45 years!!! Even though group singing is a centuries-old tradition in our country, and even though our region has been the seedbed for countless great choirs, only the most enthusiastic founders of our Coral Competition ever dared imagine that we would still be going strong nearly half a century later! The beginning was hard, and our enthusiasm was tested to the limit.
Now times are hard again, and we all know that culture tends to bear the brunt of any cutbacks or belt-tightening measures; but with enthusiasm and, let us not forget, staunch support from our public institutions, I am confident that once again, this year’s competition will be an enjoyable and high-quality event.
The 45th Tolosa Choral Competition will feature 16 choirs from 9 different countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, the USA, Estonia, Finland, Indonesia, Russia and Sweden. This year we have established a new category: Chamber Choirs (choirs with between 20 and 36 singers). Eligible participants can therefore compete in this category, as well as in either the Mixed, Male or Female Choir categories. Also, and until the economic situation starts to improve, we will alternate annually between the Vocal Group and the Children’s Choir categories. Last year’s competition featured a selection of Vocal Groups, so this year it is the turn of the Children’s Choirs, a category which enjoys immense popularity. Nevertheless, when the economic situation so allows, it is our firm intention to return to the Competition’s original format.
During the course of the competition, the participating choirs will give nearly 70 concerts all over the Basque Country. Both at these concerts and during the Tolosa competition sessions themselves, which are attended by choral music enthusiasts from all over Spain, the overriding atmosphere is unique and extremely convivial – something much appreciated by visiting choirs.
Outside the competition sessions themselves, we have also organised a series of additional concerts. On 19 October a “topaketa” or meeting of Basque choirs will be held, organised by the Gipuzkoa Choral Association; on 2 November the “Camerata Reale” will give a concert courtesy of the Intermezzo Association; and on the afternoon of the 3 November, a moving concert will be held in collaboration with the Azurza brothers in memory of Joxelu Andueza and Iñaki Epelde.
We would like to reiterate, as we did last year, that the ideals which have underpinned this choral meeting for the last 45 years remain unchanged; it is these ideals that drive us each and every year to bring together some of the best choirs in the world and to encourage them to sing some of the works from our traditional repertoire in the Basque language.