Bogotá is Baroque: A world-class music festival Nov 12 to 15


If there is a moment to reflect on what we have lived through with the coronavirus pandemic and celebrate together the enduring power of classical music, then November delivers a cultural highlight of the year with the V International Festival of Classical Music of Bogotá.

The four-day festival (November 12-15) at Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo is inspired by a theme close to the cultural spirit of the Colombian capital, one that is vibrant, resilient, and joyful: BOGOTÁ IS BAROQUE.

The three composers who incarnate this musical epoch are Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Händel and Antonio Vivaldi. The work of these three composers will allow the public to experience and enjoy the richness of the Baroque style and its particular characteristics, both in sacred and secular repertoires.

This edition of the festival coincides with the celebration of the 300 years of Bach’s wedding with Anna Magdalena Wilcke, his second wife, his indefatigable assistant, and the great love of his life, so a tribute will be paid to her in a concert that includes some of the works that Bach wrote and compiled for her. In the same year of their wedding, 1721, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos were published and masterpieces at the heart of his prolific legacy.

During the festival, there will be the unique opportunity to listen to a work by Anna Magdalena Bach, discovered in 2005 by the current director of the Leipzig Bach Festival, Michael Maul, who in turn, will introduce the concert. In this way, in 2021, the V International Festival of Classical Music of Bogotá will once again be at the epicenter of the best composers, interpreters of classical music and audiences.

The birth of trade routes, the rise of great Western cities (Venice, Vienna, London, Prague, Dresden to name a few), the first printing presses and grandeur in architectural style can all be attributed to the Baroque period and one that, in music and visual arts, occupies a large part of the classical cannon. Known for hosting world-class productions and welcoming the most prestigious orchestras, soloists and vocalists to their stages, the Teatro Mayor’s BOGOTÁ IS BAROQUE marks another milestone for this cultural institution when it comes to great performances.

The inaugural concert on November 12 (8:00 pm) is J.S.Bach’s Mass in B minor, played by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogotá (OFB) under the baton of Spanish music director Carlos Mena. Completed in 1749, a year before the German composer’s death, Holl-Messe (BMV 232) is a profound spiritual masterwork and testament to hope. The soloists who will accompany the liturgy is soprano Cornelia Horak (Austria); mezzo-soprano Andrea Niño (Colombia);  tenor Carlos Mena, (Spain); tenor Benedikt Kristjánsson (Iceland);  bass José Coca Loza (Bolivia). The Youth Philharmonic Choir of the Bogotá Philharmonic and Chamber Choir of the Faculty of Arts of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana make up the chorale.

Just before the launch of BOGOTÁ ES BARROCO, France’s IL Convito will perform in the theatre’s studio Bach’s Art of the Fugue BWV 1080. Founded in 2015 as a baroque, classical and romantic ensemble, IL Convito draws musical inspiration from art history and works for organ and harpsichord. Their internationally renowned soloists have collaborated with artists such as Les Basses Réunies, harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï, composer Nicolas Frize, percussionist Florent Jodelet and art historian Anne Delage.

The ensemble’s director Maude Gratton graduated from the Conservatoire Superior de Paris in 2003 and was awarded second place at the prestigious organ competition MAfestival de Bruges.  She currently teaches at the Center for Early Music in Versailles and Academy for Early Music in Vannes, France. The concert on November 12 starts at 6:30 pm. Gratton will also give a free recital at the organ of Bogotá’s Primary Cathedral on the following day (November 13 – 3:00 pm) with fugues by Bach and Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor.

German conductor Jürgen Wolf

With 31 concerts – nine free to the general public – BOGOTÁ IS BAROQUE brings together five orchestras, four native to Colombia (Bogotá Philharmonic, National Symphony, Youth Chamber Philharmonic, Colombian Youth Philharmonic), as well as Germany’s lautten compagney. The Berlin-based lautten compagney will perform on November 13 (11:00 am) a mostly Händel repertoire and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No.1. The group’s principal conductor Wolfgang Katschner specializes in Early Music, Baroque and Händel’s operas.

Katschner joins four other conductors – Jürgen Wolf (Germany), Carlos Mena (Spain), Adrián Chamorro (Colombia), Roger Díaz-Cajamarca (Colombia) at the festival.

As a monumental cultural undertaking for Teatro Mayor, as well as a slate of other respected institutions, BOGOTÁ IS BAROQUE also includes lectures and free concerts in the city’s public spaces, showing that music is the ultimate democratic instrument, reaching across demographics and socio-economic divides. The lecture series’ three guest speakers are Clemens Birnbaum, director of the Händel Halle Festival;  Michael Maul, director of the Bach Leipzig Festival, and Yalilé Cardona Alonso, co-director of the International Classical Music Festival of Bogotá.

With days and nights dedicated to the great masters of the Baroque, Bogotá is back, or better said: Bogotá is Bach, Händel and Vivaldi.

For the complete programme and listing of artists visit:


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