In 2010, Mason City High School was honored to perform in the 56th Annual International Habaneras and Polyphony Festival, held in Torrevieja Spain. A panel of judges for the prestigious world class event selected just 22 choirs from a large pool of applicants, representing 16 countries from four continents. Mason City was the only high school ensemble from around the world invited to perform. The other ensembles that were chosen were university and adult choirs consisting of both amateur as well as professional singers. Mason City was the only choir chosen from North America. Click on the video below to watch footage from the festival that was broadcast and televised internationally.



* Opening Ceremony
* Soloists Gala
* Awards Ceremony for Soloists

* Coral 'Gustavo Gomez Ardila (COLOMBIA)
* Ambitus Choir (GREECE)
* Coro Verres (ITALY)
* Student Choir Beijing Wuzi University (CHINA)

* Academic Choir "Professor Szyrokiego Janas' (POLAND)
* Kenyan Treble Clef Choir (KENYA)
* UDON Coro Nueva Esparta (VENEZUELA)
* Mason City High School Concert Choir (U.S.)
* Yonsei University Choir (SOUTH KOREA)

* Mixed Choir-Plunge Alytus (Lithuania)
* Gaudeamus Koral (SPAIN)
* Belcanto Choir (SERBIA)
* Adrogué Chamber Choir (ARGENTINA)

* Aidija Chamber Choir (Lithuania)
* Golden Lion of Asturias (SPAIN)
* Female Choir of Kossuth High School (HUNGARY)
* Studio Vocale Karlsruhe (GERMANY)

* Coro Svtozar Markovic (SERBIA)
* Female Choir 'The Kantoria' (SPAIN)
* Women's Chorus Pro Music (HUNGARY)
* Choir of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila (PHILIPPINES)

* Gala Final Performance and Awards Ceremony

Local choirs and Closing Ceremonies
* Coral Group "Manuel Barberá" * Mass Coral "José Hódar"
* Torrevejense Coral "Francisco Vallejos" * Coro Maestro Casanovas
* Salinas de Torrevieja Chorus and Orchestra * Choral Society "Ricardo Lafuente"


Choir To Tour Spain

The Mason City High School Concert Choir was honored to accept an invitation to perform in the prestigious International Habaneras and Polyphony Competition in Torrevieja, Spain. The ensemble traveled to Spain July 22nd - July 30th, 2010. Considered one of the most important competitions of its kind in the world, this festival presents prominent choirs from all over the world to an audience of thousands of people in a week long event. A majority of the choirs at the contest are college students or adult ensembles. Mason City was the only choir from the United States.

Situated in the heart of the Costa Blanca on the tip of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea, the Alicante town of Torrevieja celebrates the International Habaneras and Polyphony Competition every summer. This festival is one of the largest and most respected of its kind in the world. The beautiful port town of Torrevieja has retained a long musical tradition in which the habaneras are one of its main cultural touchstones.

The habanera is a genre of Cuban popular dance music of the 19th century. It developed from the contradanza which had arrived in Cuba (from France via Haiti) with refugees from the Haitian revolution in 1791. Unlike the contradanza, the habanera was sung as well as danced. It has a characteristic "Habanera rhythm", and is performed with sung lyrics. It was the first dance music from Cuba to be exported all over the world. The habanera was brought to Spain by sailors, where it became popular shortly before the turn of the twentieth century. Through the port of New Orleans habaneras played a part in the development of ragtime and jazz. Habaneras also influenced several styles of Latin music including the bolero, salsa, and the rumba. As the years went by these songs, a fusion of rhythms and sounds from both sides of the Atlantic, became deep-rooted in Spanish culture. With the aim of keeping this musical tradition alive, the Torrevieja International Habaneras and Polyphony Competition was founded in 1955. 2010 will mark the 56th Edition of the Festival, which will broadcast in many countries. When the festival begins, there is a week of musical evenings which is attended by extremely large audiences in the immense outdoor amphitheater of Eras de la Sal. After the opening event, the first session of the contest is held. In this first series of recitals and in successive ones, the participating choirs must perform a compulsory habanera and polyphony common to the rest of the participants. The remainder of the repertory is free, although it must include another two habaneras sung in Spanish and “a cappella”, together with a polyphony which is from the country of origin of each choir. After a week of performances, and once all the groups have taken part, the jury issues its verdict that includes a First Prize cash award of more than $18,000.

As a gesture of gratitude and respect to the cultural legacy of the Torrevieja Festival, the MCHS Concert Choir performed two new habanera arrangements in Spain. The ensemble worked with Dr. Juan-Tony Guzmán who set two tunes from the Dominican Republic as choral habaneras. These songs, “El Espejo” and “Casita de Campo” date back to the 19th Century. Dr. Guzmán, who is in great demand as a composer and conductor, also worked in several workshop sessions with the Concert Choir. For the polyphony portion of the festival Mason City performed their signature work “Bandari” by Iowa composer Ben Allaway.

In addition to their performances in the festival, the Concert Choir also had several concert appearances in cathedrals and other venues around the area. While in Spain the students toured many educational sites such as a Punic rampart built in 227 B.C., a Roman Amphitheater built in the first century A.D., and the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, a medieval fortress built in the ninth century. The choir also visited many areas including Madrid, Cartagena and Alicante.

“The choir thanks our community for their support and were humbled to serve as representatives of Mason City on a world wide stage.” said Joel Everist, Director of Choral Activities for Mason City High School.

Return to the Concert Choir Tour Page