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50 things to do in Barcelona in 2014: music

Highlights of Barcelona's concerts and live music in 2014

© Xavi Torrent
Among the 50 great things to do in Barcelona in 2014 are so many concerts and live music events, you'll be buzzing all year round. Of course the massive festivals of Primavera Sound and Sónar are back, but you'll also enjoy smaller festivals of jazz, rock, electronic music, and classical music in only-in-Barcelona settings, and even a music documentary film fest.

Mahler's Fifth Symphony

Valery Gergiev takes the baton in front of the Mariinsky Orchestra for Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, at the Auditori. Generally considered to mark the beginning of the composer’s middle period, the Fifth Symphony shows “man in the full light of day,” as Mahler himself claimed. Valery Gergiev has devoted much of his activity to the study, interpretation and recording of Mahler’s symphonies, both with the London Symphony Orchestra and, as on this occasion, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Mariinsky.

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Until Thu Feb 6

25th BCN Guitar Festival

Now in its 25th year, the BCN Guitar Festival doesn’t stand still and has expanded to include not only classical guitar and established virtuoso performers, but an increasing amount of alternative bands and musicians. It has also become more international over time, and in 2013 featured stellar names like Eels, Ron Sexsmith, Lucinda Williams and Marisa Monte, among others. The festival has stayed true to its mission of offering an eclectic and cosmopolitan programme. With the pedigree that the festival has shown in the past in terms of both musicians and the level of musicianship, from flamenco master Paco de Lucia to the dazzling fret board acrobatics and wizardry of Paul Gilbert, this year’s edition is unlikely to disappoint fans of the world’s favourite six-stringed instrument.

Bach: Goldberg Variations

Acclaimed young pianist Alexei Volodin presents Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ at the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana. Having worked with orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and the NHK, the Mariinsky Theatre, and the London Symphony, and conductors like Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Marc Albrecht, and Semyon Bychkov, Volodin is ready to demonstrate that he is one of the great pianists of our time with Bach’s masterful take on the Baroque variations form.

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12 May 2014

Summer Nights at La Pedrera

Nits d’Estiu (Summer Nights) sees live jazz from local bands on the magical rooftop terrace of Gaudí’s undulating apartment block, La Pedrera (Casa Milà), in the shadow of his warrior-like chimneys. Concerts take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and the price includes a visit to the ‘Espai Gaudí’ exhibition and a glass of cava. A fixed tapas menu is also available. It’s a great chance to take in the essence of Gaudí and his most emblematic work, together with a large and varied programme of live jazz music. While the visit to the Espai Gaudí, a museum exhibition located in the attic of the building, uses audiovisuals, models and furniture to provide visitors with a fascinating introduction to the work of this unique architect, access to the terrace provides some of the most spectacular views of Barcelona available in the city in the cool of the evenings.

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Until Sat May 17

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)

The familiar sounds of Wagner’s stirring opera will ring out at the Liceu theatre for nine nights. This production by Cologne’s Buhnen der Stadt Koln organisation, with stage direction by Robert Carsen and music by the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu conducted by Josep Pons, features Anja Kampe and Eva Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde, Klaus Florian Vogt and Frank Van Aken as Siegmund, Irene Theorin and Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde, and Albert Dohmen and Greer Grimsley as Wotan.

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Until Tue Jun 3

Primavera Sound 2014

Fast stealing Sónar’s thunder, this four-day music festival is one of the best in Spain. Credit for its success is due to its range of genres. There are rafts of electronica acts, DJs and local bands, plus a record fair and the Soundtrack Film Festival. The first confirmation for 2014 is Neutral Milk Hotel, but the line-up in 2013 included Nick Cave, Blur, Tame Impala and the Wu Tang Clan. Another recent incorporation to the 2014 line-up is Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, who will be presenting their fourth studio album, the James Murphy-produced ‘Reflektor’, which sees the group departing somewhat from the epic and dark sounds that marked earlier works like their stellar debut ‘Funeral’ or 2007’s ‘Neon Bible’ to embrace hybrid dance rhythms and Haitian and Jamaican influences. Their appearance at the festival will be their only Spanish date in 2014. Other confirmed acts: Neutral Milk Hotel and Pixies.

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Until Sat May 31

Sónar 2014

The International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art (aka Sónar) is a must for anyone into electronic music, urban art and media technologies. Sónar by Day comprises multimedia art, record fairs, conferences, exhibitions and sound labs, while DJs play – it takes place in the trade fair area at Plaça Espanya, while Sónar by Night is out in the vast hangars of the site in Hospitalet. In 2013, the line-up included Kraftwerk, the Pet Shop Boys, Skrillex and Laurent Garnier. Confirmed acts for the 2014 line-up include Massive Attack, Richie Hawtin and Plastikman, as well as Four Tet, James Holden, Jon Hopkins, Oneohtrix Point Never, Evian Christ, Caribou, Matmos, Gesaffelstein, Downliners Sekt, Jessy Lanza, Nisennenmondai, Woodkid, Bonobo, Moderat, and I Am Legion. Featuring a mash-up of music, film and video, in the shape of everything from installation art, audiovisual concerts, and medialab presentations to DJ sets, Sónar is sure to attract once again some of the top names in the genre.

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Until Sat Jun 14

Cruïlla BCN 2014

Cruïlla snuck onto the scene in 2008 with an unassuming clutch of bands, before launching into something quite special two years later. Recent line-ups have included Cat Power, Iggy Pop, the Specials, MIA, Suede, Rufus Wainwright, Morcheeba and Cypress Hill, and there’s usually an impressive range of local bands, from the Pinker Tones to Muchachito Bombo Infierno and Macaco. Set in the sun-baked Parc del Fòrum, the festival attracts thousands of music fans who are keen to enjoy an eclectic and genre-crossing line-up of great bands and musicians in an outdoor setting for two jam-packed days, along with an ever-growing programme of additional on-site activities ranging from circus acts and games to workshops of all types, and stands run by a variety of social foundations.

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Fri Jul 11 - Sat Jul 12

Festival Jardins de Pedralbes

Launched to great acclaim in 2013, when acts included Crosby, Stills & Nash; Antony & the Johnsons; Lana del Rey; Roger Hodgson, and Earth, wind & Fire, this new festival takes place al fresco, among the cedar and cypress trees of the gardens of the Palau Reial (Royal Palace) in Pedralbes. Look out for the pergola designed by Gaudí, parabolic in shape and covered with climbing plants, as well as the Hercules fountain, with a forged iron dragon head, which was also designed by Gaudí and was forgotten about until its rediscovery in 1984. So, it’s a good idea to arrive before the concerts begin in order to enjoy in equal measure the music and the garden’s treasures, among which are a collection of trees, including 23 Himalayan cedars, and the Royal Palace, which is the Spanish royal family’s official residence for their trips to Barcelona.

Festival Piknic Electronik

Family-friendly, open-air festival of electronic music on Montjuïc every Sunday afternoon in summer. Something more than just a picnic, Piknic Electronik aims at reconciling two apparently contradictory worlds and provide a way to bring family and friends together in a pleasantly green environment while enjoying electronic music. Activities designed specifically for kids can include anything from skateboarding lessons and inflatables to hip hop classes and recycling workshops.

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50 great things to do ... by season

Winter

Highlights of Barcelona's winter 2014 events 080 Barcelona Fashion Running over five days, 080 gives the Barcelona fashion scene a biannual shot in the arm, thanks to the support of the Generalitat de Catalunya. It primarily showcases local designers, from up-and-coming ateliers such as Natalie Capell to globally big-hitting brands such as Mango. The fashion-focused fair also tries to be a living reflection of all of the bubbling creativity that exists in the city – a creative vivacity that finds expression in the designers from all over the world who have made their home and set up their businesses in trend-setting neighbourhoods like the Born, the Raval and the Barri Gotic. As well as providing an unbeatable showcase for new and upcoming trends in the city, 080 Barcelona Fashion also aims to transform the show into a benchmark event in terms of the design, production, distribution and commercialisation of the products emerging from the sector, as well as building closer ties with industry and with NGOs and Barcelona’s social fabric. Davant l'horitzó The Fundació Joan Miró is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the horizon as a recurring element in the history of modern painting from the 19th century to the present. The exhibition aims to highlight the defining power of the horizon, delve into its enigmatic duality, review the changing nature of its representation, and reflect on its role as a paradoxical mirror of the mutations of history and culture. The title of the show i

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Spring

Highlights of Barcelona's spring 2014 events Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes One of this year’s successes at New York’s MoMA, this exhibition of the work of one of the most respected architects of the 20th century transfers to Barcelona’s CaixaForum. Covering the full range of his career, the exhibition will not look at his creations and ideas, via photographs, sketches and models of some of his large scale projects, but also his life – through a selection of documentary footage. All of these myriad elements allow us to follow and understand the way in which Le Corbusier envisaged and imagined his environment. The exhibition takes us from his early watercolours and drawings, made on his travels, to his landmark work as part of the International Style. It also allows us to appreciate the sheer breadth of his interests, encompassing his work as architect, interior designer, artist, city planner, writer, and photographer, presenting everything from his theories of urban planning, which are still influential today, to his designs for furniture and even tools. 25th BCN Guitar Festival Now in its 25th year, the BCN Guitar Festival doesn’t stand still and has expanded to include not only classical guitar and established virtuoso performers, but an increasing amount of alternative bands and musicians. It has also become more international over time, and in 2013 featured stellar names like Eels, Ron Sexsmith, Lucinda Williams and Marisa Monte, among others. The festival ha

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Summer

Highlights of Barcelona's summer 2014 events Post-Picasso: Contemporary Artists' Response to His Art The Museu Picasso will host an exhibition of 80 works by artists from around the world, in a look at the ways in which Picasso’s work influenced, and was explored by, later generations. These pieces will include work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rineke Dijkstra, Rachel Harrison, among many others. For them, as well as for a remarkable and hitherto unacknowledged variety of artists from all around the world, from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America, as well as from Europe and North America, who are working in a range of mediums that run from video and photography to painting and sculpture, engagement with Picasso’s work has provided a liberating and polyvalent model that allows them to address the phenomena of the globalization and diversification of contemporary art in our century. Summer Nights at La Pedrera Nits d’Estiu (Summer Nights) sees live jazz from local bands on the magical rooftop terrace of Gaudí’s undulating apartment block, in the shadow of his warrior-like chimneys. Concerts take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and the price includes a visit to the ‘Espai Gaudí’ exhibition and a glass of cava. A fixed tapas menu is also available. It’s a great chance to take in the essence of Gaudí and his most emblematic work, together with a large and varied programme of live jazz music. While the visit to the Espai Gaudí, a museum exhibition located in th

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Autumn

Highlights of Barcelona's autumn 2014 events European Society of Cardiology Congress Europe’s major event for medical professionals in the cardiovascular field takes place every summer in the trade fair zone in L’Hospitalet, on the outskirts of Barcelona. The event brings together thousands of visitors, who can choose from among more than 500 talks and conferences, looking at all the latest research. The 2014 edition is putting the spotlight on the theme of ‘Innovation and the Heart’ and offers Clinical Practice, Experts and Abstract Sessions on guidelines, the most challenging cases faced by leaders in the field, and controversial topics in the discipline. Attendees will also have the opportunity to find out about the latest developments in scientific research and even to ‘Meet the Legends’ in a programme designed to provide younger practitioners with a unique opportunity to interact with some of the key figures who have shaped cardiology as we know it today. 2014 Basketball World Cup The celebration of the Basketball World Cup in Spain in 2014 will give Barcelona, one of the six host cities, alongside Bilbao, Granada, Gran Canaria, Madrid and Seville, another opportunity to demonstrate its ability to organise world-class sporting events. The main venue for the event, which will run from the 30th of August to the 14th of September, will be the Sant Jordi arena, with capacity for 17,960 spectators. Among the teams competing for the ultimate prize in world basketball will be S

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