Letter from the director

The setting is Paris at the beginning of the 20th century and France is experiencing a lively and inspiring atmosphere. It's a time when scientific and material progress, artistic and cultural sensitivity, and civic education come together to produce original and concrete results that have led a nation to the height of its power. Paris is the beautiful capital, full of air, light and space, with its characteristic boulevards, shops and cafés. No other city can claim to be the center of such significant cultural processes and movements; from a musical point of view, Paris has it all.


The most important events in European music have found it to be the perfect setting. This is the case of the premiere of Debussy's Pelléas and Mélisande (1902), of Strauss's Salomé (1907), of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (1910), of Ravel's premiere of L'heure espagnole [The Spanish Hour], and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913), as well as the Russian Ballet seasons of Diaghilev. There are countless music institutions: Théâtre National de l'Opéra, Opéra-Comique, La Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Concerts Colonne, Concerts Lamoureux, the Conservatoire, Société Nationale de Musique and Schola Cantorum.


Newspapers and the press in general actively cover musical life in the city. From Le Temps to Le Figaro, from Le Journal to Le Matin, dedicate a column to music. Moreover, Le Ménestrel, Le Courrier Musical, Le Monde Musical, Musica, La Revue Musicale, and Le Mercure Musical are all magazines that specialize on the subject matter. Salons, cafés, and libraries often become the stage of different concerts, where music coexists with other art forms: poetry, painting, theater, and literature. In such a creative context, French music finds the ideal conditions to embark on innovative and original excursions that would eventually bring about the evolution of the musical language of the 20th century.


We have mentioned Debussy and Ravel, two pillars of the time, but we cannot forget Roussel, Chasson, Caplet, Franck, Satie, Hann, Saint-Saëns, among others. Each of them, with their own poetry and language, contributed to make this a unique moment in history. The 11th edition of the Cartagena International Music Festival pays homage to this exceptional time in French cultural music history by following its tradition and preparing programs that highlight the wealth of the period, as well as inviting artists that specialize in the performance of said repertoire. This is the case of Les Siècles, under François-Xavier Roth, of Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Gautier Capuçon, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Juliette Hurel, Emmanuel Ceysson, Quatuor Voce, and Richard Galliano, among others. The same prestige is afforded to the Latin American series, which focuses on the influence of French music in some of its tendencies. The interpreters of this series include Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Quinteto Villa-Lobos, Renato Borghetti, and many others.


This will be our way of contributing to the bilateral cooperation agenda known as the "Year Colombia-France Year 2017." We would especially like to acknowledge the efforts of the French Institute and the Colombian Ministry of Culture who have helped us make this program a reality, and we look forward to a successful outcome for the important bilateral initiative that has begun. I'd like to say a few words on Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", a special project featured on this edition. This is an ambitious joint production with the Spoleto Festival dei 2Mondi (Italy) that brings together Italian and Colombian artists in a refined and grand performance. The staging, costumes, and decoration used during the first mise en scène of this Opera in June 2016 in Spoleto will travel from Italy to Cartagena. All of this forms part of a great endeavor that we hope will be enjoyed by Colombian and foreign audiences alike, as well as create a positive impact on the Festival's international projection.