The beginings of flamenco festivals
We know of many flamenco festivals nowadays, but how and why were they born, who were their first organisers? We have done some research and we tell you about them in this new post on our blog.
The exact date of the birth of flamenco festivals is around the 1950s, when the first shows began to be organised for a larger audience in which flamenco singing was the protagonist and the intelligentsia became concerned with gypsy-Andalusian singing.
The first festivals were a series of flamenco recitals that took place in Seville in the mid-1950s. In 54, at the same time as the International Festival of Music and Dance, the idea arose of organising a flamenco singing recital in Seville. This idea was born at a meeting held at a party in the casino of the Aéreo Club, which was attended by people such as Manuel Bermudo, Pérez Suárez, José Muñoz Orellana and Joaquín Romero Murube. At this meeting, topics such as the possibilities of Seville becoming the headquarters of the flamenco art movement were discussed, something that was already beginning to be felt. As a result of this meeting, four recitals were held in different areas of Seville: Triana, la Trinidad, calle Arrayán and the Patio de Banderas. Manuel Vallejo, el Posaero and la Malena took part in them. It was there that a new cantaora, la Paquera de Jerez, became known. The success was spectacular.
After this first flamenco festival, there were other festivals in the María Luisa Park, also in Seville.
Pioneering flamenco festivals
One of the pioneer cities in flamenco festivals was Utrera, in the province of Seville. In 1955, the Hermandad de la Buena Muerte y Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza de los gitanos (Brotherhood of the Good Death and Our Lady of Hope of the Gypsies of that city organised the first one to raise funds for the Brotherhood. Given its success, the second year the organisers looked for a larger venue and set up a tablao, and the festival took on greater importance.
Another of the pioneering festivals was that of Córdoba. There, Ricardo Molina and Antonio Mairena supported the idea that the festival should take the form of a competition. After this first contest, new gypsy and flamenco talents began to emerge in Córdoba, which became an important point in the organisation of these festivals and contests.
In the 1960s, the festivals spread throughout most of Andalusia. In 1963, the Mairena festival emerged, organised by the cantaor Antonio Mairena, and held in his hometown, Mairena del Alcor. The proceeds raised were used to attend to the needs of the Hermandad Sacramental y de Nuestro Señor San Bartolomé (Sacramental Brotherhood and Our Lord St. Bartholomew's Brotherhood). The Antonio Mairena singing festival was repeated the following year and the Town Council ended up financing it, making it one of the first in Spain.
Around the same time, another festival appeared in Morón de la Frontera, the El Gazpacho Andaluz festival, also organised initially for charitable purposes, as the proceeds were given to the Hermanitas de los Pobres (Little Sisters of the Poor), much loved in the town. These festivals were followed by many more: the Reunión de cante de Puebla de Cazalla, the Festival de Joaquín, the Festival de la Paula de Alcalá, the Caracolá de Lebrija, etc.
Flamenco festivals today
The organisation of flamenco festivals is currently making a comeback after the obligatory stop as a result of COVID-19 and at ALL FLAMENCO we are already taking good note of this with the broadcasting of absolute premieres such as the most recent ones at the XXVI Festival de Jerez.