Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia’s National Day, on the 11th of September, commemorates the day on which Barcelona and Catalonia were finally defeated after 14 months of military siege in 1714. This year, the institutional ceremony was celebrated in advance by the Catalan Government and the Catalan Parliament. The institutional events, which are normally held on the night before the 11th, were brought forward this year to avoid its coincidence with the kick-off of the electoral campaign for the 27-S elections, on the night from the 10th to the 11th. On this occasion, the commemoration of the National Day revolved around two anniversaries: the 100th anniversary of Catalonia’s Library Network and the 750th birthday of the chronicler Ramon Muntaner. The institutional commemoration took place in ‘Plaça Sant Jaume’ the square where Barcelona’s Town Hall and Palau de la Generalitat (the Catalan Government headquarters) are located.
Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal
The institutional commemoration started at 7pm with the awarding of the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal, which is the Chamber’s highest distinction, awarded once per year to a person or institution and representing one of Catalonia’s highest honours. This year, the award went to the foundation ‘Institut Guttmann’, a hospital committed to the full rehabilitation and reintegration into society of those who have suffered spinal cord injuries, received brain injuries or have other neurological disabilities. The award has also been given to the first eight women who sat on the Catalan parliament once it was reinstituted after Franco’s dictatorship, in 1980.
President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert, stated that Catalans “have learnt” from our 11th of September commemorations and we “have given them a twist: now there is not a feeling of defeat but one of hope for the future” she added. De Gispert also outlined that she is confident that “in 2016 we will move closer to horizons of freedom” which will allow Catalan people to be “equal, free and solidary men and women”. During her speech, she also emphasised that next year “we will be setting the base for something new, according to people’s demands and their right to decide”.
The main attraction was the institutional commemoration held in ‘Plaça Sant Jaume’. The evening acts were divided into two big performances: one a homage to Catalonia’s libraries, whose network celebrates this year its 100th anniversary and the other an audio-visual retrospective of Catalonia’s history, from the Middle Ages to the present day, with images being projected onto the façade of ‘Palau de la Generalitat’.
Homage to the Catalan Libraries Network
Catalan President Artur Mas and the President of the Catalan Parliament Núria de Gispert led the institutional ceremony, which was also attended by Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau, members of the different Catalan political parties and 300 guests who sat in the front rows. The conservative People’s Party (PP), the anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans (C’S), the alternative left and the radical independence CUP were all absent.
The performance, designed and directed by theatre director Josep Maria Mestres and presented by Catalan actor Pep Cruz, focused on reciting texts from key moments of Catalan History since 1915, when the Catalan Libraries Network was born. The unique feature was that most of the texts recited were written by librarians, in order to highlight the role of these professionals. Three renowned Catalan actresses, Sílvia Bel, Mercè Pons and Rosa Renom, where chosen to recite the texts which where accompanied by a contemporary dance performance by dancer Cesc Gelabert, poetry, traditional ‘Sardanes’ dancing and live music from the ‘Banda Municipal de Barcelona’, and ‘Orfeó Català’, one of Catalonia’s most iconic choirs. One of the most applauded performances occurred when the ‘Banda Municipal de Barcelona’ together with ‘Orfeo Català’ interpreted ‘El Cant de la Senyera’, a traditional Catalan song that is almost the national anthem.
An audio-visual retrospective of Catalonia’s history
The second part of the institutional ceremony revolved around the 750th anniversary of Ramon Muntaner, one of the first chroniclers in Catalonia’s history. The audio-visual artist Franc Aleu had designed a performance based on a text from Catalan writer Albert Sánchez Piñol, author of the international bestseller ‘Victus’.The performance explained different episodes of Catalan history using the Middle Age chronicles from Ramon Muntaner but also referring to later events, from 988 AD to the present day. The images were projected onto the façade of ‘Palau de la Generalitat’, located on ‘Plaça Sant Jaume’, where the ceremony took place.