Social Programme

Kontxako Bandera

Sunday, 9 September

Those delegates arriving early to San Sebastian will have the possibility to see the Kontxako Bandera (Basque, meaning "Flag of the Kontxa") competition. This is one of the oldest and most famous "estropada" races along the Bay of Biscay, held annually in the Kontxa; the main bay of San Sebastian. It was first held in 1879 and has taken place almost every year since, expect during times of war.

A "estropada" is a competition of traditional boats on the Cantabrian sea coast at the southern end of the Bay of Biscay called "trainera", propelled by oars. Traineras were formerly dedicated to bringing in the day's catch of anchovies and sardines from sea to market, usually competing to sell their fresh fish. Today, this historical tradition has became a major sport of racing.

The "Kontxako Bandera" competition's final race takes place the morning of the second Sunday of September (9 September, this year) and regularly draws crowds of more than 100,000 people and around 20 rowing teams. The best places to see this popular, fun and colorful event are Urgull mountain, the old port of the city, or the promenade along Kontxa bay.

Welcome Reception: Kursaal Foyer

Monday, 10 September

The Welcome Reception of the Graphene Week 2018 will be open to all delegates and promises a wonderful view. It will be held in the most singular and emblematic spot of the Kursaal; a building of the prestigious architect Rafael Moneo. The Kursaal Foyer stands out for its luminosity and its two large windows facing out towards the Cantabrian sea (Kantauri Itsasoa, in Basque language).

A perfect spot to watch the sunset in September.


The delegates attending the welcome reception will be called by the traditional txalaparta, a specialised Basque music device of wood or stone.

During the last 150 years, txalaparta has been attested as a communication device used for funeral ceremonies (hileta), celebrations (jai), the making of slaked lime (kare), or cider (sagardo). After the making of cider, the same board that pressed the apples is beaten to summon the neighbours. Then, a celebration is held and txalaparta played cheerfully, whilst the cider is consumed.

Some claim that txalaparta has been used this way for millennia, but notwithstanding different assumptions its origins remain shrouded in mystery.

Jazz Trio Musikene

A Trio of Jazz will also be playing at the welcome reception. These musicians are currently music students of Musikene; the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, set up by the Basque Government in the 2001-2002 academic year in order to offer a Higher Music Education. The school offers excellent instruction designed to guarantee fully qualified professionals capable of performing, composing, conducting and teaching music. Bearing in mind the reality of the world of music in the 21st century, the main objective of the school is to provide students with the necessary training to guarantee a future career in music.

Conference Dinner: San Telmo Museum

Thursday, 13 September

The conference dinner will be held in San Telmo Museum, located inside an old Dominican convent from the mid-16th century, situated in the Old Town of San Sebastian. The museum itself is the oldest museum of the Basque Country, it was opened in 1900 as a Historical, Artistic and Archaeological Museum and was relocated in the Dominican convent in 1932. Today, it is reintroducing itself and its new objectives. Working from the basis of its funds, almost totally related to Basque society, San Telmo has been renovated to become a Museum of Basque Society and Citizenship.

The delegates will have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to part of the permanent collection of the museum and to taste some of the worldwide recognised Basque Cuisine, in a peaceful and historical setting.

Aukeran Dantza Taldea

At the entrance to the choir of San Telmo, delegates will be received by an Aurresku; a traditional Basque Dance which is performed as a reverence and sign of respect and homage. The performers are part of the Aukeran Dance Company, founded in 1997 by the dancer and choreographer Edu Muruamendiaraz. The company has developed a long and fruitful career that is reflected in the production and tour of several shows.

A mixture between traditional and contemporary dance styles define their choreographic work, in which the rhythm and the rules of dance and traditional music are broken, changed, slowed down or de-structured.

Kup Taldea

The choir KUP taldea will perform at the closing of the dinner. This relatively young vocal ensemble was formed in 2003 by a group of eager young musicians, led by choirmaster Gabriel Baltes. However, its fifteen years of work have been sufficient to corroborate a remarkable evolution, awash with triumphs and recognitions, in a constant search for musical excellence. Following the conference dinner, they will perform the following repertoire:

Kitolis (Luis de Aranburu). This song describes the love story between a woman and a fisherman.

Neskatx' ederra (Xabier Sarasola). Basque love-song that embodies a deeply felt melancholy. The lover's lament is expressed in the shifting modal harmonies as the story unfolds alternately among the voices.

IruTxito (Aita Donostia), or "Three Chicks" in Basque, talks about the loss of some chicks to a fox.

Agur Jaunak, or "Greetings, sirs!" in Basque, is a song which is sung at particular ceremonies to welcome someone recently arrived or to say goodbye to a friend, or to welcome a visitor as he/she deserves to be. It consists of a form of displaying honour and welcoming those present and the guests. Normally it is sung acapella by one or numerous voices, and it is a custom that the audience stand up to hear this song.


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Publishing date: 23 April 2020 12:03