The British on holiday think of the Canary Islands as the place to go for sun and sea, enthusiastically responding to its claims to have a constant temperature throughout the year. With splendid beaches of fine sand, the seven larger islands and a scattering of smaller ones, each has a landscape radically different from the others.The Greeks and Romans were aware of this archipelago of volcanic origins, and called it the Happy Islands, Garden of the Hesperides, Atlantida. Some historians (dubious ones?) have suggested that the legendary continent Atlantis was located here. The islands’ original population, called ‘Guanches’, are taller and have a whiter skin than most Spaniards. The islands have been part of the Spanish kingdom since the fifteenth century, and the ships of Christopher Columbus stopped here on their journey to discover the New World.
I came across the annual Music Festival the other day and discovered that, well established over the years, it will soon celebrate its 23rd.
year. From January 7th. to March 2nd 2007, the festival is mounting a rich programme of concerts, featuring some fine orchestras, eminent conductors and soloists from around the world but also from Spain itself such as the Orfeón Donostiarra, one of the most outstanding exponents of the Basque cultural scene. The Choir has a classical repertoire but at the same time, maintains strong folk roots, seeing itself as the voice of the Basque people. The Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and The Philharmonic Orchestra of Gran Canaria are joined at the festival by the Netherlands, Cologne, Helsinki, Munich and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, with an impressive array of conductors and soloists at various venues on the islands.
The organizers say they have three basic objectives for the festival . Firstly to enrich a tradition of music which began when the European opera companies stopped at the islands on their way to South America to the great advantage of the islanders.
Now 150 years old, the Las Palmas Philharmonic Society is the oldest in Spain, once having the privilege of Saint-Saens as its President. Secondly, the purpose of the festival is to give the Canary Islands a cultural and not just recreational image. Lastly, however, the festival does of course promote tourism and has the distinction of being the only international festival in the world that takes place in mid-winter!