LaLiga Santander Fest — a marathon of musical artists and athletes each appearing from their homes — raised over 600,000 euros (about $665,000) for medical supplies to be used in Spain’s fight against COVID-19.
The solidarity telethon, organized by the premier Spanish soccer league and Universal Music, was broadcast on sports channels and streamed on the LaLiga site on Saturday evening (March 28). The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División (LaLiga) then confirmed the amount of funds raised.
The eclectic, ad hoc virtual event joined together Spain’s two biggest forms of entertainment — football and live music — both of which have both been canceled by the coronavirus. Song performances interspersed with inspirational messages from sports figures who included tennis champion Rafael Nadal, as well as soccer stars, creating much-needed programming for channels without the usual ratings-crushing matches, while orchestrating donations to aid the crisis’ health worker heroes.
It was a chance for the country’s millions of soccer fans to see their absent idols, though strangely not in motion, and a centralized screen on which to watch over twenty popular artists performing the kind of spare living room mini sets that are now a daily event on individual international musicians’ Instagram and Facebook live accounts.
The “festival” featured technical difficulties, (phone) camera-shy soccer players stiffly delivering prepared speeches, awkward pauses due to audio delay and uneven performances; things which, in other times, might have mattered. But in the time of coronavirus, with the population in Spain entering their third week of total confinement, the inevitable tedium and DIY production of such an almost four-hour event was actually comforting.
It didn’t deliver the kind of big entertainment that we’ve come to expect (and may now start to re-evaluate). Instead, it provided companionship and what felt like an authentic connection between public figures and their fans in time of need.
There were singular moments. Seventy-six-year-old Spanish pop icon Raphael singing “Como Yo Te Amo” a capella after humbly declaring that “I only know how to sing,” not play the guitar or piano, and declaring the importance of staying home for those, like him, whose health is delicate (he underwent a liver transplant in 2003.) The great flamenco singer José Merce keened the words “Quedaté en casa” (“Stay home”) during his emotional turn. Lola Indigo showed why she is an artist to watch.
Alejandro Sanz, no stranger to altruistic events, set the tone for the show singing “Viviendo Deprisa” (“Living Fast”), pointing out the song’s implicit message under the current circumstances in which we have been forced to slow down.
Aitana, Pablo Alborán, David Bisbal, Manuel Carrasco, Rosario Flores, Antonio Orozco and Pablo López were among other popular Spanish artists who played a song. Opera singer Ainhoa Arteta urged the audience to join her in singing Puccini’s “Caro Babbino Miro.”
The line-up also included Latin stars Juanes, Luis Fonsi, and Sebastían Yara and Argentine singer TINI. J Balvin appeared for a brief show of support, without performing.
Performances by participating artists can be found on YouTube: