Being there in the plaza in the presence of the best musicians and interpreters of Colombian Andean music was something I will never forget.

John Miller

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The Mono Núñez Festival: A Musical National Heritage

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  • Place: Ginebra, Valle del Cauca
  • Region: Pacific
  • Date: May 30 - June 2, every year
  • Duration: 4 days
The Mono Núñez Festival /Pic. http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninaclandestina/696982918/.

The Mono Núñez Festival /Pic. ninaclandestina

The Mono Núñez Festival is the most important event in Colombian Andean music and takes place in the town of Ginebra, (in the department of Valle del Cauca), just an hour away from Cali. It brings together the greatest and most virtuoso composers and interpreters of this genre of folk music.

The festival is the perfect event for the fusion of tradition and modernity and constitutes a display of the musical qualities of young Colombian interpreters and composers.

The event is also the most important contest of this kind of music and a pad for launching artists into the international arena. Several former contestants have been nominated to Grammy Latino awards in the category of traditional music.

This festival is a time when tradition and modern life come together in a demonstration of the musical talent of interpreters and composers.

History of the Festival

The festival takes its name from a great composer and musician who specialized in a typical Andean Colombian instrument: the bandola, a small pear-shaped string instrument. The composer’s name was Benigno Núñez; his nickname, Mono.

The festival has been celebrated annually since 1975 in the municipality of Ginebra, in the department of Valle del Cauca and was declared cultural heritage of the nation in 2003.

Interesting information

  • Contestants come from the entire Andean region of Colombia (Antioquia, Boyacá, Caldas, Caquetá, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Huila, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Quindío, Risaralda, Santander, Tolima, and Valle del Cauca).
  • The main rhythms of the festival are the following: bambuco, vals, mazurca, redova, pasillo, danza, chotís, guabina, rumba carranguera, vueltas antioqueñas, merengue carranguero, caña, gavota, sanjuanero, son sureño, marcha, rajaleña, intermezzo, bunde, polka, torbellino, and fox.
  • The most used musical instruments come from the tradition of the Andean region and go by the following names: tiple, bandola, guitarra, tiple requinto, tambora, flauta de caña, chucho, quena, carraca, quiribillo, zampoña, cuatro, charango, guache, capador, puerca, and palo de agua.

Festival Settings

The festival lasts four days, during which music is played from nine in the morning until two in the morning of the next day in six different settings:

Mono Núñez Colombian Andean Music Contest
This is the most important contest for musicians in this musical genre; the sole fact of having attended the festival serves as a future presentation card.
Unpublished Works Contest
The category of unpublished works was created to stimulate the creativity of authors and composers. Three vocal and three instrumental works classify for this competition.
The Plaza Festival
PThis outdoor event takes place simultaneously with the above on a large wooden platform in Ginebra’s main park. Close to 10,000 people attend it to listen to the main artists of the contest, the winners of former years, and special guests.
Encounter of Autochthonous Expressions
Traditional and empirical artists interpret the music that is passed down from generation to generation.
Concerts in Dialogue
This is a sort of musical forum designed for establishing direct communication between the public and the artists. These concerts in dialogue take place in small settings and allow interaction with the contestants and the sharing of creative processes and the music history of the Andean region.
The Mateo Ibarra Conde Encounter
This is the only setting in the country that brings together child interpreters of Andean Colombian music from all over the country.

Aside from being a musical show, the Mono Núñez festival is an exhibit of musical instruments and fine handicrafts, a book fair, and a showcase of exquisite food from the Valle del Cauca department.

If you had fun at the Mono Núñez Festival, you will certainly enjoy other folkloric festivals Colombia has to offer:

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