The Santander International Festival
The Santander International Festival was created out of the need to provide a complementary cultural activity for the foreign visitors studying at the UIMP (Menéndez Pelayo International University). It began in 1948 with a series of musical events held in the cloister of the Corban Seminary, in the atrium of San Rafael Hospital – at present the site of the Regional Parliament – and in the La Magdalena Peninsula.
In 1952, the Porticada Square was created thanks to the efforts of the maestro Argenta and the first director of the Santander Festival, José Manuel Riancho. For 40 years it was widely regarded as Spain’s “high music square”. The greatest dance and theatre artists of the 20th century have performed there. The Porticada Square was closed on August 30th, 1990 with a concert given by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the great Mstilav Rostropovich. It made way for the Cantabrian Festival Palace, opened in 1991, which became the main site of the International Festival, held during the month of August. The superb technical conditions of this theatre have helped to enrich the Festival’s offer by including opera productions and important ballets in its programmes.
José Luis Ocejo has been the Festival’s director since 1979 and under his leadership, the festival has branched out to the most outstanding and important places in the region, thus creating a cultural network which turns Cantabria into a great summer fiesta with one common denominator - the arts.
The Festival’s programme has always been highly appealing for the different sectors of the public, its aim to meet the needs of its most demanding fans as well as of all those who simply want to enjoy quality artistic events. For this reason, in all its editions, the Festival tries to achieve the balance between the most traditional shows and the most avant-garde and innovative styles, these being the characteristics which give it its identity.
The Santander International Festival, together with the Granada Festival, is the oldest of all those held in Spain, as well as the longest one - more than thirty busy and intense days full of music, dance, theatre, recitals, etc. In 2001, the Festival will celebrate its fifty anniversary, a fact which constitutes a milestone in its long life, and which helps to offer an original programme for a new century whilst, at the same time, preserving the respect for the traditional cultural and artistic heritage of our civilisation.