Travelers head to Costa Rica for many reasons: to lounge on the pristine beaches, to experience the exotic and unique culture, to retreat to vacation homes and luxury resort, to be pampered in the rainforest, or to surf the infamous waves. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that Costa Rica boasts a thriving classical music scene.
The National Symphony Orchestra is one of the most prolific cultural institutions in the country. Beginning its season each year in April, the NSO enlightens Costa Rica’s music scene with over 90 performances, with their last one in November. From free concerts in the Central Valley, to the International Festival of Music in San Jose, the NSO performs at various venues around Costa Rica, strumming out inspirational music for all to enjoy.
Costa Rica was catapulted onto the world stage of classical music with the formation of the NSO in 1970, under the leadership of an American, Gerald Brown. The orchestra, which is manly composed of Costa Rican musicians, currently plays under the leadership of Chosei Komatsu, a Japanese national who previously served as the principal conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
The orchestra, which mainly performs in the National Theater (Teatro Nacional), often features world-renowned guest soloists and conductors, with concerts on Thursday and Friday evenings, plus Saturday matinees. In total this year, the NSO plans to deliver 24-36 concerts in the Teatro Nacional; performances include major symphonic repertoire as well as minor and newly commissioned work.
Other performances from the orchestra, known as “Cultural Extension” concerts, are set at various venues around Costa Rica. The premier event on Costa Rica’s classical music calendar, however, is the International Festival of Music, which is held during the last two weeks of August every year. The festival is marked by performances from internationally renowned musicians in venues all over the country, including the National Theater and the Metropolitan Cathedral in the capital city of San Jose.
If you are a fan of classical music there is no shortage in Costa Rica, as there are many venues that frequently host performances of classical music, including: the Goethe Institute, the Alliance Francaise, the Museo de Arte Costarricense and the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center.