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“Music with Charm” and María Testa

Lookout Magazine Interview with María Testa, Director of the Center for Popularization of Mediterranean Music.

The Center for Popularization of Mediterranean Music is a Cultural Association founded in Marbella 11 years ago. Its director, María Testa, shas set herself the aim of disseminating classical music, as well as other kinds of music. All this through the concert season, known in Marbella as “the Music with Charm,” the Music Documentary Film season and the academic course of the “Little Mediterranean Orchestra.”

LOOKOUT: María, how did the idea of creating “Music with Charm” in a city like Marbella arise?

MARÍA TESTA: It is the city I’ve lived in for thirty years and I have always felt was lacking a stable musical life. So, being a musician that I am, I had to take some initiative. From this desire, Music with Charm was born and today I am proud to have created a cultural space especially dedicated to classical music that enriches the cultural life of the city and over the years, with hard work and effort, has become a cultural landmark on the Costa del Sol.

LO: Was it clear for you from the beginning that Marbella was the perfect place for this type of companies committed to the culture?

M.T.: Marbella has little classical music tradition. It is also a city where sporting activities and other types of music predominate. I knew this project was going to demand a lot of effort and patience, but I was ready and determined, and gradually, we started getting good response from fans and the public. Anywhere, and especially in a city like Marbella, we need a varied quality cultural offer, and within that music is fundamental. Just as our body is 70% water, our spirit needs at least as much music.

LO: How do you come up with ideas such as the latest to project a video on the life of the great artist Freddie Mercury?

M.T.: The classical season goes great with other genres such as tango, jazz and flamenco, both at concerts and in movies. In each film season, we dedicate an edition to other music and other artists who somehow have been linked to classical music. The figure that Mercury was took on a new dimension with the start of his collaboratio with the soprano Montserrat Caballé. This union is reflected in the film, masterfully produced by Rhys Thomas.

LO: Is it difficult to get partners and sponsors here in Marbella? Do you think that the city is increasingly more involved in cultural events?

M.T.: This is perhaps the most difficult part of the project. The city is generally not sensitized to culture. Sometimes I think that if I were running a sports project, in paddle or golf, it would be easier. We keep on going thanks to partners who are committed to the culture and music specifically for Music with Charm almost from its beginning in 2004. We do feel the need of a greater financial support, for the excellence of quality so characteristic for us requires a higher budget. We are working on this, trying to get companies from Marbella to become part of this project in the city. We hope to achieve it and to consolidate this excellence in Marbella.

LOOKOUT: María, we know that you also run courses. What are they and what kind of public are they meant for?

M.T.: In this eleventh season, we’ve started the course on HOW TO LISTEN TO MUSIC, as well as a few others. It is an activity designed long ago, having observed at so many concerts how the public, although without “knowing” anything about music, enjoys each show and always wants to know more. I usually offer a brief explanation about the works and composers before concerts and people appreciate it very much, because it helps them to listen to it. So, having taught many courses to musicians, I thought: “Why not organize a similar thing for non-musicians as well?”. This year, I have launched it with great success. So, we are back in September this year with the same course that ended a few days ago and was so successful.

LOOKOUT: Finally, what would you say the highlight of this season was? Why should no one miss a single concert of the next one?

M.T.: This season end in June and has exceeded our expectations of the public, with many events getting “sold out.” This space that we have created consolidates and also expands on a younger audience, which is very rewarding. The musical quality of our project is excellent and has earned us recognition from one of the most important figures of this century, the maestro Daniel Barenboim, who agreed to be the Honorary President of Music with Charm in 2009. We have also received recognition from Carnegie Hall Artists, the International Maria Canals Piano Award, the International Paloma O’Shea Santander Piano Award, and recently, the Cultural Award of Marbella 2015, a recognition of our work towards spreading the culture.
The artists who will join us in 2015/2016 are important figures in the international music scene, which will allow us to have a new season of great musical excellence. We want this to be our “hallmark.” We are getting there.

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