dance Festival takes also place in this theatre, and in this case the number of titles and representations vary, according to availability of the theatre and, of course, budgets. 

The Campoamor has many other musical activities spread out along the year, such as recitals, musicals, New Year Concerts, and so on. 

There is another smaller but very popular theatre in Oviedo, the Philarmonic Theatre. This theatre is the rehearsal home for the Oviedo Filarmonía, the municipal orchestra. 

This one helds smaller productions, which does not mean smaller effects at all. Apart from Asturian folk music, fado, pop, flamenco, etc., the Philarmonic Theatre is where the Oviedo Council, together with the Magistralia Foundation, performs a series of symphonic concerts for children, during the school period. This next Friday we will have the two concerts assigned. Is it enough? I think we should start questioning ourselves about this. 

Some family concerts are also performed in this theatre. In fact, on next May 17th the Council of Oviedo and Magistralia Foundation, as one of the Oviedo Genera activities, will finally bring Ara Malikian and his orchestra on the roof, with two concerts in one evening. We can´t wait to see it and listen to it, and I must confess that since I mentioned it in the radio a few weeks ago, we have so many requests for tickets that I am afraid there won´t be any left for sale. This may sound exaggerated, but not so much. This is another point over which we should also think. 

And last, but not least, we have the Prince of Asturias Auditorium, the big house on the corner. 

With a capacity for over 23 00 people, the Auditorium is the home for the Symphonic Orchestra of Asturias. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in this little tiny city we have two big orchestras, and not long ago we used to have three, since the Moscow Virtuosi Chamber orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Spivakov was stablished here from 1990 to 2006, and many of its members are still working in this other orchestras or teach in our conservatories. A luxury we never realized we had until we lost it. 

But lets go back to the municipal music program. This Auditorium, which belongs both to the Council of Oviedo and to the Principality of Asturias, helds, year after year, the Piano Festival (in fact, tomorrow we will have the great pleasure to listen to Michael Nyman, both with his group and also conducting the Oviedo Filarmonía in the premiere of one of his newest compositions). 

The Piano festival brought, only this season, great artists such as Evgueny Kissin, Maria Joao Pires, Grigory Sokolov and, as I already mentioned, Michael Nyman. 

Other big format concerts take place in this Auditorium. April will bring Gustavo Dudamel with the Radio Baviera Symphonic Orchestra, in may we will have the BBC Philarmonic with Julia Fisher at violin and Juanjo Mena conducting, the Orchestra Philarmonica della Scala, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, among others, and some Antique Music programs, like the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, Forma Antiqua or L´Arpeggiata. 

Of course there are many other performing arts or cultural activities (theatre, cinema, conferences, exhibitions, etc) that take place in Oviedo, but that is not my field, neither the aim of Oviedo Genera.

 I am sure I forget something, but that´s also the aim of Oviedo Genera, and we will do our best to remind everyone of us what is going on. 

Thank you very much.