The San Sebastián Quincena Musical close its 84th festival, with 4 full houses at the Kursaal, and a total of 31,000 attendees

●             Beethoven's Ninth, Mahler's Eighth, Swan Lake and Anne-Sophie Mutter & Mutter's Virtuosi were totally sold out

●             The monumental presence of Mahler's Eighth Symphony and the debut of a staged version of the oratorio “Oedipus Rex”, produced in-house, were two artistic highlights of this year’s festival

●             A total of 82 events were held, 36 of them free to attend, with box office takings of €713,000

Tonight, the 84th Quincena Musical concludes in the Kursaal Auditorium with the second concert of Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, under the direction of Omer Meir Wellber. The concert is based around Haydn's “Missa Nelson”, considered the crowning work of the composer's extensive catalogue, and is to be performed by Andra Mari Abesbatza and a cast of international soloists. This score will become the epilogue of a festival that has given us so many great memories of live music and dance.

From August 3rd to September 1st, the 84th Quincena Musical of San Sebastián offered a total of 82 events, in multiple formats and diverse surroundings, attended by a total of 31,000 people. Box office takings this year amounted to €713,000.

The series of major concerts at the Kursaal Auditorium, the backbone of the festival, reached 16,100 attendees. Four of the scheduled events were completely sold out: Beethoven's 9th Symphony, performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orfeón Donostiarra, local and international soloists, and conductor Lahav Shani; Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand”, which sold out in under 24 hours; a reimagining of Swan Lake created by Angelin Preljocaj and performed by Ballet Preljocaj; and the return to the festival of violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, accompanied by Mutter's Virtuosi. These successes are a reflection of the core values of the Quincena, blending the presence of top-level international artists with local talent, and the promotion of emerging values and support for new creators.

From an artistic point of view, this year’s festival had two notable high points: the breathtaking performance of Mahler's 8th Symphony (the “Symphony of a Thousand”), and the premiere of a new piece produced for the Quincena by the Per Poc puppet company: “Oedipus Rex”. Programming Mahler's 8th Symphony for the second time in the history of the festival was an enormous challenge involving more than 400 musicians, and the performance was heartily appreciated by a full house at the Kursaal Auditorium. The Euskadiko Orkestra, the Navarra Symphony Orchestra, the Orfeón Donostiarra, the Orfeón Pamplonés, the Easo Eskolania and the Easo Gazte Abesbatza, alongside local soloists including Miren Urbieta-Vega, under the direction of Robert Treviño, demonstrated the artistic capacity of the region to defend a piece of the magnitude and complexity of Mahler's symphony ("Everyone managed to create that desired sensation of progression towards the eternal that both Mahler and Goethe wanted for their work. Fantastic" Mari Jose Cano, Diario Vasco).

This year’s festival also included the debut of a new staged version of the oratorio “Oedipus Rex”, created and directed by the Catalan company Per Poc. The Quincena recovered this unusual work from the first half of the 20th century, and adds it to its catalogue of performances produced for, and debuted at, the festival. This new vision of Stravinsky's opera-oratorio, based on the homonymous tragedy by Sophocles, with texts by Jean Cocteau, the Quincena relied on the extensive experience with symphony orchestras of the Catalan puppet company, created and directed by Santi Arnal and Anna Fernandez. This first collaboration between the company and the festival also featured director Erik Nielsen, the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa and the Easo Abesbatza, and a cast of solo voices led by tenor Peter Marsh in the role of Oedipus, as well as renowned French actress and singer Irène Jacob. (“The artisanal work to recreate the original Greek masks, as well as the subtle ways of presenting it on stage, emphasising hieraticism with extraordinary movement and lighting, channelled a striking aesthetic and musical result” Marta García, Berria).

Also in the Kursaal Auditorium, the communion between soloists such as Grigory Sokolov (piano), Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) and Mitsuko Uchida (piano) and their audience was evident once again with the warm welcome they received from an enchanted auditorium. Grigory Sokolov showed his generosity and responded with no less than six encores to the thunderous reaction of his followers at the end of the concert. And Anne-Sophie Mutter & Mutter's Virtuosi thanked the audience with three encores for the applause of those attending one of the concerts with which the German violinist celebrated her 60th anniversary. It is also worth highlighting the opportunity that Mitsuko Uchida gave to enjoy her four-hand concert work with Jonathan Biss (“It is always a luxury to listen to Mitsuko Uchida… but having Uchida share an instrument with Jonathan Biss to interpret his very affectionate Schubert is a once in a lifetime opportunity", Nora Franco, Naiz/Klassikbidea), as well as the debut of cellist Pablo Ferrández in the Quincena, together with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Lahav Shani (“Ferrández’s interpretation, extroverted and technically confident, was perfect to round out the elegant, sensuous and perfect sound of the orchestra”, Montserrat Auzmendi, Argia); as well as the return of violinist Hilary Hahn with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Omer Meir Wellber (“Wild and tender. Aggressive and delicate. Violinist Hilary Hahn gave a memorable performance yesterday”, Mari Jose Cano, Diario Vasco) and the concert by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under the direction of Daniel Harding, praised by critics (“ will undoubtedly be one of those that are remembered for years to come'', Ana G. Urcola, Scherzo).

Outside of the Kursaal Auditorium, the other cycles that complete the Quincena continue to attract interest, both in San Sebastián and beyond. This year, more than 14,900 people gathered at concerts and dance performances, including 1,122 people at the Victoria Eugenia Theater, 2380 people at the Ancient and Chamber Music concerts at San Telmo Museum (including six full houses), 5,409 people at the Organ Cycle, 2,429 people attending the Quincena Andante and 1,415 at inaugural concerts.

This year’s festival also included the debuts of seven new pieces:

●             The new staged version of the oratorio “Oedipus Rex”, commissioned by the Quincena itself to Per Poc, in the Kursaal Auditorium cycle.

●             "In the owl's eye", by Miguel Mercero, performed by Kirudat Dúo in the Young Performers Cycle.

●             “…pour l'orgue de San Sebastian”, by Eric Lebrun, performed by its author in the Organ Cycle.

●             and four works in the Contemporary Music Cycle: “Handikoak”, by Félix Ibarrondo, performed by Plural Ensemble, “Ad index Deconstruction II”, by Carmen Asenjo-Marrodán, performed by Silboberri, “Uneindeutiges”, by Lula Romero, performed by Silboberri, and “Sssooooommmm”, by Aurélio Edler-Copes, performed by Xelo Giner.