Posts Tagged ‘Fira Mediterrània de Manresa’


Manresa Revisited from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

This year’s report on the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa finds me once again trying to capture the torrent of events and concerts that make up this city-wide festival. My last report was concert-centric, but this time around, I decided to cover a bit more of the culinary and street life.

Although it has its charming old section, Manresa’s main attraction year round is the monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, carved out of the mountain that overlooks the city, affording a remarkable vista of Catalonia. But I’ve yet to visit the monastery because the festival keeps me hopping; there is something interesting happening somewhere, all the time. With over 300 events to coordinate, I imagine that the staff of the Fira has only about two weeks rest after the dust settles before they are back to work for the next one.

That is not to say there is no time for a visitor to just sit and relax…With its broad avenues, quiet plazas and narrow side streets, Manresa is sprinkled with restaurants and wine bars, where one can always choose to slow down with something savory, be it liquid or solid. During the festival there is an entire avenue set aside for dining al fresco, and one can also stroll at a leisurely pace, sampling from the local food booths.

The festival brings in all kinds of talent — for example Toumani and Sidiki Diabate of Mali were there to enchant with the rippling sounds of their kora duets — but there is a definite emphasis on Catalan and Iberian culture. There is music, dance, theater, and all kinds of street entertainment. There was a beatbox concert with full orchestra backup, and a lyrical choreographed dance piece performed by elderly women. There were rides and entertainment just for kids, and I found myself consistently surprised and entertained by it all.

This is a not a festival set up in a field somewhere with tents and bandstands. The old town is the setting for this celebration, and the locals most definitely participate spiritedly. It is a civilized and happy efflorescence of culture and fellow-feeling, and with Barcelona only 50 kilometers away, it is an event worth planning a trip around.

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A Catalonian Feast-ival from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

Located about 50 kilometers from Barcelona, Manresa is a small, laid back Catalonian city. It has its picturesque Old Section as well as an impressive, well-appointed cathedral, and the famous monastery of Montserrat is perched on a nearby rocky mountaintop. But the Fira Mediterránia de Manresa, a four-day celebration and Trade Fair going into its 16th year, stirs the place up and brings the population into the concert halls and out onto the streets to enjoy a meticulously programmed whirlwind of music, cinema, dance, theater and more. The joint gets jumpin’. If you’ve got a trip to Spain planned in November, make sure you include this festival in your itinerary.

Because the event takes place all over town, it was necessary to pick and choose my coverage and up front I’ll tell you that what I have captured in my video is only a small slice of it. In particular, I did not cover the imported acts, because I was curious about the local Catalan culture specifically, and fine as these other artists were, I felt they would divert me from my focus. I’ll always regret not catching Hermanos Cuberos, who according to the festival book combine music from the Alcarra region of Spain with bluegrass! And there were many fine Catalan acts that I did not even get around to seeing.

And I also have to say a word about the food. It was everywhere, and if you knew where to go, (and could deal with the siesta closings) it was excellent. I brought back 2 bags of little dried local mushrooms which I am still using slowly, when the dish calls for their distinctive taste and texture. They are tiny treasures.

I was fortunate to be staying at the same hotel as Dave Ellwand who has researched and written about Catalan food, music and mores. Our conversations over breakfast were informative and tantalizing, so I simply had to include him at some point in the video; credit where credit is due. He has provided some links to further information and events below. And because this video is a quick survey, here are links to full songs.

To see the full song by Evo, go to:

To see a (different) full song by Els Berros de la Cort go to:

For full performance of “Waka Waka” by Els Laietans go to:

For more information about the festival visit:

For an archived radio programme about the previous year’s festival:

CAT centre has an annual festival of Catalan/Valencian/Balearic/Basque performances from January to April as well as year-round music teaching and summer schools.* Information about all festivals is easiest to get on

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Evo at Manresa from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

The Cathedral “La Seu” in Manresa was the venue for some lovely performances over the course of the festival. This one was particularly good, although I found the acoustics to be problematic. Sometimes you want that massive church echo (great for Gregorian chant); but sometimes it turns the music to mush. Even as I was shooting, I was wondering if the audio track was going to be usable. As it turned out, it wasn’t. So I was thrilled when the leader of the group, Efrén López sent me a recording that was made from the performance, and while it still had a goodly amount of reverb, it had decent separation of the sounds.

The group is made up of: Efrén López Sanz, Miriam Encinas Laffitte, Laia Puig Olives, Iván López Sanz, and for this performance, Pau Marcos. The song is “De la iensor qu’om vey” by Berenguer de Palou, a 12th century troubadour also known as Berenguier de Palazol or Palol. However you spell the name, the man could write a great melody, and although I do not speak Catalan (and don’t even try a computer translation, it is NOT going to work) I suspect the lyrics are equally eloquent. It is a song of unrequited love, and part of a series of songs the troubadour wrote on the subject of courtship. The arrangement is by Efrén López.

Here are the medieval Catalan lyrics (translation is welcome!):

De la iensor qu’om vey, al mieu semblan,
On nueg e jorn velh e pens e cossir,
Mi vurlh lunhar, si·l cor mi vol seguir,
Ab tal acort que mais no·l torn denan,
Quar longamen m’a tengut deziron
Ab belh semblan, mas tan dur me respon
Qu’anc jorn no·m volc precx ni demans sofrir
Ai! belhna dona, ab belh cors benestan,
De bel semblan e de gent aculhir,
A penas sai de vos mo mielhs chauzir,
Si·us vey o no, o si·m torn, o si m’an:
Non ai saber ni sen que mi aon:
Tan suy intratz en vostr’amor prion,
Qu’ieu non conosc per on m’en puesca essir.
Pero, dona, si·us vis cor ni talan
Que·m denhessetz l’amor qu’ie·us ai grazir,
So es us mals don no vogra guerir;
Mas, pus no·us plai, al ver Dieu vos coman;
De vos mi tuelh, e non ab cor volon,
Quar res ses vos no·m pot far jauzion;
Vejatz si·m puesc ab gaug de vos partir!
Senher Bernart, no·ns part ren viu del mon,
Mas la belha que·m destrenh e·m confon
Tem que·m fassa per mort de vos partir.

For more information about the festival visit:
For more information about Evo, visit:

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.