The Canary Islands Islas Canarias, are a Spanish archipelago which, in turn, forms one of the Spanish Autonomous Communities and an Outermost Region of the European Union. The archipelago is located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the disputed border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The sea currents which depart from Canary's coasts used to lead ships away to America. The islands from largest to smallest are: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, Alegranza, La Graciosa and Montaña Clara.
The Canary Islands has great natural attractions, climate and beaches make the islands a major tourist destination, being visited each year by about 12 million people (11,986,059 in 2007, noting 29% of Britons, 22% of Spanish not Canarians and 21% of Germans). Among the islands, Tenerife has the most number of tourists received annually, followed by Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.The archipelago principal tourist attraction is the Teide National Park (in Tenerife) where the highest mountain in Spain and third largest volcano in the world (the mount Teide) is located, it receives over 2.8 million visitors annually.
The Canary Islands currently has a population of 2,098,593 inhabitants, making it the eighth most populous of Spain's autonomous communities, with a density of 281.8 inhabitants per km². Tenerife is its most populous island with approximately one million inhabitants; the island of Gran Canaria is the second most-populous. The total area of the archipelago is 7447 km². It also enjoys sub-tropical climate with longer hot days in summer and cooler days in winter.
The status of capital city is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas (known as "Las Palmas de Gran Canaria", as the "GC" indicates on the local license plates). Until 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the only capital. The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (City World Heritage Site) on the island of Tenerife
LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria commonly known as Las Palmas is the capital (jointly with Santa Cruz) and the most populous city in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands and the ninth largest city in Spain, with a population of 381,123 in 2008. Nearly half (45.9%) of the people of the island and nearly 1/5 (18.35%) of all inhabitants of the Canary Islands lives in this city. It is also the fifth most populous urban area in Spain with a population of around 700,000 and (depending on sources) ninth or tenth most populous metropolitan area in Spain with a population of 625,892, 640,000 or 741,826. Las Palmas is the largest city of the European Union outside Europe. Located in the northeast of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, about 150 kilometers (~93 miles) off the northwestern coast of Africa within the Atlantic Ocean.
Las Palmas enjoy a Subtropical climate, season with the summer temperatures lasts throughout the year. According to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University in United States, Las Palmas enjoys "the best climate in the world".
The city is home to the Canarian Ministry of Presidency (shared in a 4-year term with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), one half of the ministries and boards of the Canarian Government, (the other half being located in Tenerife), Gran Canaria Provincial Courts and two courts of the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands .
GRAN CANARIA AN ISLAND OF CONTRAST
Gran Canaria measures some 1,532 km2. Its highest point is Las Nieves Peak at 2,000 metres above sea level in the centre of the island.
Blessed with a pleasant temperate climate throughout the year, there are strongly contrasting landscapes that can be visited all within the same day. Cliffs, sandy beaches and dunes contrast with spectacular ravines, green slopes and pine forests; towns and villages with their old-world historical centres, high-class hotels and tourist areas, marinas and excellent facilities for all types of sporting and recreational activities coexist happily.
On Gran Canaria intense working sessions can be combined with days of relaxation and leisure activities to suit all tastes. Among such activities we could underline the sporting, historical and cultural ones or those closed to nature at its most exuberant, where the island's volcanic origin, and flora and fauna of beauty, as well as scientific interest, can be admired.
LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA. A WINDOW ONTO THE WORLD
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with its 400,000 inhabitants is a vibrant modern city which also has a contrasting historical centre with lovely old buildings and a well-developed tourist infrastructure to accommodate the most demanding visitor.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has always been an important junction and commercial centre on the routes between Europe, Africa and America. This international vocation has made it the ideal spot for holding meetings both at national and international level.
With good communications by air and sea and 20 kilometers away from the city, its airport has daily links to the main cities in Europe and America. The city's endowment of cultural and leisure activities and the possibility to attend exhibitions, lectures, theatre and concerts all the year round, provide a further incentive to choose this city, giving whatever event may be organised here even greater guarantee of success. It is worth noting that according to the North American Travel Association journal, the capital of Gran Canaria has the best climate in the world, with an annual average temperature of 23ºC making possible the bath in its beaches at any time of the year.
BEAUTY AND FUNCTIONALITY
The Canary Islands Convention Centre is the finishing touch to one of the best views of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. Óscar Tusquets had in mind in its conception an independent, isolated fortress, quite different from its closest architectural context. It is a work of enormous dimensions, castellated and seated on a pedestal of volcanic rock, which at the hands of the sculptor Juan Bordes was turned into living rock.
But beauty and functionality are not at odds with each other; so in its 13,200 m2 of usable surface there are eleven rooms with varying capacities for all needs, from a meeting for 20 people to a large congress or convention for up to 2,500 people.
Alongside these rooms are large spaces for rest and leisure, facilities which extend beyond the buildings, along the seafront promenade in an area which has all kinds of leisure possibilities and services such as shopping, as well as a wide range of excellent hotels and restaurants.
AN ARCHITECT: ÓSCAR TUSQUETS
A Building with Views over the Atlantic
The ‘Alfredo Kraus’ Auditorium and Canary Convention Centre rises majestically out of the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, at the north-west end of the beach at Las Canteras, like a solitary fortress, totally different architecturally from anything nearby.
The architect, Oscar Tusquets, was attempting to create the image of a castle-like building and conceived of this work of enormous dimensions perched on an outcrop of volcanic rock. The concept of the solitary fortress is reinforced not only by the materials used to produce the external finish but also by the sheer volume created by the various geometric shapes which back onto the central hexagonal form of the enormous Symphonic Hall, at once communicating an image of solid weight and compacted strength.
The height of the building is, yet again, reinforced by certain elements such as the turret (there for internal reasons of light) which underline the sheer verticality of the architectural shape. The building is crowned by a skylight cum dome of enormous dimensions which is translucent in its lateral faces although the system works in reverse when the sun sets. Thus, from afar, it seems as if there is an enormous lighthouse beacon perched atop a great solid black mass.
Only two materials are to be distinguished on the permanent background of stone texture and colour which is predominant throughout the work: the stainless steel used along the borders of the hexagon and on the dome of the ‘lighthouse’ and the local wood used for the access to the building.
Turrets, magnificently sheer stone walls, scattered square wooden windows, all aloft an outcrop of volcanic rock convincingly evoke the original concept of fortress standing amidst acres of dunes and craters of volcanic rock, designed to protect the vegetation from the harsh sea breeze, much in the same way as the island farmsteads have protected their crops from the inclemencies of the scouring hot Sahara winds over the centuries.
In the centre of the park where the Auditorium stands at the end of the seafront promenade at Las Canteras, an enormous spherical type fountain marks the strategic geographical position of the Canary Islands in relation to the major Atlantic ports of the three Continents of Europe, Africa and America.
A SCULPTOR: JUAN BORDES
The Canary sculptor, Juan Bordes, has brought the seabed and the Playa de las Canteras to the ‘Alfredo Kraus’ Auditorium and Canary Convention Centre. Bordes, first and foremost, has entered into empathy with Tusquets. But his main loyalty is to Nestor to whom he pays homage in a sculpture called ‘Paseando por la Barra’ (Walking along the Reef). Bordes conceived of the building as a ‘symbolic sea stage’ where the curtain rises on the gigantic Mermaid at the front entrance, with strong reminiscences of the fish to be found in this area, and falls over the disconcerting head of Medusa on the seafront façade.
Bordes alighted on the small fish known as the ‘caboso’ in the rockpools at Las Canteras beach. He transformed this small lively fish into an anthropomorphic monster with great bulging eyes and lush lips of the type which rugged sailors, long at sea, spun tales on tavern-long nights. He found that if he swelled the proportions of the fish in aluminium and steel, it would become the perfect guardian for the entrance.
The Medusa, which is also in bronze and steel, stares out over the great window onto the Atlantic. The dangerous eyes, about to be raised, are ready to petrify the beautiful Atlantic waves. Atlantis is suspended in mythical time in much the same way as the sculptor casts his spell on us and transforms the very possibilities of Nature herself.
The Scorpiofish, arched in steel, leaps out of the depths of the Ocean and up onto the windvane aloft the building. The small octopus and the enormous stingray on one of the terraces complete the outer decoration.
The sea is also evoked on the interior of the building. The bronze engravings over the stairway accessing the Symphonic Hall recreate a stroll along the Reef at Las Canteras between rockpools, shells, eels and crabs, shoals of tiddlers and the enormous mussel which rises out of the Compass Rose. You can almost catch the sea breeze. Again, the wooden panels around the Symphonic hall portray nude female figures in a symbolic harmonisation of the Venetian Lido and the Beach at Las Canteras.
A TENOR: ALFREDO KRAUS
Alfredo Kraus was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 24th November 1927. He started his singing studies with María Suárez Fiol in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and afterwards with Mrs Markoff in Barcelona, Maestro Andrés in Valencia and Mercedes Llopart en Milan.
In January 1956 he made his world premiere at the Royal Theatre of El Cairo with the performance of Rigoleto and Tosca, obtaining a resounding success. That same year he also performed Traviata in La Fenice and Turin, Rigoletto in Palermo and Sevilla, Falstaff in Rome and La vida breve in Trieste. From that moment on the performance of his Italian, French and Spanish repertoire turned him into the best lyrical tenor in the world.
Kraus´ premiere in Spain took place with Massenet´s Manon. Afterwards he performed Dña. Francisquita, the only zarzuela included in his repertoire, giving him the highest popularity.
As the most representative titles of his career repertoire we can underline the following: La Traviata, I Puritani, La Favorita, Luccia di Lamermoor, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, La Sonnambula, Lucrezia Borgia, L´elisir d´amore, Pecheurs de perles, Manon, Don Giovanni, Les contes de Hoffmann, Lakmé, Ali Baba, El barbero de Sevilla, Mephisto, Romeo et Juliette, La fille du régiment, Werther, Faust, Marina, Doña Francisquita, etc. He has also starring two films: Gayarre and The vagabond and the star.
From 1990 till 1999 the International Singing Competition Alfredo Kraus was held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, his home town.
During his last years he combined performing and teaching, giving masterful lessons all over the world. He also directed the Cátedra de Canto de la Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, which is called after him since 1999. The Cátedra de Canto del Conservatorio Superior de Música del Liceo de Barcelona and the Lecture room Alfredo Kraus are called after him too.
1997 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria wished to pay a tribune to its Predilect Son by giving his name to the first music coliseum of the town: the Auditorium Alfredo Kraus.
Alfredo Kraus has been one of the most awarded interpreters of this century:
Awards received in Spain: Premio Nacional de Música de España, Palma de Oro de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Cruz de Sant Jordi de la Generalitat de Cataluña, 1ª Medalla del Instituto Vasco de las Artes y las Letras, Gran Cruz de la Orden de Alfonso X El Sabio, Medalla de la Gran Orden del Mérito Militar con distintivo blanco concedida por SM el Rey Juan Carlos I, Encomienda de Isabel La Católica, Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of La Laguna, Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Medalla de Honor by the Menéndez Pelayo University, Premio Canarias de las Bellas Artes e Interpretación and Premio Príncipe de Asturias.
In France: Comendeur de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Medaille de Beaux Arts, Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Legion République FranÇaise.
In Italy: Commendatore della Republica Italiana, Verdi d'Oro di Parma, Medaglia d'Oro de Bellini di Catania, Palcoscenico d'Oro di Mantova e Arena di Verona, Premio único Tito Schipa, Fiorino d'Oro della Citá di Firenze, Premio Enrico Caruso y Sigillo Magnum dell' Universita di Bologna.
In Austria: Kammersänger des österreichen Staates, Ehrenmitglied der österreichen Staatsoper, Wissenschafts- und Kunstskreuz von Österreich.
In Portugal: Caballero da Orden de Santiago Da Espada .