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Jazz in Euskadi, notes remaining in every corner

Jazz en Euskadi, notas que se quedan en cada rincón
When the first jazz festival was held in Donostia, no one ever imagined that the Basque Country would become a permanent stage for this music from afar. More than 50 years later, the jazz-Euskadi relationship has become well-established.

There are three internationally renowned jazz festivals held in the Basque region. As if they were a musical combo, this trio of festivals, takes place during the month of July each year, smoothly passing the baton from one to another without any overlapping of dates: Getxo, Vitoria-Gasteiz and San Sebastian.


Getxo Jazz, in Bizkaia, hails the start of the summer tour. It emerged in 1975 on the initiative of a committee with few resources but great enthusiasm, and gradually went on to acquire more importance within the cultural life not only of the Basque town, but also of all jazz fans. At present, it also holds a band contest, which offers the possibility to lesser known groups to make a name for themselves, as well as the Third Millennium section, aimed at young people.


Then, the stage moves to Vitoria-Gasteiz. It has been held for the same number of years as Getxo and has even been acclaimed by the media, with The Guardian describing it as one of the 10 best jazz festivals in the world, The festival changes the appearance of the city for a few days, the hotels fill up and music captures the streets and squares. Despite having different locations, the Mendizorrotza stadium remains the epicentre for the large concerts.


Finally, the pioneer for all the others takes place, the Jazz Festival of San Sebastian. It dates back more than half a century. From its original location in the Trinity Square it has spread out throughout the city to theatres, streets and beaches. In addition to hosting the best jazz stars in the world, it has also acquired a commitment to new talent and, through a selection of local groups; each year it offers ten bands the chance to perform concerts.


These festivals have also left their mark on other aspects of daily life in this region. Proof of the acceptance by the majority of the Basque population of this type of music is reflected by the inclusion of jazz subjects in Musikene, the Basque Country's Higher School of Music. The Jazz Department of this prestigious centre, located in San Sebastian, offers studies even up post-graduate specialization levels.

Anyone interested in finding out what studies are on offer at this centre, can simply enter the website or attend one of the open days that take place during the months of February to April, free of charge, by registering beforehand at

At Musikene new generations of artists emerge in the classrooms, perfectly capable of continuing to offer their musical talent at these and other festivals around the world: the currency of music in exchange for a richer cultural mix.



Heineken Jazzaldia, Donostia-San Sebastián:

Getxo Jazz Festival:

Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival:

Superior Music Center of the Basque Country, Musikene:


Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier,  Centro Coordinador de Información y Documentación Juvenil de Euskadi

Published: Mon, 13/03/2017 - 10:52

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