Bilbao Choral Society
It was founded as the ORFEÓN BILBAINO in June 1886 and as the SOCIEDAD CORAL DE BILBAO on 3 August of the same year with the aim of promoting awareness and disseminating music in general and choral singing in particular.
From its earliest days, its national and international ambitions were clear, taking part in the following competitions:
- Gran Certamen Musical Internacional Ciudad de San Sebastián (1886)
- Concurso Internacional de Orfeones de Madrid (1887)
- Concurso de Orfeones de las Fiestas Euskaras de Gernika (1888)
- Concurso Internacional Coral de Barcelona (1888)
- Concurso Internacional de Orfeones de Santander (1890)
- Gran Concurso Internacional de Música de San Sebastián (1890)
- Grand Concours International de Musique d’Harmonie, de Fanfares et d’Orpheons de San Juan de Luz (1891)
- Concurso Conmemorativo de IV Centenario del Descubrimiento de América, Madrid (1892)
- Concurso de Orfeones de la Exposición Universal de Barcelona (1892)
- Grand Concours International d’Orphéons, de Musiques d’Harmonie, de Fanfares et d’Estudiantinas de la Ville de Biarritz (1893)
- Concurso Internacional de Orfeones y Bandas de Pamplona (1894)
- Grand Concours National & International de Musiques de la Ville de Marseille (1897)
- Grand Concours International de Musique, Orpheons, Harmonies, Fanfares Ville de Bordeaux (1898)
- Gran Concurso Internacional de Música Ciudad de San Sebastián (1902)
- Grand Concours International de Musique de la Ville de Bordeaux (1904)
- Concours International de Chant d’Ensemble de la Ville de Verviers, Bélgica (1905)
It was awarded First Prize in each one.
From 1905 onwards, the initial choir definitively and permanently incorporated female voices, establishing itself as a mixed choir, with two hundred singers and undertaking a new stage whereby it decided not to enter any more new competitions or contests. In this new stage, the SOCIEDAD CORAL DE BILBAO adopted the commitment to encourage Basque opera, promoting the world premieres of:
- Maitena, by Charles Colin (1909)
- Mendi Mendiyan, by José Mª Usandizaga (1910)
- Lide ta Ixidor, by Santos de Inchausti (1910)
- Mirentxu, by Jesús Guridi (1910)
- Deboika, by José Power and Pedro Martínez (1914)
- Amaya, by Jesús Guridi (1920)
Following several ups and downs and cycles of varying fortunes, it has reached the present day reaching levels close to perfection.
In 1973, true to its commitment to promoting awareness and disseminating music, the SOCIEDAD CORAL created its own Medium-Grade Conservatory, which currently includes over 500 students and 30 teachers.
In this contribution to musical teaching, the SOCIEDAD CORAL DE BILBAO formed its own Singing School which places great emphasis on collective work both vocal, with its different choirs, and instrumental, with a variety of groups.
The SOCIEDAD CORAL DE BILBAO has been directed by, among others, the following maestros: Cleto Zavala, Aureliano Valle, Jesús Guridi, Arturo Inchausti, Jesús Arámbarri, Modesto Arana, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Gorka Sierra, Iñaki Moreno, Joan Cabero and, from 2010 until the present day, Julio Gergely.
Its choirs have performed under the baton of such world-renowned orchestra conductors as: Ataulfo Argenta, Enrique Fernández Arbós, Bartolomé Pérez Casas, Wladimir Golscham, Juan Lamote de Grignon, Jasecha Horenstein, Sir Malcom Sargent, Odón Alonso, Enrique García Asensio, Antoni Ros Marbá, Miguel Ángel Gómez Martínez, Mstislav Rostropovich, Theo Alcántara, Michel Plasson, Víctor Pablo Pérez, Jan Lathan-Koening, Aldo Ceccato, George Prete, John Nelson, Uriel Segal, Josep Pons, Arturo Tamayo, José Ramón Encinar, Jerzy Semkow and Yutaka Sado among others.
The SOCIEDAD CORAL DE BILBAO has given the Spanish premiere of:
- Les Béatitudes (1907), Ruth (1908), Rédemption (1909), Rebecca (1909) and Psyché (1919), by C. Franck
- Faust (1908), by R. Schumann
- Das Liebesmahl der Apostel (1895), Parsifal (fragments) (1914), Die Meistersinger (1916) (fragments), by R. Wagner
- Song of the spirits over the waters (1901), by F. Schubert
- Christmas Oratorio (fragments) (1901), by J. S. Bach
- Norwegian Mythology Olav Trygvason (1901), by E. Grieg
- The Damnation of Faust (1909) by H. Berlioz
- St. Matthew Passion (fragments) (1912), by J. S. Bach
- A German Requiem (1913), by J. Brahms
- L'Arlesienne (1916), by G. Bizet
- Dances from Prince Igor (1919), by A. Borodin
- Requiem (1934), by G. Verdi
- Psalm XLVII (1943), by F. Schmitt
- Elijah (1953), by F. Mendelssohn
- Solemn Vespers of the Confessor (1956), by W. A. Mozart
- Carmina Burana (1960), by C. Orff
- Hodie (1997), by R.Vaughan-Williams
- Requiem (2003), by G. Ligeti
And the world premiere of:
- Cuadros Vascos (1931), by J. Guridi
- Castilla (oratorio) (1941), by J. Arámbarri
- Illeta (cantata) (1955) and Gernika (opera) (1987), by F. Escudero
- Gernika (oratorio) (1990), by G. Sierra
- Medea (opera) (1991), by M. Theodorakis
- Euskadi. Euskarari Abestia (1995), by C. A. Bernaola
From 1986 onwards, when it carried out a tour of Puerto Rico, accompanied by the National Orchestra of Puerto Rico, directed by Odón Alonso, it has intensified its participation in concerts and festivals not only in Spain, but also in France, Portugal and Germany, together with the leading Spanish orchestras, as well as foreign ones such as: the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the Portuguese Radio Broadcast Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Bordeaux-Aquitaine, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Capitole de Toulouse, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Aquisgran Symphony Orchestra, the Stradivaria Ensemble, the Paris Chamber Orchestra, The Warsaw Symphony, The National Orchestra of Lyon, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Lamoreux Orchestra. In 2006, in keeping with this international prominence, it performed with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in the Japanese capital.
The SOCIEDAD CORAL DE BILBAO has recorded the following records:
- Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramírez, alongside the Salvé Choir, the tenor José Carreras and with Ariel Ramírez himself at the piano. Conductor, José Luis Ocejo.
- Herodiade by Massenett, with the National Orchestra of Capitole de Toulouse. Conductor, Michel Plasson.
- Alegrías by A. García Abril, with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, Víctor Pablo Pérez.
- Goyescas by E. Granados, with the Orchestra of Cadaqués. Conductor, Gianandrea Noseda.
- Agur Jaunak (Basque music by various composers) with the National Orchestra of Capitole de Toulouse. Conductor, Michel Plasson.
- Amaya by J. Guridi with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, Theo Alcántara.
- El Caserío by J. Guridi with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, Juan José Mena.
- Así cantan los chicos by J. Guridi with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, Juan José Mena.
- Sorozábal (various works by P. Sorozábal) with the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, Christian Mandeal.
- Turandot de G. Puccini, with the Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor, Alexander Rahbari.
- Requiem de G. Verdi, with the Spanish Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor Pascual Osa.
- Concierto Conmemorativo del XXV Aniversario de la Constitución Española (Spanish, European and South American religious music). Conductor, Gorka Sierra.
- Arrupe musical by Gontzal Mendibil, with the Orfeón Donostiarra and the Ludvig Symphony Orchestra. Conductor Juanjo Ocón.
- Gernika by F. Escudero, with the Euskadi Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, José Ramón Encinar.
In recent years, the SOCIEDAD CORAL has received the following awards:
- Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts (1986)
- Medal for the Centenary of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Bilbao (1986)
- Medal for the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation of UNICEF (1996)
- Named as Joint Member by the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País (1997)
- Andrés de Mañaricua y Nuere Award granted by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia (1998)
- Sabino Arana Foundation Award, in the Society category (2001)
- Medal of Honour from the Real Academia de las Bellas Artes de San Fernando (2005)
- Gold Medal from the Villa de Bilbao (2007)