September 12, 2022

The first edition of the Arantzazu Festival, organized by the Fundación Columbus in collaboration with Viralgen, took place on September 8, 9, and 10, with four concerts in Donostia, Bilbao, and the Sanctuary of Arantzazu. The main venue of the event has concluded with its purpose fulfilled.

Thanks to this project, more children suffering from rare diseases –also known as orphan diseases due to their lack of commercial interest– will be able to be treated with gene therapy, giving them the chance to "be born again."

The proceeds from this festival will allow new patients to live stories like those of Irai, Candela, Selina, Jason, Connor, Michael, and other children who have already benefited from gene therapy promoted by the Fundación Columbus and who receive the generous support of many people and organizations willing to give them the opportunity of a "second birth".

The festival brought together dozens of attendees in Donostia, Bilbao, and the Sanctuary of Arantzazu. Authorities such as Gotzone Sagardui –Health Minister of the Basque Government–, Jokin Bildarratz –Education Minister of the Basque Government–, Denis Itxaso –Government Delegate in the Basque Country–, Jabier Larrañaga –Deputy for Economic Promotion, Tourism, and Rural Environment–, Izaro Elorza –Mayor of Oñati– among other personalities who supported the cause and enjoyed an exclusive cultural and solidarity meeting.

First level groups and artists were the protagonists: the Euskadiko Orkestra; the Bilboko Korala Elkartea; the soprano, Rocío Pérez; the baritone Damián del Castillo; the cello soloist of the Orquesta Nacional de España, Ángel Luis Quintana; under the musical direction of the maestro, Ramón Tebar.

The Réquiem de Fauré was the main theme of the opening and closing concerts, preceded in the first part Aita gurea (Our Father) by Madina, Pavane by Ravel, Kol Nidrei by Bruch, and the Pavane by Fauré. In Bilbao, there was a Lyric Concert with arias and duets from the operatic repertoire, as well as zarzuela pieces and popular works. While in the Crypt of the Sanctuary of Arantzazu, Cello Suites #2 and #3 by J. S. Bach were performed by Maestro Ángel Luis Quintana, with "Il Soldato", an extraordinary cello from 1800 owned by the Fundación Columbus.

"We are deeply grateful for the magnificent reception of this Arantzazu Festival. It is an encouragement to continue fulfilling our purpose, that more children with rare diseases can enjoy a new life through gene therapy. We are thus fulfilling our goal of making culture an instrument of social cohesion and solidarity," said the founder, secretary, and trustee of the Fundación Columbus and CEO of Viralgen, Javier García Cogorro.

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