Les Anxovetes is a group of havaneres created in Girona during the summer of 2014. They perform the traditional repertoire of these nostalgic songs referencing the sea and telling stories of Spanish sailors who traveled to Cuba. Since their creation, Les Anxovetes has attracted both young and old audiences by offering a fresh take on the traditional repertoire by being one of the few havaneres groups with female singers. Singers Tona Gafarot, Montse Ferrermoner, and Marta Pérez with guitarist Salva Gallego, bass player Xevi Pasqual, and sound technician Xebi Salvatella comprise the band.
Ivan Caro was born in 1990 in Urgell, Barcelona. He is a musician, a professor of gralla (double-reed wind instrument) and flute at the Escola Folk del Pirineu, and a member of various music groups such as the Orquestrina Trama i Rufaca Folk Jazz Orquestra. Caro has also worked as a promoter and coordinator of La Tasca Folk, among other cultural events in Alt Urgell. He works with the Esbart Ciutat Comtal and is a director and presenter for the radio show Canal Baridana on RàdioSeu.
Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials is the latest project of musician, composer, and educator Marcel Casellas, who has a long trajectory as a member of almost a hundred music groups. The formation of eleven musicians gets on stage with all the instruments of a cobla—a traditional music ensemble from Catalonia: tenora, tible, fiscorn, and flabiol, combined with voice, guitar, and percussion instruments from around the world. This versatile cobla presents Catalan rhythms such as the sardana, jota, ball pla, and rumba in a contemporary way.
Founded in 1959, the origins of Esbart Ciutat Comtal trace back to Clot de Barcelona, a neighborhood where a group of young people created a small dance group combining traditional Catalan dance and the Aragonese jota. Since then, the group has devoted itself to promoting popular dances and traditional festivals from Catalonia and other Catalan-speaking lands.
The group provides a dance school for both boys and girls that offers music and dance training as well as teaching about Catalonia’s traditional dances and popular celebrations. The school has four levels, based on the age of the pupils, ranging from the smallest to those ready to join the main dance corps.
Esbart Ciutat Comtal’s repertoire has become more and more theatrical: “Rhythms and Rhymes,” five pieces linked by rhyme; “Traditions in Dance,” a series of traditional dances from Catalonia and Valencia; and “Synthesis,” a choreographic compilation representing Esbart’s history.
The group performs all around Catalonia, as well as in other European countries such as France, Italy, Switzerland, and Poland. Its members also take part in the cultural activities it organizes every quarter, including guided tours, concerts, and theatre evenings. In 2004, they received the Barcelona Medal of Honor.
Espai de So is a research and ethnographic association based in Tortosa, a town by the Ebro River. It is comprised of Catalan and Valencian professors, musicians, and researchers whose work involves traditional music and dance. Besides their research, this institution advocates for activities that focus on teaching and promoting the ethnomusicological heritage of Terra Alta, Ribera d’Ebre, Baix Ebre, Montsià, Matarraña-Mezquino (Aragón), and Maestrazgo and Puertos (Valencia).
In addition, they promote a music group called Rondalla dels Ports, a music school of traditional music from the Ebro named Lo Canalero, and Ebrefolk, a campus of traditional music and dance from the region.
Joan Garriga & the Galàctic Mariatxis are four musicians who connect the festive music of the Romani community in Catalonia with other popular music genres, creating a dialogue between different groups. Besides rumba catalana, which developed in Barcelona’s Romani community, they include other genres such as reggae, ballenato, cumbia, flamenco, and balería. The musical diversity and energy in their shows strives to connect the audience in emotion. They are currently recording their first album.
Born in 1972, Joan Garriga is a Catalan accordionist and singer of rumba, cumbia, and fusion. He played in the fusion bands Dusminguet and La Troba Kung-Fú. According to an interview by Fernando Cruz, Garriga became a musician because of the impact that the Orquestra Plateria had on him.
Combined with a subtle embrace of electronics, Maria Arnal’s soulful voice and the dexterity of Marcel Bagés’ guitar bring Iberian folk songs to sold-out venues in Catalonia and abroad. In 2015, they released their EP Remescles, acoples i melismes, which reached Spain’s Top 10 singles of the year according to the music magazine Rockdelux. In March 2016, they released Verbana, recognized as the “piece of local art of the year” by Time Out Barcelona, the Best National Single of 2016 by Rockdelux, and Best New Artist by the Catalan press.
After working with field recordings, record libraries, and digitized archives in their EPs, Arnal and Bagés are now creating their own compositions, which can be heard on their debut album 45 cerebros y 1 corazón, released in 2017.
Pilar Planavila is an accordion player and teacher specializing in folk music from her region in the Pyrenees. She first became interested in this music at ten years old, when she formed her first group, Trementina Folk, which is now the duo Daura. She has studied at the Conservatory of Liceu in Barcelona and enriched her education in Basque Country. She has taken courses with premiere teachers and musicians such as Carlos Iturralde, Miren Iñarga, and Conrad Setó. Planavila is a member of the Sant Anastasi instrumental competition in the city of Lleida.
Yacine & The Oriental Groove is a Mediterranean rock-fusion band. They have toured Europe, North Africa, Canada, and the United States and have released three albums: Parabòlic (2011), L’estima venç la salvatgia (2013), Mediterranean Clash (2016).
Yacine Belahcene i Benet was born in Algeria and moved to Barcelona at the age of thirteen. He made his debut on stage with Cheb Balowski and, many tours later, he got together with The Oriental Groove. Greek musician Yannis Papaioannu directs the orchestration of the band, consisting of Massinissa Aït-ahmed on bass and gambri, Alexandre Guitart on percussion, and Gabriel Fletcher on the guitar, buzuki, and saz.
The twins Ramón Boquera and Félix Boquera, fishermen based in Palamós, harvest gambas (shrimp), a popular ingredient in Catalan cuisine. Born in Ametlla de Mar in 1966, the Boquera brothers joined a family of fishermen, becoming the fourth generation in their family to continue the tradition.
From a young age, they worked in the family fishing boat while while studying to become professionals. At the age of twenty-one, they bought their first boat, launching them into artisan fishing for twenty years.
In 2002, when the Fishing Museum of Palamós opened, Ramón and Félix joined as collaborators with workshops, guided tours, and marine crafts, which were then sold to visitors in the museum’s shop. In 2006, they started working on a trawler belonging to their family and opened up another fishing system: gamba roja (red shrimp) in the Mediterranean, an iconic product from the port of Palamós.
In 2010, they diversified their work lives: Fèlix began work with another trawler while Ramón followed his passion for cooking. After working in various restaurants, Ramón joined the Promediterranean Foundation (which also manages the Fishing Museum) as the captain of the Espai del Peix, a gastronomic space that hosts demonstrations and workshops of traditional marine cuisine.
Other than being a professional fisherman, Félix works at the Fishing Museum and at the Espai del Peix as an expert of fishing ranxos, a marine knots workshop facilitator, and a tour guide. Both brothers are experts and skilled lecturers on marine craft and traditional cuisine.
Born in 1957, Joan Farré i Oliver is a self-taught master Catalan basket maker, who lives and works in his hometown Folgueroles. In 2007, he received the diploma of mestre artesà (master artisan). He specializes in wicker, renovating this traditional trade through contemporary artistic applications. Besides old wicker, he innovates by employing new wicker in the design of parks and gardens. In 1984, he began a process of revalorization of the materials and basket shapes, adapting them for new uses. His creations are considered a transition between nature and construction.
One of his most recognized works is the roof of the pavilion of Spain in the Universal Exposition of Shanghai (2010) under the direction of the Italian Catalan architect Benedetta Tagliabue. He also participated in the preparation and conservation of the basket collection in the Museu del Blat in the Mas Colomer of Taradell. He teaches around the country about basket weaving and helps organize the annual Fira del Cistell de Salt. He is the president of the Catalan Association of Basket Makers and of the Federation of Associations of Artisans of Catalonia (FAAOC), established in the Poble Espanyol de Barcelona.
Born in 1958, Lívia Garreta creates trencadís, a mosaic technique popularized by Antoni Gaudí. She graduated from the University of Barcelona with degrees in fine arts and geography and history, specializing in art history. She undertakes various tasks such as creating mosaics for commissions, working on her personal art, and collaborating with the restoration and reproduction of mosaics for architectural spaces. In her studio, she employs techniques such as Roman mosaic, Modernist mosaic, trencadís, and contemporary mosaic.
Miquel Grima Mora is a sculptor and festive imagery maker from Olesa de Montserrant. Trained in fine arts at the University of Barcelona, he has a Modernist style, unlike most imagery makers in Catalonia who produce classical and baroque-inspired work.
Using materials such as carton, fiberglass, wood, and paint, he focuses on simplicity in his imagery figures. The civic calendar, which marks important celebrations and festivals in Catalonia, is central to Grima’s work. He has produced art for Christmas and Easter celebrations as well as Festa Major and Carnival. During Francisco Franco’s regime from 1936 to 1975, imagery art was forbidden; Grima’s work is helping revive the cultural tradition.
Born in 1954, Josep (Pep) Madrenas is a ceramicist from Folgueroles, Osona. His interest in ceramics started from a young age when he would visit St. Julià de Vilatorta, another town in Osona, to see the ceramic makers. For him, their work on the ceramics wheel looked like magic.
From 1970 to 1975, he studied at the Massana School of Barcelona. When he returned to Folgueroles, ceramicist Joan Capdevila encouraged him to make 250 pieces in a summer: “If you are able to make these 250, then you’ll be a ceramicist.” After that, Capdevila offered Madrenas a full-time job where he learned to make multiple ceramic pieces.
Years later, Madrenas became interested in high-temperature ceramics, contrary to the Catalan tradition. He trained with Elizenda Sala and Maria Bofill, who had turned their research towards East Asia. For Madrenas, their ceramics were “pure poetry”.
Madrenas has been featured in many individual and collective exhibitions. Among his awards, he has been given the mestre artesà (master artisan) diploma by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia). He currently teaches at the Escola d’Arts i Superior de Disseny Vic (School of Arts and Design of Vic).
Born in Lluçà, Barcelona, in 1969, Enric Pla Montferrer is recognized as a mestre artesà (master artisan) and sculptor by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia). He lives in Alpens, Barcelona, where he opened his own studio in 2000. He creates artistic blacksmithing projects and sculptures of small and large format.
He has studied in the Art School of Vic with the blacksmith Miquel Amblàs i Carbonell as well as with the sculptor Josep Plandiura at the Centre Internacional d’Art i Recerca of “La Rectoria” in Sant Pere de Vilamajor. He observes nature and his surroundings while studying Modernist artists, such as Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch, and Domenech i Muntaner. He worked on a restoration of a Modernist pantheon by Puig i Cadafalch, and he is currently working on a project as the coordinator of blacksmiths for the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudí.
Other influences include modern sculptors such as Chililida; Martin Xirino, who seems to portray wind in his work; Juli González, who was possibly the creator of modern sculpture; and Richard Serra, who he considers the contemporary sculptor with the most creativity and strength. He has learned and has created his own language and personal style thanks to them and thanks to the people in his life.
Eva Rosich is a nurse and trementinaire (“turpentine maker” or traditional herbalist) from Olot, a city located in northern Catalonia. Trementinaires traveled by foot for days, and even months, selling herbs and oils to “guarint i curant tots els mals” (heal and get rid of all ailments). This occupation rose in the ninteenth century, when men and women had to travel to wealthier areas to make a living.
Rosich’s love for nature and her surroundings started as a child; those same surroundings became the place she gathered ingredients to make her homemade soaps as a teenager. Although Rosich does not know of other trementinaires in her family, she knows that her maternal great-grandfather was as an adobador—a type of local doctor that employed his natural remedies to get rid of pains and to cure people. Her studies to become a nurse and a lab technician led her to work in Camprodon, a small town in the Pyrenees, where she regularly meets older women from the mountains who teach her about old remedies. Rosich has compiled much of this knowledge, which she hopes to publish in the future.
Roger Solé-Coromina is a stonemason from Vic, Osona. He started learning about stone while he was studying geology in Barcelona. Soon after, he realized that the stones found in cliffs caught his attention, as well as the natural rock formations for rock climbing. This lead to his career as stonemason, which happened almost by accident, since the first opportunity to fix a dry-stone (pedra seca) wall presented itself when he was rock climbing with a friend.
Today, Solé works as an artist and artisan on multiple dry-stone projects. He draws the ideal finished product on paper using pencils and watercolor, creating the blueprints and the estimated costs of each work. He also finds the stone himself and negotiates all the necessities that may occur during the process.
Jordi Traveria is a glass artist and ceramicist based in Olot. Today, his main focus is glass, which evolved organically –from his interest in ceramics. Traveria looks for the transparency in ceramics and the opacity in glass. He opened his studio in 2008, where he shares his project with Ariadna, his partner.
As a child, Traveria was inspired by his grandfather, a book binder. He asked him lots of questions, finding the tools and work very interesting. His curiosity bubbled during his childhood summer trips to the mountains, where he opened stones to search for hidden crystals. Now he sees no difference between work and free time—his dream was to work in a studio like his, drawing creating influence from the intellectual atmosphere in Barcelona and the volcanoes and landscape of Vall d’en Bas.
Traveria studied ceramics and art glass techniques in Barcelona. Now he collaborates with chefs, architects, and interior designers to keep his curiosity fresh.
Àngel Zamora is a baker and the founder of Forn La Fogaina, a bakery in Vall d’en Bas. He learned to bake bread from a British woman while he was living in Alpujarras, a natural and historical region of Andalucía. When he moved to Catalonia some years later, he started selling the bread in the market of Olot. When customers asked him about a type of bread he did not know how to make, he watched videos, visited forums and websites—turning his kitchen into the “lab of a crazy alchemist” and Zamora into a master baker.
Founded in 2011, Forn La Fogaina evolved from a small business that sustained a family into a cooperative with five members who are neighbors of Vall d’en Bas. The co-op produces organic, stone-milled flour for sourdough bread baked in a wood-fired oven. They opened a café shop with a place for children to play while adults read, eat, sip coffee, and meet with others. Although locals were not too sure of the project at first, they soon recognized the great quality of the bread and became loyal clients. Zamora aspires for La Fogaina to be like their sourdough, which keeps growing into more and more unexpected shapes.
Born in 1952, Josep Maria Contel is a photojournalist, chronicler, and cinephile. During his lifetime, he has lived in three different houses, all in Calle Verdi, Gràcia. According to him, the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona that he was born into was very different from the one today—he saw cows, cheese making farms, and chickens.
Each August, Gràcia celebrates the Festa Major, which dates back to 1817. The largest neighborhood festival in Barcelona, it goes on for eight days. The town gets crowded with people who enjoy a variety of activities, including the main attraction: the carrers engalanats, or decorated streets. The local associations organize a year in advance and select the themes that will decorate the various streets, and compete for the crown of best street or plaza.
Contel grew up surrounded by Festa Major preparations and celebrations since his father was the president of Calle Verdi and oversaw the planning of the street’s decoration. Before becoming fully involved as an adult, Contel filmed a documentary of the Festa Major in El Clot. Following the steps of his father, Contel served as the president of the Calle Verdi committee from 1998 to 2006. Since 1987, his street has won nineteen times.
Established in 1996, the Association of Festive and Popular Bestiari of Catalonia presents the world of the bestiari within the Catalan-speaking realm. This group of figures embodies both real and fantastical animals while performing at local festivities for processions, passacaglias, and diables performances.
Their objective is to provide information and technical-related help to the various bestiari groups, as well as serving as a research and communicative platform for creators, commissioners, and users. Nowadays, the Association is comprised of over 200 entities that represent almost 500 bestiari figures and over 6,000 affiliates.
Established in 1984, the Association of Groups of Geganters in Catalonia promulgates, preserves, and researches the realm of giants in Catalonia. This collective has over 2,000 giants, and includes over 20,000 people, grouped in 500 entities that work throughout the year. Besides Catalonia, they have partners in Valencia, Basque Country, Andorra, and the Balearic Community.
The association strives to strengthen the role of geganters (giants performers) in Catalan culture and disseminate traditional culture in the media. Every year they organize the Ciutat Gegantera de Catalunya (Catalan City of Giants), with performances, live music, and educational opportunities.
In 1985, they proposed the construction of their own giants named Cultura (Culture) and Treball (Work). Manel Casserres i Boix created the figures, and Maria Dolors Mas embellished them with embroidery. They weigh 165 pounds each, with emblematic Catalan symbols. These giants represent Catalonia and the association internationally.
Although the Association of Giant and Graller Performers of Oliana began in 1992, the tradition of giants in Oliana dates back to the late 1970s, when a household appliances company bought ten capgrossos (big heads) and a pair of gegants (giants) from the Casa Ingenio studio in Barcelona.
These two giants represent a queen and a king named after the patrons of the town: Àngels and Andreu. They have since been restored multiple times, including once to make the costumes lights for their wearers. Besides Àngels and Andreu, they commissioned the sculptor of festive imagery Francisco Cisa to create Flor and Junset in 1998. After the creation of Flor and Junset, Àngels and Andreu only leave the city for special occasions.
Established in 1813, the Colla Joves Human Tower Team from Valls, referred to as diables vermells (red devils), wear a red shirt and white trousers to symbolize the colors of the city of Valls, where castells (human towers) were built for the first time. These colors also represent the spirit of struggle, which defines them as a group.
Other names for the group include Colla Roser, Colla Nova dels Xiquets de Valls, Colla Xiquets de Valls (unified), and Colla la Muixerra. The different names correspond to sociopolitical changes, but since 1971, they have kept their current name. Under the name Colla dels Menestrals, they participated in the first documented performance of castells on April 3, 1814, in the courtyard of the castle in Valls.
Throughout their long history of name changes, the structure and composition of the group has stayed the same. The team’s accomplishments include the construction of a four-by-nine human tower (four base at the base, nine levels high) in 1999 and then a two-by-eight in 2004.
Formally established in 1947, the Colla Vella Human Tower Team from Valls dates back to 1801. The members of the team are referred to as the rosats (the pink ones), alluding to their pink shirts.
During the nineteenth century, they were known as the Colla d’en Salvador, Colla dels Pagesos, and the Colla de la Muixerra, and later on as the Colla Vella “Rabassó.” During the Festes Decennals de la Mare de Déu de la Candela in 1801, a ball de valencians (the antecedent of the human towers) featured various pillars during the procession to honor the Virgin of the Candelaria. This is not only considered the first performance of a human tower in Valls, but also recognized as the creation of the Colla dels Pagesos, providing the Colla Vella a rich history.
In 2016, they achieved a four-by-ten tower, which has only been achieved by two other teams.
The Diables of Igualada celebrate traditional culture from Igualada, a municipality located on the banks of the Anoia River. A group of residents particularly interested in traditional and popular culture first revived the drac (dragon) and in 1995 established this club to recover the diables (devils) as well.
The group has continued growing to almost a hundred members. Through the years, the diables have gravitated toward a more traditional style, with classic elements such as the outfits of Llucifer and Diablessa. They have also recovered the traditional Ball de Diables, performed during the Festa Major.
In 1998, they established a group of drummers to accompany the diables with music during their performances. In addition, they added a group of gralla players in 2007 to incorporate the Drac de Igualada (dragon of Igualada) into their dance performances as well as to accompany the fire bestiari (the dragon and the vibria) during correfocs and processions.
Each summer solstice in villages across the Spanish, Andorran, and French Pyrenees, community members carry falles (torches) down the mountainside, creating a serpentine ribbon of fire that is visible for miles. The procession ends in the town square, where the celebrations continue with song and dance around the resulting bonfire.
Marc Ballesté is a technician and researcher of the Department of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees of the University of Lleida. He is an expert in the various typologies of the falles and an advocate for their inclusion in UNESCO’s representative list of intangible cultural heritage. He works in the protection of this festivity, specifically in themes of transmission of knowledge, divulgation, and promotion.
Guillem Esteban is a diable (devil performer) and a board member of the Associació Cultal de Fallaires d’Isil.
Established in 2005, the Catalan Federation of Flower Carpet Organizations seeks to preserve and promote the catifa (flower carpet) tradition while also supporting its progression and improvement. In Catalonia, flower carpets have over two centuries of history through enramadas, floral art, and other modalities such as street décor and ornaments.
Its origins trace back to decorations in Roman houses during the spring, but it is also tied to religious expressions from the late nineteenth century. To bring a pleasant fragrance during the Corpus Christi celebration, members of the community used to create flower carpets for members of the procession to walk on, releasing the aroma.
Flower carpets in Catalonia combine the religious, the artistic, and the cultural. Although religion originally motivated their creators, the ephemeral art manifestations became an element of popular and traditional culture, binding people together through its historical legacy transmitted from generation to generation.
The flower carpets usually consist of flowers, petals, and grass, but they increasingly use materials like seeds, wood shavings, and coffee. Flower carpets present various motifs tied to the Corpus celebrations and relevant to the community.
The organization’s president, Vicenta Pallarès i Castelló, is a cultural and civic Catalan activist who was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi (St. George’s Cross) in 2015, one of the most prestigious awards granted in Catalonia.