Kaija Saariaho Guest composer
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Marc Timón Guest composer
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Alba G. Corral Guest visual artist
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Irene Solà Guest storyteller
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Pere Portabella Guest filmmaker
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Winter skies, aurora borealis, nocturnal silences, forest sounds ... the music of Kaija Saariaho (Helsinki, 1952) is inextricably linked with the universe. Although she has been living in Paris since 1982, this Finnish composer feels a deep connection with nature. This relates closely to her having been born and raised in a Scandinavian country where the inhabitants have a more direct, to some extent primal, relationship with their culture. It is natural, then, for Saariaho's music to carry in its DNA this indelible feature.
After studying in Helsinki and Freiburg, Saariaho lives in Paris, following her training at the Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music (IRCAM), founded by Pierre Boulez. There she researches and experiments with electronics, which she mainly uses to achieve the acoustic effects that the confined space of concert halls does not offer.
Her relationship with the city of Barcelona is longstanding, as well as her admiration for the architectural work of Antoni Gaudí and Modernism, capable of transforming natural forms into architectural elements, something we also find in the Palau de la Música Catalana by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. In a way, Kaija Saariaho's music seeks to achieve similar effects. Character, something to which she attaches great importance, is easily recognisable in her work, despite the abstract nature of her music. Through its timbre and acoustic effects, Saariaho manages to open a broad palette of colours that burst like the scent of a perfume when it first hits the nose.
The charm of her music lies in its ability to evoke both a deeply attractive sensuality thanks to its connection with nature, and at the same time the cold of Scandinavia, specifically Finland, where darkness and snow are so present for a good part of the year. Certainly, this contrast, inherent in the Scandinavian climate, is one of the attractions of the music that we shall present at the Palau in a variety of projects and formats ranging from choral to symphonic, chamber music and opera, including a new production of Saariaho’s work Only The Sound Remains. This is a chamber opera very appropriate for the dimensions of the unique walled garden that is the Palau de la Música Catalana.
Committed to the development of new forms of musical composition, and the support of new generations of composers, Kaija Saariaho believes that "as long as there is a passion for music, despite technology, it will not disappear." In a season with many perspectives and passions, it simply remains to say that even on the darkest night of Scandinavian winter, "only sound remains"...
Marc Timón (Castellón d'Empúries, 1980) belongs to the generation of those born and raised in the golden age of George Lucas, who created the first Star Wars trilogy with music by John Williams.
Trained in journalism at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and in composition at l’Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya, his Empordà roots led him to love and cultivate Cobla music, becoming a member of the Cobla Sant Jordi-Ciutat de Barcelona. In his early youth he excelled as a sardana composer and was considered a reviver and rejuvenator of music whose roots are of Catalan origin.
His passion for music and cinema led him across the Atlantic five years ago, with the goal of finding his place as a film soundtrack composer. Since then, he has steadily strengthened his composing career in the challenging world of Hollywood. Six-time Jerry Goldsmith Award winner, Marc Timón’s soundtracks combine the best features in the long tradition of composition for the Seventh Art, with its age-old mastery of the classical music repertoire, and his ability to put it at the service of the expressive requirements of the 21st century.
The versatility and heterogeneity of his prolific output reminds us of big names in the world of cinema, such as Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Bernard Herrmann, John Williams and Hans Zimmer, while in the field of the sardana it evokes Juli Garreta, Eduard Toldrà, Joaquim Serra, Joan Lamote de Grignon and Joan Albert Amargós. Thus, in a unique blend of styles that is totally unstructured, Marc Timón is able to modernise the Cobla, write a work paying tribute to Maurice Ravel based on a theme in a radio program, or write an epic poem for the whole family at the Orfeó Català, which since its release two years ago at the Sant Esteve Concert, has become its ideal ending. For all these reasons and for his productive life, Marc Timón is a guest composer at the Palau de la Música Catalana this season.
Alba G. Corral (Madrid, 1977) admits that it took her a long time to consider herself an artist. The insecurity that is all too often associated with the digital arts and the added fact of being a woman created two considerable obstacles. After fifteen years in Barcelona and now considered an international leader in her discipline, this perception is no longer under discussion. This is due to the scope of her work and the almost political position she holds through her body of work.
The Palau’s guest is a computer programmer, a software developer, and an arts activist who understands the pulse of the Barcelona experimental underground over the last decade. She employs disused buildings such as the Zentraus Club in the Rambla del Raval, avant-garde spaces such as l’Hangar, or multimedia creative centres such as the Niu del Poblenou. This is the ecosystem of an artist who has already been shown at the most important festivals, such as Sonar, Euphonic, L.E.V. or Mutek. A visual poetry that has been presented in different continents with styles ranging from installations to full dome. Last summer, she opened the Festival Grec de Barcelona alongside the legendary Kronos Quartet, a new landmark as a creator and performer.
But ... what does Alba G. Corral do? She paints digital landscapes that interact with the music accompanying them. These are large-scale visual displays created from the programming of a pre-set algorithmic code, that the viewer experiences live. These are images of overwhelming chromatic richness, and sketches that branch out creating improbable figures. In short, they fulfil Kandinsky's prophecy: light, form, movement, colour and space combine to create visual music.
Composition and programming; the coexistence of nature and urban technology; mathematics and art; binomials that Alba G. Corral has put to use with, primarily, electronic and electro-acoustic music, and that the Palau invites us to experience with the language of the classics in some of its concerts and productions. This is an aesthetic that not only immerses us in the graphic imagery of the season, but also sets out the challenge of experiencing the primary motivation for being in our concert hall: to offer live experiences that are engraved in the memory.
The footsteps of small animals on the roof. Creatures peeled away like onions. Women describing their own deaths with irreverent laughter. Turns in the road that are memorised as songs.
There is no recital of Irene Solà’s work (Mala, Osona, 1990) that is not accompanied by applause. The poem Bèstia (Amadeu Oller Prize 2012), the novel Els dics (Prize Documenta 2017) and Canto jo i la muntanya balla (Anagrama Books Award 2019) set up an exuberant and celebratory journey of bodies, spirits, nature, layers, stories and voices
Solà gathers us around the fire to celebrate the art of telling stories; how they are constructed, where they are told, who they belong to, how they take shape. Through the power of imagination and words, they inhabit the vision and voice of people, animals, natural phenomena, historical events, mushrooms, spectra or water women.
A graduate in fine arts, Solà forged her voice by composing poetry and fixing it to the Faculty walls, and explored installation, video art, and the visual arts, while avoiding any pre-packaged categories and putting text at the centre of her work. She has exhibited her works at the CCCB, the Whitechapel Gallery and Jerwood Arts Centre in London, and at the Bòlit de Girona, among other art and poetry venues and festivals. Her biography grew on the back of cosmopolitan London where she published her first works, and in the region of Osona, where she has her roots.
Solà’s residence in our hundred-year-old home will reveal the vistas and stories that lurk within, and give new perspectives from which we can build new stories. It is a significant challenge, a game, that will be broken down into various projects. The Palau offers its memories like a barometer of culture, and the magic of a music box. The weight of history and the weightlessness of emotions spoken and tacit. The echoes of ancestral wisdom and the vibrant pulse of the present. The Palau imagined historically as a stage, as a temple, as a monument ... but which can also become a forest, a workshop, an archive, a bedroom ... How many Palaus are there? How many can we live with? How will they strengthen our imagination, how will they challenge us, how many will be fleeting, and how many live forever?
When Irene Solà sings ... the Palau dances!
"To be able to see differently is to learn to look at the unexpected and to understand in another way what we see and hear."
When Pere Portabella (Figueres, 1927) expressed this idea in his acceptance speech of an honoris causa at the UAB (2009), two of the main ideas that guided his career came to light. On the one hand, the "creation of difference": crossing boundaries, thresholds of conflict, competing voices and truths. On the other hand, the cross-discipline and magical infusion of the visual image with other art forms. In both cases, here is an essential creator who connects with the core theme of the Palau this season: perspective.
An indispensable European filmmaker, one of the doyens of filmmaking in Spain, Portabella is a mine of artistic treasure and wisdom. A collaborator with Joan Brossa, Antoni Tàpies, Joan Miró, Antonio Saura, Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny and Carles Santos among others, he shared with them an avant-garde spirit that ran parallel to their commitment to, and direct involvement in politics.
With Films59, a legendary production company that celebrates the 60th anniversary in 2020 of the premiere of its first film, Portabella has reached remarkable milestones, such as making Luis Buñuel's Viridiana possible. And as a director, some of his titles are indisputably film library material: El sopar, Informe General, Pont de Varsòvia - with images of the Palau itself ..., a filmography with more than twenty entries from which some of the principal centres of world art have acquired works for their collections, exhibitions and retrospectives: the Kassel Documenta 11, Paris Pompidou, New York MoMA, Reina Sofia in Madrid and MACBA, among other museums and film festivals (Cannes, Venice, Gijón, Rotterdam...).
His career blends well with us in the concert hall, especially regarding El silenci abans de Bach, creating a magic spell around the composer and his work. A Bach invoked by a piano which has mechanized Goldberg’s Variations, extolling the senses and emotions of the interpreter, inviting the discipline of learning, which is fragile even in its eternity. It is a musical monument... in the hands of a filmmaker.
Ideas that are projected on both screens and minds: through image, music or silence