The International Guitar Festival at Coria starts with the month of August. This festival is a prestigious date for artists, musicians, students and serious music lovers. But also, as time goes by it has become attractive to a wider range of public that feel attracted, specially to the inaugural concerts that feature artist like: Carlos Nuñez, Estrella Morente, Tomatito, Raimundo Amador, José Mercé, Vicente Amigo or Manolo Sánlucar at a historical stage, which is the plaza in front of the Cathedral of Coria. Great classical guitar Maestros can be seen at this festival, willing to share their knowledge with students that come from allover the world. The students can participate in any of the two categories of the Contest: Juniors, until the age of 18 and Seniors from 19 year olds and over.
During the first week of August, for seven consecutive days, the concerts and auditions occur in the walled city of Coria, which is in Northern Extremadura, at the valley of the river Alagón. The opening Concert held by popular artist, have an entrance fee, which is modest if we take into account the quality of these performances. They are open-air concerts at the Plaza in front of the Cathedral. In addition, people can enjoy the most professional auditions held inside the Cathedral, or at he Royal Prison. These auditions are free of charge. They are held at unique scenarios in this very monumental and comfortable city, which adds a real plus to this important musical date. And since it is held during the summer, geographically it is surrounded by beautiful natural river swimming pools, which is characteristic of Northern Extremadura.
This is a place in Spain of ancient and rich History. There were people living at the present location of Coria most certainly before the arrival of the Romans in the Iberian Peninsula. We know that the locals called the place Caura, which the Romans changed to Caurium. In turn the Visigoth renamed the location to its present name and founded the Dioceses of Coria. During the long years of the Spanish Reconquista, the township of Coria was conquered form the Muslims on two occasions. The long history of Coria has interesting archeological remains to be visited.
You must imagine Carlos Nuñez in a concert, during a summer night al fresco at the Plaza in front of the Cathedral, by the side of the Churrigueresque bell tower, to want to be there. Or imagine Hugo Molto, the winner of the 2013 edition of the contest, playing at the Cathedral of Coria, the same concert that he was to interpret later at the mythical Carnegie Hall of New York City. Also, picture the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet at the foot of the main altar of the Cathedral interpreting their music. Or just imagine listening to the Extremadura Orchestra, with David Martinez as a soloist, playing the Concierto de Aranjuez. Also, think of Fernando Espí, Margarita Escarpa, or Thomas Offerman and so many other prestigious professors at the Coria festival. In 2006 a record number of students registered, but after the organizers decided to limit the total enrollment to 40 students a year, in order to maintain the quality of the competition. They onsider the limited registration is necessary for assuring world excellence. This can be verified by the public, which every year will attend to a number of outstanding concerts where professors and winners of the previous year festival perform. These concerts are held on a daily basis. Also, the winner of the Festival will perform at the Cathedral.
In fact, performing at the Cathedral is one of the prizes for the winner of the Senior Category: To perform at the Festival the following year, to perform in the United States, to perform in Germany and also, at various other locations where the Instituto Cervantes has offices. In addition, the winner is prized with a concert guitar made by the luthier José Rodriguez Peña, valued for 6000 Euros and a cash prize of 5000 Euros. There are also prizes for other participants of which, a prize is allotted by the public.
This is a unique Festival in Extremadura. It has grown and made an important place among the international festivals of classical guitar in only 19 years. This festival was born thanks to the dedication of the Escuela Municipal de Música de Coria and thus the Municipality of this city. The maestro Hugo Geller has lead a number of illustrious organizers. The music of the Festival is a perfect combination with the Cathedral of Coria, which shares a leading role during the event. The Cathedral l is an architectural work of art, which represents the transitional Gothic period with important additions of Plateresque and Baroque styles. This of course is a magnificent scenario in a city, loaded with history. The festival has turned into a true privilege for the North of Extremadura that sounds like heaven every beginning of August.
Event: The International Guitar Festival
Place: Coria, the fourth largest city in Province of Cáceres, located in the North of Extremadura, Spain
Date: First week in the month of August
Google GPS Coordinates 39.987733, -6.537084
Original article by Merche R. Rey
Translated by Susana Windt