There is a big misconception surrounding Marbella that María Testa, professional pianist, culture vulture and founder of Música con Encanto, has made it her mission to erase: the idea that all we have to offer is sunny weather, a party vibe, and good beaches.
While these and other features make ours an ideal town in which to raise a family, it would all mean nothing in the absence of something that feeds our mind, our soul and our spirituality, and this is where music comes in.
María has been dedicated to music all her life. She studied Musicology at the Catholic University of Argentina, heading to Marbella when she was 22 to accompany prestigious pianist, Ramón Coll, and to finish her studies in piano. After graduating, she worked for many years at the Teatro Cervantes, forming the Philharmonic Orchestra of Málaga.
Following her marriage, María returned to Marbella, teaching artistic expression workshops at the Hotel Puente Romano. “I taught for two years, during a difficult economic time for Spain. The workshops were just a seed that I always knew would bloom into something larger.
I had my children and began working with Alessandro Cavalli, a violoncello player. I also formed the Duo del Sol, performing piano recitals alongside fellow musician, Irina Natskikh.
In 2004, María founded Música con Encanto, in an effort to bring the beauty of music to a wider audience. She notes: “At that time, there was hardly any cultural activity taking place on the Coast. There was a philharmonic society, but it was private. My idea was to build a more open, egalitarian meeting point for musicians.”
Although María is a highly trained and seasoned pianist, Música con Encanto would not be limited to professionals: “We wanted not only to offer concerts by beginers and renowned musicians, but also to build a pedagogical project, to bring musical experiences to all ages. Thus, the Pequeña Orquesta Mediterránea and Music Appreciation Courses were born.”
The musicians that formed the grassroots of the new musical movement on the Coast began meeting at iconic restaurant, El Relicario, once a week. “The restaurant closed on Tuesdays and a bunch of us would bring various instruments to play together.
The meetings grew more and more popular and we soon needed a larger place for our gatherings. We searched out new venues, such as Vasari’s beautiful patio, which we continue to use for our concerts in the summer.”
In the Winter, many events and Músical documentary screenings take place at the La Virginia church. The Salon El Olivo, at the Les Roches school, is another popular venue. Says María: “The management at Les Roches are very generous. They love our project and loyally support us. Recently, the Clínica Buchinger also invited us to use their grounds for our concerts, which we truly appreciate, while other concerts take place at the Salón La Caseta at Casino Marbella.”
Música con Encanto holds one concert every month, from September to June, every year. “We haven’t cancelled a single event,” beams María, “and in addition to live performances, we hold cinema evenings and organise cultural trips.”
María recently organised a bus excursion to take music lovers to and from the Teatro Cervantes, where they enjoyed Puccini’s Madame Butterfly after indulging in tapas, for just €10 (for the bus ride), plus the price of the ticket…
Words Marisa Cutillas Photography Kevin Horn
Tel: 689 000 944 www.músicaconencanto.org