Culture can be used to fight depopulation

Maribel Peralta greets customers at the bar with a wide smile.

Culture can be used to fight depopulation

Maribel Peralta greets customers at the bar with a wide smile. It's Thursday, May 26th, the second day in the spring edition Musica en Segura. Most of these customers came from the concert of Ensemble Ouranos, a French wind quintet, at Segura de la Sierra castle. This enclave, which hosts seven years later concerts by the festival of musical delicacies>>, is directed by Daniel Broncano.

Maribel, who has managed the Mirador de Penalta restaurant on Calle San Vicente for over 20 years, is the one at the entrance of this charming town, which is part of the network of "the most beautiful places in Spain". Everyone knows and calls each others by their names. The atmosphere is filled with accents from Spain's north and south, as well as foreigners. It also has the joy of friends meeting again year after year, ties that have been strengthened by Music in Segura.

Angel Hidalgo and Carmela Castellanos have been going to this festival for five years. They let the restaurant owner know. With the help of a friend from Jaen who is now deceased, the couple from Valladolid arrived in this part of the Sierra de Segura for the first time. The festival coincided with their visit to Cazorla, then Segura de La Sierra. We were going to only stay for two or three nights as we were just passing through. But we fell in love the music and the beauty of the area. Carmela recalls that there were not many people around and that neighbors allowed the musicians to stay in their homes. They were so happy with the experience that they continue to do it every year, bringing new friends.

Maribel was the host of an intimate fado recital that marked the beginning of Music In Segura. The couple continues to exchange impressions and stories. The decor was Portuguese-tavern style, with lanterns at the tables. The conversation includes an excursion up the hill, stopping to admire Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and a sunset at San Martin.

"Every year they surprise me with something new. In fact, we love the concerts at Orcera. Maribel's "ajoatao" is a favorite drink of ours. The couple also enjoys the opportunity to travel the region, including the Segura to Siles, the river Madera, and many other places.

Maribel is in the middle, with Carmela, Angel de Valladolid, and Maribel. / A.C.

Segura de la Sierra is home to around 150 people throughout the year. However, that number can be multiplied by four during the festival and even surpass 1,000 on weekends according to Pedro Galiano's calculations. This is the second generation of Comestibles Galiano's head. The store has been around for over 80 years and now works 200% more than usual. The owner confirms this, recognizing that such initiatives also provide a boost to local businesses, be they accommodation, shops, or restaurants. "Almost all of the clients I've had in this afternoon were foreigners," he said. Pedro says that although I don't speak English, I can manage.

Pedro Galiano has a grocery store in Segura de la Sierra. / A.C.

Segura de la Sierra's accommodation is mainly made up of apartments and rural homes, but for a month there was also a small hotel with six rooms in Jorge Manrique’s house. Casa del poeta is therefore modern, but still integrated in the local environment. It is built on part of the second Arab wall.

Ramon Lopez is the owner. He is also well-known in the area as the coordinator of El Yelmo International Air Festival. (FIA) for 15 years. Ramon Lopez is from Martena and was born in Barcelona. However, his long-standing relationship with Segura da Sierra dates back a long time. He bought a house in 1998 after "a crush" on it. However, he didn't live there for long as it was a second home. He was called by the Provincial Council in 2006 to coordinate the FIA. It was at that time that he met Virginia from Segura. The rest was love. They settled in Segura de la Sierra where they now live with their two nine year-old children.

Because their parents collaborated with Daniel Broncano from the beginning, they have offered their children a bed in the family's home. It was a common practice in the town at the beginning Music in Segura, when there wasn't enough accommodation. This has changed as the festival has expanded to other towns like Orcera and Beas de Segura. Accommodation is often reserved in nearby towns and Hornos every year due to high demand.

Ramon Lopez stated that the festival format was "very well suited" to the town from the beginning. These are not macro-concerts. They are sensory experiences in their own right with settings in nature, historical monuments like the castle of Segura dela Sierra or the Jesuit Church. It is also places where one wouldn't expect to see a concert of classical music or a performance of the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia (Orcera cooperative), or a floating piano ("Amurjo swimming pool", also Orcera). Lopez admits that Daniel is extremely daring and avant-garde.

It is important to consider the economic impact, and also the projections for Segura as well as the mountain range in general. We know it's good for people, and it comes to you in the end because it consolidates and fixes people and creates wealth. Ramon says that's a good thing. He emphasizes Daniel Broncano's vision and his team as people who, wherever you are, can promote this site.

Eloy Fernandez, a Cultural Manager and member of Musica en Segura's production team, is Eloy Fernandez. Galician from Santiago, this Galician did his master's intern here in 2019 and has continued to lend a hand since. His roles include assembly of sound and lighting equipment, logistics. During the trip between Huelga Urra and Cueva del Agua, when he was attending this newspaper, he wore a backpack containing Abraham Cupeiro instruments, as well as coordination tasks.

"The team is amazing. Although we are 16 people, it is hard to give a number because many people add up. For example, the neighbor who helps unload your van or the electrician from the cooperative who helped us tremendously yesterday. He emphasizes that people "apana" (as they are known in the Philippines) are important. Fernandez says that the team includes both locals and foreigners. Fernandez regards this as "key" since they have the best knowledge of the territory's resources and terrain.

Eloy, currently working for the Musical Youth of Spain, manages the national concert network. Musica en Segura is a landmark festival in rural areas, because it is linked to sustainability and values of environmentalism, according to Eloy. It is also known for its "quality" of proposals. The festival is an art form in and of itself. Despite the fact the proposals are super cool, it's the fact you can go on an excursion together with Abraham Cupeiro that gives it another meaning. He adds that he finds this wonderful.

Daniel Broncano's motto, "transform to preserve", is not a vain one. To bring life to small towns and prevent their disappearance, culture is essential. Music in Segura goes further. Its social concept is dedicated to bringing culture to the whole region by programming concerts in schools and nursing homes, as well as music therapy workshops.

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