A Brief Introduction to Valencia's Thriving Orchestra Scene

Palau de la Musica, Valencia
Palau de la Musica, Valencia | Photo courtesy of the Palau de la Musica
Photo of Clare Speak
Writer3 March 2017

Valencia has a well-deserved reputation for culture and creativity, and it’s a truly exceptional city for lovers of classical music to visit. Outdoor concerts and festivals are popular during the summer months, and the city is home to not one but two esteemed classical concert venues. Because of this, the city attracts the biggest international names. This, and the fantastic reputation of the city’s own orchestra, means the classical music scene here is very much alive.

The Palau de la Musica, set in the green gardens of the former Turia river bed, is the city’s main classical venue. It welcomes half a million people every year to enjoy classical concerts, as well as opera, dance and other performing arts. The striking art deco building, designed by award-winning architect José María García de Paredes, is widely seen as the symbol of Valencia’s passion for music. The Palau’s auditorium is known for having great acoustics, and has hosted musicians like Barenboim, Celibidache, Mehta and Sinopoli. The Palau de la Musica is famously home to the Orchestra of Valencia, founded in 1943.

The city’s other high-profile classical venue is the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, an impressive, modern building which is part of the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences complex. With a huge seating capacity second only to that of the Sydney Opera House, it’s said to be one of Europe’s premier classical music venues.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia | © Craig Cormack/Flickr

The city’s famous orchestra may be the jewel in the crown, but Valencia is home to any number of smaller orchestras and it’s very common for children here to learn classical instruments. Almost every town or village in the Valencia region has its own orchestra, often small and proudly run by volunteers. The tradition is often passed down through the generations, and it’s not unusual to find fathers, sons and even grandsons playing in the same orchestra.

It comes as no surprise then to find that many renowned 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.

One of the highlights of the classical music lover’s calendar in the city is the International Music Band Contest of Valencia, a music festival that’s been held here in July every year for more than a century. For this festival, the the Palau de la Musica invites some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world, giving Valencian people yet more exposure to some of the greatest classical musicians in the world.

But if you’re not visiting in July, both the Palau de la Musica and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, as well as any number of smaller concert venues around the city, offer a varied programme of events year-round. Plus, on a walk around the city centre, it’s not uncommon to find a young street orchestra filling the air with music on a warm summer’s night. So don’t just take our word for it, experience the magic of seeing a live orchestra for yourself on your next trip to Valencia.

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