Unforgettable concerts of the VI International Classical Music Festival of Bogotá

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Orchestre Des Champs-Élysées / Photo: Arthur Pequin.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who will avoid traffic gridlock in and out of Bogotá during the Easter holiday week, and prefer to indulge in the great cultural offering the capital has on offer, then, we’ve updated some of the concert highlights, and unforgettable performances of the VI International Classical Music Festival of Bogotá, dedicated to La Belle Époque.

As the curtain rises at Teatro Mayor with the opening concert on Wednesday, April 5, featuring German singer Ute Lemper, over three concert-filled days, audiences will be able to hear outstanding artists and interpretations of the composers who defined La Belle Époque, among them Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Gabriel Fauré and Camille Saint-Saëns.

The festival takes place on 16 stages in the city and includes nine free concerts, including one at the Primary Cathedral of Bogotá with the youth choir Schola Cantorum. Titled “En Prière: French sacred music for prayer,” this noontide concert on Thursday, April 6, includes sacred works by late 19th-Century composers Francis Poulenc, Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré, Ernest Chausson, Joseph Guy Roparz and Maurice Duruflé.

The Festival, which takes place every two years, and has been organized since 2013 by the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo invites world renowned vocalists, chamber ensembles, orchestras and dance companies to the Colombian capital, and a unique opportunity of guest musicians to exchange experiences with the Colombian counterparts. For this edition, France, Spain, Germany, Canada, Austria, Hungary, United Kingdom, Switzerland and United States are represented.

The cultural transformations of La Belle Époque not only took European capitals by storm but reshaped the artistic landscape of the continent. On Thursday, April 6, Spanish violinist Leticia Moreno and conductor Adrian Chamorro will perform Bizet’s Carmen Suite No.1, as well as works by Pablo de Sarastre and Éduardo Lalo. This morning concert  (11:30 am) at Teatro Mayor headlines as “The Spirit of Spain” and will be accompanied by the talented musicians of the Youth Philharmonic of Colombia.

Another “not-to-be-missed” concert is a piano recital by Marc-André Hamelin on April 5 at Teatro Mayor. As the recipient of the prestigious Diapason d’Or Award, Canadian Marc-André Hamelin will perform 12 Preludes by Claude Debussy and four works by Maurice Ravel, including Gaspard de la Nuit based on poems for piano by Aloysius Bertrand.

French pianist Alexandre Tharaud will also deliver a recital on April 6 (4:00 pm) at Teatro Mayor titled “Journey to Modernism”, and musical tour-de-force in lesser-known works of La Belle Époque by composers Satie, Ravel and Debussy. This concert also includes works by Walter Donaldson, Joe Jekyll and George Gershwin.

On Good Friday escape to Teatro Mayor to hear the Paris-based Orchestre Des Champs-Élysées and the period instrument interpretations of Ravel and Debussy. This concert will be directed by Gabriella Teychenné, the young English conductor who was recently described in The Guardian as creating on stage exactly the right mix of wildness and virtuosity.” The Orchestre will be accompanied on stage by the Santa Cecilia Choral Society.

The French organist and teacher Gabriel Fauré is the protagonist for the final curtain call of La Belle Époque, and his most serene Requiem will be performed by the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées. Vocalists Betty Garcés (soprano), American baritone John Chest, and conductor Gabriella Teychenne will close a festival of magnificent music. Tickets are still available for this concert of Saturday, April 8 (8:30 pm).

For the full program of concerts and tickets, visit the official site of the festival:  https://festivalmusicaclasicadebogota.org/