San Juan’s Casals Festival will premiere later this week with its accustomed roster of internationally recognized musicians despite the financial crisis that has crippled the Puerto Rican economy. Artistic and musical director Justino Díaz told EFE that it seemed like “a miracle” that the Festival has been able to celebrate its 54th annual edition despite the island’s deep economic recession.
Since its founding by the great Pablo Casals 54 years ago, the Casals Festival of Puerto Rico has distinguished itself for the high level of its artistic and musical offerings, earning its place as one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious festivals of classical music. This year, they will continue that tradition as internationally renowned artists will converge in San Juan from February 20 to March 13, 2010.
This year’s guests include the stunning Japan-born violinist Midori, chamber music legend Menahem Pressler and Vladimir Feltsman in an all-Chopin recital, and world-acclaimed soprano Ana María Martínez, a favorite of the great opera houses, including the Met, La Scala, Covent Garden, and the Salzburg Festival.
Adding luster to this list are the Pacifica Quartet, named Ensemble of the Year in 2009 by Musical America; the American String Quartet, celebrating 33 years of brilliant performances; and the twelve virtuoso members of the New York Chamber Soloists in two varied and exceptional chamber programs.
Rounding out this musical feast are the Casals Chamber Players performing some of the best chamber music by Puerto Rican composers, including recent Grammy nominees and winners. Of equal importance is the participation of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra led by music director Maximiano Valdés and guest conductor Yoav Talmi.
Spain-born Pablo Casals (1876–1973) was a world famous virtuoso cello player. An ardent supporter of the Spanish Republican Government, Casals fled Franco’s Spain to the French Village of Prades and eventually settled in Puerto Rico, his mother’s birthplace. There he founded in 1957 the festival which bears his name.
For more information and tickets go to http://www.festcasalspr.gobierno.pr/index2.html
Image: Lorenzo Homar’s studies for the inaugural Casals Festival Poster (1957)