The opening work for the Robert Gerhard Festival is Soirées de Barcelone (Evenings in Barcelona), an orchestral suite based on a project that was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and the outbreak of the Second World War. Gerhard had begun to compose a ballet for the Ballets Russes de Montecarlo, based on a storyline by Ventura Gassol and choreography Léonide Massine. Set in the Pyrenees, the backdrop revolved around tensions between pagan and Catholic rites on the Night of Saint John. The ballet never came to be. However, from fragments that were conserved, it was posthumously recomposed as an orchestral suite. Carry on reading
Symphony No. 3, “Collages”, is one of the first examples of a 20th century orchestral work that incorporates magnetic tape as a simultaneous feature, alongside the instrumental score. It was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1961.
Desert, by Ramon Humet, was commissioned by the Spanish National Orchestra to mark the bi-centenary of the Prado Museum. Inspired by the engraving Anacoreta by Marià Fortuny and by converging impressions of the desert (vastness and emptiness, immensity and loss), dialogue is sparked off between the immensity of the orchestra and the austerity of the shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute used by pilgrim monks from the Zen Fuke school of Buddhism.