Land of Musicians
President of the Generalitat Valenciana
A GREAT reason to be proud
The recognition of Llíria by Unesco as a Creative City of Music, which took place a year ago, was considered a great source of pride for the whole of the Valencian Community. We were aware of the special relationship of the people of Llíria with the music forged over many generations and the strength of the llirian musical entities, their ability to unite and germanize thousands of people and the constant work carried out over decades. The declaration made official what we already knew and valued, but it also helped to spread the image of the city around the world and project it into new areas, and we all congratulated ourselves on such a significant distinction.
A year has gone by since that very special event, twelve long months in which we have lived through very difficult times due to the devastating action of COVID-19 and its terrible collateral effects in many sectors, including culture. During the hardest days of the confinement that made us overcome the first onslaught of the pandemic, culture and more specifically music was for us a basic necessity, a resource that allowed us to go through those strange and convulsive weeks and to be able to maintain our hope when we reached the end of that long tunnel. Music cannot stop.
Despite the fact that circumstances make it advisable to take extreme security measures to avoid contagion, we cannot allow the different cultural sectors to end up being the ones that are badly affected by the crisis created by COVID-19. More than ever we must support culture, thought, knowledge, the arts and music.
We have to look for new means of dissemination to continue to bring citizens closer to music, to promote learning among the youngest people even more, to boost the activities of musical societies and to give all the initiatives that they carry out the relief they deserve.
Music must continue to be with us, forming part of our daily lives, and for this and many other reasons it gives me great satisfaction to join in these lines to commemorate the first birthday of Llíria’s recognition by Unesco as a Creative City of Music, while at the same time sending a cordial greeting to all the people who over time and with their constant dedication have achieved such a special distinction. I would also like to convey from here to all the and all the llirians my warmest greetings and best wishes for the future.
LAND OF MUSIC
To talk about Llíria is to talk about music. For those of us who make up this group of musical societies, as well as for those who live it from outside, it is recognised by all that music is a distinctive feature of the city of Llíria, both nationally and internationally, which over the centuries, has known how to cultivate and promote it among its people. For this reason, its entry into the unesco Creative Cities Network, in the ‘Music’ category, a year ago, came to recognise this immense musical heritage that defines the city of Llíria and that allows us to export this wonderful artistic, social and educational movement represented by the musical societies of the Valencia Region to the whole world.
With great exponents such as the Ateneo Musical y de Enseñanza Banda Primitiva; the Centro Instructivo Unió Musical de Llíria; and the Banda Musical U.D.P., Llíria is one of the municipalities in Spain, and possibly in Europe, with the highest percentage of citizens with musical studies and music lovers who actively participate in musical societies.
This is a magnificent example of this movement that is present in and supports our entire Community, and identifies us as a land of musicians and music par excellence. I always like to remember that, not in vain, the history of the Federation itself is strongly linked to the city of Llíria, because what happened 53 years ago now changed the history of our musical societies forever. It was 1967 and for the first time, the Festivals of Spain sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Tourism were held in the city of Llíria, with the Musical Union as organiser. In this context, on 10 September a meeting of directors of musical societies was held, proposed by the president of the Unión Musical de Llíria, Mr. Enrique Portolés, to deal with the problems of musical societies in their daily work and to discuss for the first time the possibility of setting up a federation to bring them together.
In these conclusions, written by the current Honorary President, Ángel Asunción, we find the genesis of a purely civil and associative movement. A movement, born out of necessity, which after months of meetings and encounters, finally crystallised in March 1968 with the creation of the Federación Regional Valenciana de Sociedades Musicales, naming the Edenese Antonio Andrés as its first president. Thus and here our history begins.
A story that we share with all our musical societies, and especially with those 22, such as the two in Llíria, which bravely committed themselves to creating an entity like ours. That is why, 50 years after that 10th September 1967, we at Federación wanted to pay tribute to those pioneers, to those men who, with their leadership, sowed the seeds of what is today a reality. And that is why we share the satisfaction of this declaration by Unesco and feel it to be our own.
Joining the Unesco Creative Cities Network is a well-deserved international recognition that can be a stimulus to consolidate this tradition and represent a place of learning and a school of coexistence and, above all, of values. Without a doubt, it is a recognition that positions us on the international scene as a unique movement in the world, and a further step towards the recognition of our musical societies as Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
President of the Federation of Musical Societies of the Valencian Community (FSMCV)
Llíria is a beacon for
for the cultural sector
It has been an atypical year for culture and for municipal management. Even you have gone through the Covid-19 yourself. What can you learn from this experience and what recommendations can you give?
The truth is that culture has helped throughout history to overcome adversity because it always represents an increasement of encouragement. We live in times when there are many social difficulties and it seems that, sometimes, culture may be left behind in public action.
In Llíria we must set an example because a society without culture does not advance. Intellectuals offer us emotions and help us open our minds. Therefore, in our city, we had to vindicate it and put it at the top of the public agenda, to support one of the sectors that is suffering the most from this crisis. My personal experience has made me think that I have been a lucky person because my surroundings have not been infected and we are also lucky to have access to a public health system with great professionals who care for us, which is a treasure that must be minded along with education and culture, because that is the only way for a society to progress.
Can music help fight against this pandemic?
Music is a true vehicle for brotherhood and peace in the world, and, on an individual level, it also brings many values. It has accompanied us throughout history, making us feel emotions and we embrace those memories to overcome adversity. Being a Creative City of Music, with all the actions that our musicians have projected, has served to achieve that harmony reaches many corners, and it makes music represent that great vehicle for human relations.
During this time, from Llíria, we have participated in many cultural and solidarity initiatives such as “Windows of Music and Hope”, recognised by UNESCO, “We R Culture” on behalf of the values of culture, or the audiovisual recording of the song “Work Song”, as a tribute to the workers on the front line of the pandemic.
UNESCO’s mandate is to work with the network of creative cities, but we also to have a twinning commitment with municipalities that are immersed in humanitarian crises and situations of adversity.
What does the title “Creative City of Music” granted by UNESCO represent?
It is a recognition of a tradition of more than 200 years, but, at the same time, it endorses the brilliant educational present that we have in Llíria and our solid cultural programme. Few cities have an agenda like the one we offer periodically with a multitude of activities. And it is not only a recognition for Llíria.
We feel the pride and responsibility of flying the flag of Valencian music in the most important international forums, where the name of our city is already beginning to sound strongly associated with a band tradition that, we hope, will soon also be recognised as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
What new opportunities does this mean for Llíria?
It has opened up endless new opportunities for our musicians, musical societies, companies and young entrepreneurs. Being immersed and in permanent contact within a network that includes very important cities all over the world, which also stand out for their musical strength, is extremely positive.
In a very short time, we have already collaborated on very interesting projects with Bogotá, Kansas City, Brno, Mannheim… It means that many doors are opening for international cooperation, cultural exchange, synergies… The main objective of this network is that culture serves to promote sustainable local development, thus promoting the Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.
This has been so far an atypical year that has restricted the planned programme of events. What scenario do you envisage to get things back to normal?
Empowering our musicians and artists is on our agenda, for they are the ambassadors proclaimed by UNESCO, beyond the institutions themselves. In Llíria, we have more than 1,400 professional musicians all over the world, which means that Llíria has an extraordinary potential. Our city is a beacon for the cultural sector, and we have the responsibility not to neglect it. Thus, all the activity we are promoting emanates from this challenge.
When we entered the phases of lockdown easing, we already promoted an event, “The Awakening of the Arts”, to promote the value of culture in times of crisis. Ever since, we have not stopped programming cultural activities, with all the necessary security measures.
What projects do you envisage to further develop “Llíria City of Music”?
We are working on different educational and cultural exchange projects. Both with Spanish cities, with which we are going to create an Artist-Residency, and with international cities.
This initiative stems from the second Meeting of Creative Cities in Spain and aims to create a residence in each municipality to host both local artists and artists from other creative cities, where there will be an exchange of knowledge. On the other hand, through our Conservatory, we intend to develop a training programme for the exchange of teachers and students with some of the cities in the network. We are also cooperating with the Turkish city of Kirsehir in a long-term project which, if all goes well, will be strongly supported by the European Union.
To what extent does the Edetanian society participate in this project?
We can proudly say that Llíria is a breeding ground for great creators and cultural professionals. For this reason, both individual artists and our local societies have become involved in this great responsibility of being a UNESCO Creative City, which opens up great possibilities for the development of its undoubted potential.
The Edetanian society is also committed to innovation and has been able to reinvent itself with great intellectuals who have made music the city’s main hallmark. Our wish is that the great support that the project has received from the society of Llíria, with music as its flag, will be extended to a wider range of artists, entities and companies to make Llíria a city of reference within the UNESCO network.
Finally, I would like to thank the magnificent welcome we have been offered by the network in general and, in particular, by the other eight Spanish cities, which have received us with great consideration in recognition of our historical trajectory.
CREATIVITY AND MUSIC FOR PEACE
UNESCO is mandated by the UN to contribute to building Peace in the minds of the men and women of the world. And, to this effect, it has been given four enormous tools: Education, Culture, Science and Communication and Information. If, together with World Heritage, Tangible and Intangible, there is an area of vital importance to contribute to understanding and Peace among the Peoples of the World, it is that which encompasses Creative Cities in all their facets. But, above all, in that which refers to Music as a universal cultural and educational expression that does not require translation into any language to be understood and that is capable of expressing all the human feelings that people can generate and feel, in each of its compositions and interpretations.
I have had the opportunity to closely follow all the proposals that the different Spanish cities have submitted for the Creative City nomination in the already more than two years that I have been at the forefront of the Spanish Embassy. And it has been a tremendous satisfaction to be the first to communicate to Llíria and its Mayor the recognition as Creative City of Music by UNESCO.
The inclusion of Llíria in this UNESCO Network is a recognition to Music, to Llíria, to the Valencian Community and to Spain. It is the recognition of more than a century of uninterrupted activity in one of the most democratic arts and cultural expressions of all, band music, that which is built from the bottom up, through vocation and the most altruistic and generous dedication, that which does not distinguish classes, professions, age or gender, or religious or political beliefs. That which is born of the People, the People make and the People cultivate and satisfy.
Llíria can now represent our land in the world, showing who we are and what we like to do. And it can, from its creativity, help us to build Peace and encourage other cities to help build it. A creative city is a city that builds and is never willing to be a slave. Congratulations.