San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Curtain Rises for Costa Rica’s Classical Music Festival

Hundreds of guests sat in the pews of San José’s Metropolitan Cathedral with their heads cranked toward the back of the room – toward the organist. Playing the gigantic church organ and delighting the congregation was acclaimed Russian pianist Kirill Gliadkovsky, who was performing as part of the opening weekend of the Credomatic Music Festival.

Gliadkovsky and several other musicians helped kick off the 20th annual Credomatic Music Festival. The concert series, which started Saturday and finishes on Aug. 22, began with performances in Alajuela, Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio. On Sunday, Gliadkovsky put on the first show in downtown San José inside the spacious Metropolitan Cathedral.

Festival director Jordi Antich introduced each concert piece. Gliadkovsky played Pachelbel, Clérambault, Handel, Bach, Liszt and Boëllman. The Russian musician has performed throughout the world, including the United States (where he also teaches), Mongolia, Italy and Japan.

The highlight of the show came when he was joined by his 11-year-old daughter Anastasia. Dressed in a gold-tinged dress, she accompanied her father in playing a movement by Bach.

The audience listened to each piece intensely, as if they were listening to a Sunday sermon. But when each song ended, the tranquil reverence for Gliadkovsky erupted into uproarious cheers and applause.

In addition to Gliadkovsky, opening weekend performers included the Spanish quartet Albéniz, Korean chamber music group Jeong Ga Ak Hoe, German-Costa Rican duo Hanstedt-Schöpp and U.S. a capella group Tenet.

Those musicians and several others, including the popular Vienna Boys’ Choir, will continue to perform throughout the country over the next two weeks. The festival will utilize a wide variety of venues, form San José’s National Theater to the Hotel Cristal Ballena on the southern Pacific coast.

“What’s most important to us is the high quality of these performances,” Antich told The Tico Times in July.

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