in David’s words…
The final concert of the Emerson Europe tour took place in a city new for us, but not new for Spain by any means. The city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque province of Álava, sits about one hour by car south of Bilbao, on Spain’s north coast. It was founded in the 12th century and grew out of its central section, still the most charming neighborhood, which sits above the surrounding larger city.
Spanish and Basque are the main languages of the region. All signs, menus, concert programs and the like are printed in both. Basque has a unique sound and is only vaguely related to other languages. For example, the phrase for String Quartet is “Soka Laukoteak” but the words for violin and viola are the more recognizable “biolino” and “biola” respectively, while my instrument is a “txeloa”.
Maurice Ravel’s mother was from this region, and the musical influences, especially rhythmic, can be heard in Ravel’s music such as his Piano Trio. There is a street named for the composer in the town of Bilbao.
I walked through the charming Parque de la Floridaon the way to the concert hall.
The concert hall, the Teatro Principal Antzokia, is host to a many concerts and theater events annually.
The interior is configured like a miniature Carnegie Hall, with wrap-around balconies and elegant details.
After dinner in the old quarter, we descended into the famous Plaza de la Virgen Blanca where hordes of Saturday-late-night revelers were out in force.