The Religious Music Week of Cuenca resumes its activity

The SMR opens to new styles in its 59th edition (from April 7 to 17, 2022) after two blank years due to the Covid-19 pandemic

The Cuenca Religious Music Week is back. The fourth oldest festival in Spain could not be held in 2020 or 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its 59th edition could not take place until this year, when it will be held between April 7 and 17. After that forced break, the event is reactivated under a new artistic direction, led by Daniel Broncano, and open to new experiences and musical genres, such as jazz, flamenco or blues. Lyrical singing maintains its space in the programming of a festival that wants to continue being an international reference «with a defined proposal of liturgical, sacred, mystical, spiritual and transcendental music that spans more than ten centuries».

A total of 18 proposals make up the offer of the 59th edition of the Cuenca Religious Music Week (SMR), whose poster has been announced today Monday in the Cuenca Auditorium Theater and tomorrow, February 1, it will be announced in Madrid, in an act planned in the Castilla-La Mancha Tourism Promotion Office (11 a.m.) which will be attended by the artistic director of the festival, Daniel Broncano, and some of the artists who will participate in the contest. The organizers of the event emphasize that this “This year faces a crucial period” with the desire to become «a cultural festival of the 21st century with broad views and a wide range of musical languages, without ever losing its hallmarks: artistic excellence and the exploration of religiosity and transcendence in music».

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One of the paths that the SMR follows is that of the new creation. In its next edition, the festival will premiere a work commissioned by the contest itself from the composer Jesus Torres, Alter Beast, written for solo soprano and 16 instruments. The Church of La Merced will host the first on April 13 with the participation of Isabella Gaudí and the PluralEnsemble under the direction of its owner, Fabián Panisello. The concert will be completed with the Symphony no. 1 Titan from Gustav Mahler in the chamber orchestration of Claus Simon.

The lyrical voice will also be the protagonist in other planned performances, such as that of the countertenor Jose Hernandez Pastorwho will perform Gregorian chant a capella in the framework of the desecrated Church of Alarcón (April 9). The old church of San Juan Bautista houses what are known as Murals of Alarconwork of the artist Jesus Matthewwho worked on them between 1994 and 2002 and which in 1997 UNESCO declared as an asset of world artistic interest.

The Auditorium Theater of Cuenca will host, on April 10, the interpretation of the Mass in B minor from Johann Sebastian Bach in charge of the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain under the direction of its owner, David Afkham. The vocal soloists invited to sing the work are the soprano Robin Johannsenthe means Sophie Harmsenthe tenor Yeremy Ovenden and the bass Konstantin Wolff. After twelve years of absence from the SMR, this performance will mean the return to the OCNE contest, one of the great groups invited to participate in this year’s new edition of the festival.

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Another well-known formation, the Granada City Orchestracon Lucas Macias on the podium, will take care of the Mass in C major, Coronation from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He will perform this piece also at the Teatro Auditorio de Cuenca (April 13) and with the solo voices of the contralto sea ​​fieldthe tenor James Beggthe baritone Javier Povedano and the soprano Serena Saenzwinner of the Caballé 2021 Contest. The same stage will receive visits from the ensemble Singer Purwho together with the clarinetist David Orlowsky will recover works by Palestrina and Gesualdo (April 14), and by the soprano Barbara Hendricks (April 15). The veteran American artist will perform in Cuenca with a program of blues, jazz, gospel and spirituals.

In addition to other notable instrumental proposals, the Religious Music Week of Cuenca incorporates into its offer around the event the initiatives +SMR y musical cuaresma. The first consists of a series of activities beyond the concerts with informative presentations, sound meditations or cinematographic projections, while the second consists of a musical-social program with the collaboration of the Globalcaja Foundation which includes school concerts, in centers for the elderly or music therapy, among other proposals.– OH