Escorted by the country’s highest mountains and the sea, Santiago de Cuba, the most Caribbean of all Cuban cities, has remained true to a legacy that goes back to the 18th century when the priest Esteban Salas, a native of Havana, composed Christmas carols, hymns and shepherds’ plays (pastorelas) for his cathedral. These religious compositions are the first known written musical documents in Cuba.
Santiago’s choral tradition is fueled by choirs founded by Spanish immigrants and their descendants, and reaffirmed by the continuing work of Maestro Electo Silva, who in 1961 founded the National Choir Festival. Eventually, thanks to the participation of choirs from different countries, the festival, which is held every two years, became international.
An intensive program of morning and evening concerts in theatres, schools, factories, hospitals and public squares will characterize the five days of the festival. The most awaited concert, however, is the one held during the closing ceremony in which all the participating singers perform at Santiago de Cuba’s principal plaza.
Honoring this tradition, in 1961 Electo Silva, who has been for decades director of Orfeón Santiago, organized the First Choir Festival. Throughout the years, choral groups from different countries have also participated in the festival together with their Cuban counterparts, winners at prestigious international competitions. An intensive programme of concerts in theatres, schools, factories, hospitals and public squares characterizes these days in which audiences can enjoy the best of the repertoires of choral music.
Venues: Dolores Concert Hall, Santiago de Cuba