L’Auditori presents the 2019-2020 seasons of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Early Music and Chamber Music, which will revolve around the figure of Ludwig van Beethoven

Aleix Palau
L’Auditori presents the 2019-2020 seasons of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Early Music and Chamber Music, which will revolve around the figure of Ludwig van Beethoven

L’Auditori will merge artistic dialogue with the Beethoven250 Festival, a cross-cutting programme dedicated to the great German composer. Ramon Humet and Pablo Carrascosa are the guest composers who will feature in L’Auditori’s various seasons. Perejaume is the artist responsible for creating the graphic image of the season as L’Auditori consolidates the rapport between music and other arts.

L’Auditori presents the 2019-2020 seasons of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Early Music and Chamber Music, which will revolve around the figure of Ludwig van Beethoven, since 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of his birth and is cause for celebration.

With a graphic image created by the artist Perejaume, L’Auditori will merge the artistic dialogue of all the cycles of the institution through Beethoven’s music and the presence of the guest composers, who this season are Ramon Humet and Pablo Carrascosa.

One of the novelties of the season is that the OBC has introduced a new subscription series for Thursdays and will also launch the Flat Rate 25, a season ticket for under-25s that entitles holders to gain unlimited access to concerts held at L’Auditori.

Beethoven250 Festival, a cross-cutting programme

The great novelty of this season is that L’Auditori is embarking on a new phase with the aim of building a unified and cross-cutting artistic project, in such a way that a dialogue will be devised that pervades each and every one of its programme ranges. And for this reason, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, the Beethoven250 Festival proposes an extensive interpretation of his music and influences in a cross-cutting manner.
The work of the Bonn composer speaks of humanity as a whole and symbolises tradition and modernity in the same way. L’Auditori, in representation of modern music and public facilities, finds in Beethoven an inspiring figure at all levels.
Thus, the institution presents a season inspired by the vast musical legacy of the German genius, from his humanistic vocation and the classical spirit of his initial composition phase, to the depth and universality of his musical ideas and the radical formal exploration that characterised his final creative phase.

At the Beethoven250 Festival, the OBC will perform a large part of Beethoven’s symphonic repertoire conducted by Kazushi Ono, Jan Willem de Vriend and Rudolf Buchbinder. The latter will conduct as well as play the piano throughout all five concertsdedicated to this composer. In addition, we will have the opportunity to listen to two of Beethoven’s lesser-known vocal works, the Ah, perfido! scena and aria and the trio for voices and orchestra Tremate, empi tremate. All this will be complemented by a large number of symphonies as well as the triple concerto for violin, cello and piano, which will feature soloists such as cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

In addition, David Lang’s opera Prisoner of the state will be premiered, based on the original libretto of Fidelio, and co-commissioned by L’Auditori along with other major institutions such as the New York Philharmonic and London’s Barbican Centre.

The following season, also with the OBC, this full symphonic repertoire will be completed with the opera Fidelio, the Ninth Symphony and two contemporary works inspired by the genius from Bonn: Absolute Jest by John Adams and Two Episodes by Magnus Lindberg.

Within the framework of the Chamber Music season, we can attend an unusual marathon in which outstanding national musicians will play 14 hours of non-stop chamber music by the German composer, with the rendition of the complete piano trios and the sonatas for violin and piano and for cello and piano, with performers such as the Ludwig Trio, Vera and Claudio Martínez Mehner, Miguel Colom, Arnau Tomàs and the Trio Fortuny, to name just a few.

The Early Musicseason, as well as continuing with the full symphonies with Jordi Savall’s period performance, will bear the Beethoven seal in the second edition of the Lights of Early Music Festival, which will revolve around a classic Beethovenian theme, that being the notion of freedom. The Festival will therefore be entitled Llibertat. Entre el caos I l’ordre (Freedom. Between Chaos and Order).

In the Beethoven250 Festival, the Barcelona Symphony Band will play the incidental music forEgmont and in the international orchestra section, L’Auditori in collaboration with BCN Classics, will host theBavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons, with the performance of the Second Symphony, and the pianist Evgeny Kissin, who will deliver a monographic performance of Beethoven’s sonatas and variations.

In the Sampler Sèries, projects conceived around the figure of Beethoven will also be presented: a premiere work by the sound artist Christine Sun Kim, who was born deaf, co-commissioned and premiered by the Ensemble Contrechamps; and also 9 Beet Stretch, a soundscape in which the Scandinavian musician Leif Inge stretches out Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to make it a work of 24 hours’ duration.

In the Escenes programme, Beethoven’s deafness will challenge us , making us rethink the meaning of art from a perceptive point of view: what is music if the creator of the Ninth Symphony never heard his work? This also connects us with various social groups that perceive reality, and also art, from different perspectives.

The Jazz Sessions will also bear the Beethoven seal with the Revisiting session of the season, a re-interpretation of the piano sonatas commissioned to the pianist Xavi Torres.

In the line of work of the Servei Educatiu (education service), aimed at an adult audience, a series of talks has been programmed that will take the Beethoven universe as a starting point with a discussion led by Jonathan Brown from the Casals Quartet, with high-profile personalities from the world of architecture, cuisine and the visual arts.

Ramon Humet and Pablo Carrascosa, guest composers

The commitment to new creation is a core element in L’Auditori’s artistic project. This season with Ramon Humet and Pablo Carrascosa Llopis, extraordinary examples of two of the most prolific generations of composers in recent years, we will continue to explore new ways of conceiving a concert experience through the commissioning and premiering of long-term works, and we can enjoy their compositions in the different seasons at L’Auditori. Their names supplement a long list of guest composers who have attended previous seasons, such as Hèctor Parra, Manuel Rodríguez Valenzuela, Raquel García-Tomás, Octavi Rumbau and Luis Codera Puzo.

From the symphonic catalogue of Ramon Humet (Barcelona, 1968), the OBC will perform Gagaku under the baton of Cristian Măcelaru. Humet will open the Sampler Sèries and Escenes with a Tribute to Martha Graham, a series of 80-minute songs for soprano, piano, shakuhachi flute, percussion quartet and dance based on texts by the poet Mario Lucarda. The premiere incorporates the commissioned choreography created by Virginie Mécène, performed by the extraordinary PeiJu Chien-Pott, soloist of the Martha Graham Dance Company. A first-rate ensemble will play the score: Sarah Maria Sun, Alberto Rosado, Kaoru Kakizakai and Neopercusión. The Llum choral cycle< strong> will be the Catalan composer’s other main event.
The work, which will be presented by the prestigious Latvian Radio Choir, is an inner journey into the spiritual dimension of man. And in the chamber season, the Armida Quartett will premiere Fràgil (fragile), a work commissioned for string quartet and electronics in which Ramon Humet takes rubbing, strikes and string resonance to the limits of sound.

The composer Pablo Carrascosa Llopis (Valencia, 1979) will premiere, as part of the OBC season, a work that is far removed from the traditional rhetoric of symphonic music, in which the orchestra is split into different groups that use loop-based repetition and the music event as composition tools. Carrascosa Llopis will also premiere White with Frames Percussionand the Barcelona Modern Ensemble. This is a work that the composer presents in two radically different formats: as a live electronic music session performed by the composer himself and as a concert which relies exclusively on acoustic instruments. The acoustic versatility of Hall 4 of L'Auditori will allow the composer to define different spatial arrangements for each part of the work.

The OBC brings together leading conductors and soloists and showcases Bartok’s stage works

The other composer who will share the limelight with Beethoven during the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-2020 season is Béla Bartók, since 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of his death.

The Béla Bartók Focus will feature the Hungarian composer’s three stage works in concert format. These are the two ballets The Miraculous Mandarin and The Wooden Prince, conducted by Kazushi Ono and Cristian Măcelaru, and the opera Bluebeard’s Castle under the baton of Josep Pons.

One of the great choral works by Johannes Brahms, A German Requiem, will open the season, with the participation of the Orfeó Català and directed by Kazushi Ono, principal conductor of the OBC. The event will launch a season that will see highlights such as the fusion of the OBC and the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra, which will come together once again after the brilliant experience in 2017, under the baton of Valery Gergiev. They will perform An Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss and the Piano Concerto no. 2 by Chopin with the pianist Seong-Jin Cho, winner of prestigious awards such as the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and the Rubinstein in Tel Aviv.

Also worthy of note is the visit by pianist Simon Trpčeski, who will play the Piano Concerto no. 2 by Rachmaninoff. In addition, the Australian director Simone Young will be back
accompanied by the pianist Javier Perianes and one of the most respected current conductors specialising in period performances will make his debut with the orchestra, the Italian Rinaldo Alessandrini, who will conduct Rossini’s renowned Stabat Mater with some of the best voices of the moment, such as soprano Saioa Hernández, who opened the current La Scala season in Milan, and the Italian tenor Enea Scala. The Russian director Vladimir Ashkenazy will also visit the OBC, along with cellists Pablo Ferrández and Kian Soltani, the violinist Boris Belkin, the pianist Gabriela Montero, the clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer, the violinist Arabella Steinbacher, conducted by the OBC’s former principal conductor Lawrence Foster, and the conductor Dalia Stasevska as part of the Festival Emergents Barcelona.

Kubrick and Hitchcock films will feature in the OBCPops

The OBCPops season, which aims to bring the OBC closer to different audiences, has become well-established in its second season. Three major soundtracks headline the proposal with the screening of: Alfred Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest, with the score written by Bernard Herrmann; the animated musical filmThe Nightmare Before Christmas by Henry Selick, featuring Danny Elfman's soundtrack and produced by Tim Burton; and the masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the American director creates an iconic audio-visual symbiosis with great works from the symphonic repertoire.

The screening of these films with a live soundtrack will be accompanied by L’OBC balla Ravel family concert (The OBC Dances Ravel) under Antonio Ruz's stage direction, the Canta amb l’OBC participatory concert (Sing with the OBC) and the popular Nadal a Broadway concert (Christmas on Broadway), conducted by Alfonso Casado.

Essential premieres in the Early Music season

The Early Music Season at L'Auditori will bear Beethoven's seal thanks to Jordi Savall and the theme of freedom that will be explored in the Lights of Early Music Festival.

The maestro Savall will continue with the composer's complete symphonies and will open the season with the revolutionary force of Eroica. In this season, he will also present the Fifth, the Pastoral and the Seventh, concluding the complete works in the following season. He will also conduct, accompanied by Le Concert des Nations Orchestra, the Saint John Passion by Bach.

The Capella Reial Youth Choir of Catalonia, within the Festival Emergents Barcelona, will reflect the music of two great figures of the Renaissance, Tomás Luis de Victoria and Pierluigi da Palestrina, in a programme that focuses on the Virgin Mary. Moreover, the Bach Zum Mitsingen project will trace the influence that Bach exerted on Mendelssohn by comparing compositions of both authors that are based on the same texts.

As for major international ensembles, the acclaimed Il Pomo d'Oro will perform a recital of Handel’s and Vinci’s arias with the countertenor Franco Fagioli, which will be his debut as a soloist in Barcelona. Our city will also host the debut of Václav Luks and the Collegium 1704, the Czech orchestra that captivated John Eliot Gardiner and European audiences with its performances of Baroque music, with a sacred music programme featuring works by Handel and Zelenka. The Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis will recreate an evening concert at the Lübeck church with vocal and instrumental music by Buxtehude, the organist Johann Sebastian Bach admired so much.

Lights of Early Music Festival 2020: Freedom. Between Chaos and Order

The next edition of the Lights of Early Music Festival, which will be held in February 2020, will revolve around the concept of freedom as a theme related to the figure of Ludwig van Beethoven, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of his birth in 2020. It will be entitled LLibertat. Entre el caos I l’ordre (Freedom. Between Chaos and Order).

The concert poster will feature the O Vos Omnes Ensemble that, under Xavier Pastrana's baton, will perform a programme based on Florentine music from Girolamo Savonarola’s time and the Bonfire of the Vanities. The Flemish ensemble Graindelavoix will be performing the programme entitled Monsters of Early Music, which opens with a quote from E.T.A. Hoffmann who considered that Beethoven conceptualised a new musical art form, connected with monstrosity or what the Germans call Das Ungeheuer. The programme will attempt to address this concept of monstrosity through the roots of Western polyphony.

Two multi award-winning ensembles will also be taking part in the Lights of Early Music Festival 2020. The first of these is El Gran Teatro del Mundo, winner of the Early Music EEEMERGING (Emerging European Ensembles) project, which will present a programme that delves into the dream world through Calderón’s stage play La Vida es Sueño (Life is a Dream). The other, the Sollazzo Ensemble, has received the Diapason d'Or, the Gramophone Editor's Choice and BBC Music Magazine’s Choral & Song Choice for its album Parle qui veut featuring moralising songs from the Middle Ages. They will be presenting it at the Festival.

After the great success he has achieved this year, the young harpsichordist Justin Taylor will be returning to the Lights of Early Music Festival to demonstrate the versatility of his ‎instrument with works by Scarlatti, Pare Antoni Soler and Ligeti.‎
To commemorate the 350th anniversary of the birth of the Italian composer Antonio Caldara, who had close ties to the city of Barcelona, the Royal Chamber Opera and soprano María Espada will be performing a selection of opera arias composed for the greater glory of the king and related concepts, such as power, order and sublimity. These form the backbone of the text of one of Caldara’s great operas, Il più Bel Nome, which premiered at the Llotja de Mar in Barcelona in 1708.

Regarding the historic landmarks that will host the concerts, it has already been confirmed that the Monastery of Sant Pau del Camp, which houses the oldest church in Barcelona, will be included in the next edition.

The Chamber Music season brings together the three great quartet schools

Apart from the great chapter dedicated to Beethoven with the chamber marathon, the string quartet will be one of the pillars of the 2019-2020 Chamber Music season. Three of the best quartets on the current scene will appear at L'Auditori: the Armida Quartett, the Calidore String Quartet and David Oistrakh String Quartet. All three are unrivalled representatives of American, European and Russian quartet schools, respectively. In addition, the Casals Quartet, a worldwide reference for the genre and regular performers at L'Auditori, will contribute their vision of the last great quartets of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in three concerts that will close the season.

L’Auditori will also host national artists renowned beyond our borders, such as the musicians of the ]W[ Ensemble from the Lucerne Festival Orchestra who will open the season, the trio of outstanding soloists comprising the clarinettist Pablo Barragán, the pianist Juan Pérez Floristán and the cellist Andrei Ioniță, and the trio led by the violinist Nicola Benedetti. These are in addition to the pianist Nikolai Lugansky and the completion of two of the cycles that have taken place over the last three seasons: the complete quintets for two violas by Mozart performed by the Cosmos Quartet and the Schubert Liedseries, in which we were able to hear the complete lieder by Franz Schubert in the voices of young European talents.

On the 30th anniversary of his death, the Chamber Music season will focus on recovering the work of composer, pianist and music theorist Josep Cercós.

The Festival Emergents Barcelona launches a new educational and participatory project

The Festival Emergents Barcelona reaches its fourth edition and has become fully consolidated as the most important venue of the year in which we can discover the new proposals of national and international music. In the nine-day time frame, Emergents offers more than twenty concerts with 200 young people covering all genres: from early music to new music, from recital to chamber music, concerts for soloists and great vocal and instrumental ensembles, not forgetting jazz and the most outstanding local flamenco.
The most prominent musicians who will participate in the Festival Emergents Barcelona 2020 are the Capella Reial Youth Choir of Catalonia, the extraordinary Dutch violinist Noa Wildschut, aged 18, and the pianist Alexandra Dovgan, aged 13, sponsored by Grigory Sokolov.
As a novelty, in this edition of the Festival Emergents Barcelona, an educational and participatory project is being launched in collaboration with the National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia (JONC) and the Association of Conservatories of Catalonia. A selection of intermediate level music students from all over Catalonia will have the opportunity to prepare and work on a symphonic piece together with the National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia and under the baton of its director Manel Valdivieso for this performance at L'Auditori.
The 140 young musicians chosen will premiere a work specially commissioned for the occasion. This year the composer of the work will be the Catalan Ferran Cruixent. The project will also offer a different experience for the audience that will be able to attend the rehearsal and see first-hand how the work comes together as a prelude to the concert.


One of the great novelties of the season is the Flat Rate 25 project, which aims to attract younger audiences.

The concept of traditional subscription is challenged with the arrival of platforms that offer unlimited access to a vast amount of content, especially in the digital world. This new trend in consumer behaviour and appreciating the value of season tickets has become well established, particularly amongst younger generations.

L’Auditori, sensitive to this reality, proposes a season ticket for under-25s, which will consist of enabling unlimited access to the hundreds of concerts offered by this institution at a flat rate of 50 euros per season. Season ticket holders will be able to acquire a free entrance ticket 48 hours before each concert, subject to availability, and access an offer that exceeds 300 concerts, ranging from early music through to electronic.

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