Habaneras and Polyphony International Contest
Torrevieja, one of the better known summer holiday destinations in Spain’s southeast, is also host to an internationally renowned contest of choral groups specialized in the genre of Habaneras. In the past years, another category has also been introduced to the audience’s enjoyment, the Polyphonies, and the event has changed its character from National to International.
The origin of the Habaneras and Polyphony International Contest is not clear, but musicologists believe that it can be related to the salt production that has been since ancient times an important source of income for Torrevieja. In the XVIII and XIX centuries, the commerce with Cuba was very intense, and it seems that the sailors brought these songs on their way back to Spain (the name Habanera derives from Havana, the capital of Cuba). This seed fell on fertile ground, and Habaneras have been associated with the town of Torrevieja ever since. In 1955 took place the first official contest as we know it today, being held in the premises of the Eras de la Sal, an old salt post and warehouse by the seaside, now know as the Cathedral of the Habaneras. In 1990 the contest opened up to international choirs, becoming an international event that attracts hundreds of tourists every year. Shortly after, in 1994, the contest added a new category, the Junior Habaneras Contest, also of international reach.
Around 20 choirs participate each year in the Habaneras and Polyphony International Contest, of which almost ninety percent are amateur or non-professional ensembles. The conductors, however, are all acclaimed professionals in the music world. Every year there is a compulsory Habanera that all participating ensembles must perform. The local bands and choirs perform on the last evening, out of competition. The winning choirs in the past editions have a very diverse origin, so it is not strange to see a Russian, Indonesian or German choir get the first prize in many categories.
If you find yourself spending your holidays around the Alicante area, and are a music lover, you shouldn’t miss this central event in the Torrevieja festivity calendar.