The EskifaiaAbesbatza Choir wins first prize in the Arnotegui Medieval and Renaissance Choral Competition, organised by the Misterio de Obanos Foundation, with an original and complex performance that included the sound of txalaparta.

The church of San Juan de Obanos was the setting for an interesting evening of choral music yesterday, Saturday, as part of the fifth edition of the Arnotegui National Medieval and Renaissance Choral Music Competition organised by the Fundación Misterio de Obanos. The three choral groups taking part in the competition offered attractive musical proposals, but it was the EskifaiaAbesbatza Choir, from Hondarribia, which won the first prize, awarded by an illustrious group of international musicians. The public’s preference went to the delicate interpretation of the repertoire of the Zaragozan female vocal group Enchiriadis to award the popular first prize.

The fifth edition of the Arnotegui Medieval and Renaissance Music Competition, which coincided with the day of the pilgrimage to the hermitage of the same name in the town of Obanos, was a great success with the audience, filling the church of San Juan to capacity. To evaluate the performances, the organisers were assisted by a jury of enormous prestige in the world of choral singing, such as the conductor Nicole Corti, known as the Grand Dame of choral singing in France; the Portuguese singer and conductor Pedro Teixeira and Albert Alcaraz, Spanish-French composer and performer.
The presentation of the event was given by the writer and journalist Jesús Tanco, who dedicated his first words to the recently deceased president of the Misterio de Obanos, Juan Manuel Rubio, who advocated following in his footsteps and those of the founders in order to defend the Obanos representation as “a monumental event of culture, in a new ‘rebirth’ of the medieval through the Misterio de Obanos” and thanked the efforts being made by the member institutions of the patronage to continue increasing the legacy of which they are the custodians.

The competition began with a performance by the Coral MaioraCanemus from Vitoria-Gasteiz, conducted by Isabel Ruiz de Larrinaga, performing the piece Ad mortenfestinamus, taken from the 14th century “llibre Vermell de Montserrat”, a compulsory piece for the three participating choirs. After this choir, the choir that would eventually be the jury’s favourite, the Coral EskifaiaAbesbatza, from Vitoria-Gasteiz and directed by Gorka Aierbe, took the floor. Finally, the female vocal group Enchiriadis, from Zaragoza, under the direction of Jorge Apodaca, closed the competition, obtaining the audience’s recognition for their performance.


It was not easy for the jury to choose the best of the groups on stage, and the decision was delayed a little while the gospel choir “Cada día en su presencia”, which also performed at the start of the competition, livened up the deliberation with a lively repertoire in the church of San Juan de Obanos.

In the end, the jury decided in favour of the aforementioned Hondarribia choir, which won a prize of 1,200 euros, followed by Enchiriadisque, which won the 700 euros second prize, while the MaioraCanemus Choir received the 400 euros third prize. The jury’s prizes were awarded by representatives of the Obanos Town Council and the Arnotegi Hermits’ Brotherhood, while the Lamiategui Women’s Association presented the popular prize. It should be noted that in this edition, the jury decided not to award the prize for the best choral direction, as it was impossible to choose one of them.

Regardless of the results, and as the people in charge of conducting the musical event, Julen Bidegain and Noelia Hualde, emphasised, the main winner was the public attending the fifth edition of the Arnotegui competition, who were able to enjoy a first-class musical show in the town of Obanos.