Music and dance in Valencia is an integral part of the culture. Beats and rhythms play a central role on festival days and the city boasts a vibrant local music scene all year round with traditions that stretches back centuries…
From the concert halls of the esteemed Palau de la Musica that welcomes half a million people every year, to the intimate jazz clubs tucked away in the back streets, music is in Valencia’s lifeblood. Many prestigious Spanish musicians hail from the region, including classical pianist Josu De Solaun, Spanish composer and virtuoso pianist Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre and the Basque conductor, harpsichordist and pianist José Iturbi Báguena.
The Palau de la Música sits on the banks of the River Turia. It is the home of the Orchestra of Valencia (founded in 1943) and the striking art deco building – designed by award-winning architect José María García de Paredes – is widely considered to be the symbol of Valencia’s love for music. The Palau’s auditorium is known for its exceptional acoustics and it has played host to a collection of world-class classical music performances and welcomed iconic musicians including Barenboim, Celibidache, Mehta and Sinopoli. The decor is just as exquisite as the music, with orange trees growing inside the lobby complemented by the surrounding Turia gardens. Visitors from across the world also come for the pop and jazz concerts, as well as opera and ballet performances.
Traditional Valencian folk music and dance, with its origins in early Iberian, Roman and Moorish cultures, is still very popular in the city today, while ‘bandes’ – performing brass bands – are found in villages across the region and play a key part in festivals, even boasting their very own commemoration – the Certamen Internacional de Bandas de Música (International Band Competition) – which has taken place since annually since 1886.
Song and dance
But it’s not just the music that Valencia is famous for – the performing arts are also a key attraction. The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, part of the City of Arts and Sciences cultural centre, attracts visitors from all around to its opera, theatre, music and ballet performances. Aside from the annual music and opera festival, the Palau boasts a packed program throughout the year with operas and esteemed vocalists. The 2014-2015 season includes internationally acclaimed musical Les Miserables along with a series of orchestral, classical and zarzuela (folk-style opera) performances and a special Christmas program.
Elsewhere, the Teatro Principal hosts theatrical productions from across the spectrum, with Shakespeare’s plays, modern indie shows and musicals. While the productions are held in Castilian or Valenciano, the international acts don’t need language to be enjoyed, such as the passionate dance performances from flamenco superstar Cecilia Gómez. Traditional Valencian dances are also common in the city, such as the Brlea and the Fandango of Albaida.
From zarzuelas to jazz and orchestral masterpieces, Valencia’s music and entertainment scene is colourful and vibrant. And if you’re willing to travel for the love of the music, take a trip to the town of Algemesi, just outside Valencia, to see the Muixeranga. This annual street festival and performance of ancient street dances, incredible choreographies and human castles, takes place every September to honour the Virgin of Health and promises a truly memorable experience.