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Follett and Vargas Llosa will speak in Vitoria on the Cathedral

26/07/2002 "Encounters with the Cathedral" includes literary conferences, holy music, short story and painting competitions, ...

26/07/2002 Next October the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation will hold an extensive and varied cultural programme. Included in the events are Literary Conferences with the participation of prestigious writers such as Ken Follett, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rosa Regas, Julio Llamazares and Eduardo Mendoza. They are attending as part of the project which, under the title "Encounters with the Cathedral", and together with many other cultural events, contributes in shaping the Cultural Heritage of Vitoria-Gasteiz. In addition to the conferences the programme includes a cycle of holy music, a short story competition, a leading national open-air speed-painting competition, a cinema series and open radio conferences.

"Encounters with the Cathedral" represents a new and important step in disseminating information on the restoration of the most emblematic gothic building in the Basque Country. Apart from the material recovery of the building, the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation undertakes extensive work on spreading social, cultural and tourist information via conferences, seminars, exhibitions, publications, etc. In this particular instance, efforts are being concentrated on an ambitious project which, between the months of October this year and February 2003, will convert Vitoria-Gasteiz and Alava into a reference point in the cultural world. The aim is to establish the bases of a cultural programme linked to the Cathedral and what this represents in its different forms.

For this purpose, the Foundation, thanks to an agreement signed with the Regional Government of Alava, has designed a varied top-quality programme in which the Literary Conferences with well-known writers are worth particular mention. The aim of this initiative is to analyse, among other themes, the relation which has existed for centuries between cathedrals and culture, and how writers have progressed from being practically unknown to becoming gods who exploit their signature to the full. Furthermore, the changes that have taken place in Literature, Science and Thought, from the Middle Ages to the present day, will also be described.

The protagonists of this first conference-colloquium (talk) will be five well-known writers: Ken Follett, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rosa Regás, Julio Llamazares and Eduardo Mendoza. The encounters will be held in the Palacio de Congresos Europa (Europa Congress Hall) between the months of October 2002 and February 2003. With these Literary Conferences, the Foundation aims to facilitate contact between prestigious authors and a great number of people.

"Pillars of the Earth"
For this first edition of "Encounters with the Cathedral" the Foundation has chosen five writers whose works top the sales list both nationally and internationally. The conferences will begin in the month of October with Ken Follett, writer of numerous best sellers and author of "Pillars of the Earth". This work, one of the best historic novels, is deeply related to the integral restoration of the Old Cathedral as it describes the construction process of a cathedral in England in the twelfth century.

The conference cycle, due to take place monthly, will continue in November with Rosa Regás, winner of the prize Premio Planeta 2001 with the novel "La Canción de Dorotea" (Dorothy´s Song). The writer Julio Llamazares, one of the most prominent figures in current Spanish narrative, will participate in December. Llamazares is to prepare a historic itinerary on Spanish cathedrals which will include Santa Maria.

Eduardo Mendoza, a crucial figure in Spanish literature, is the author of "La ciudad de los prodigiosos" (City of the Prodigious). The conference cycle will end in February with Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the most prolific and award-winning Latin American writers (whose awards include the Prince of Asturias and Cervantes).

Running at the same time as the Literary Conferences, the programme "Encounters with the Cathedral" includes five other important events aimed at promoting Culture and Art. The conferences with the prestigious novelists constitute the central core of the programme but there are other cultural activities related to the temple. These activities include a short story competition, a leading national painting competition, a cycle of holy music, open radio conferences, a cinema cycle with films such as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" or "The Name of the Rose" and a live recording of Gregorian chant on CD.