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Aleix Palau | 30 July 2021

L’Auditori de Barcelona ends the 20-21 season having met the challenge of the pandemic and strengthened its commitment to digitalisation

L’Auditori de Barcelona concludes the 20-21 season having staged 266 concerts and welcomed 100,000 spectators. A season in which it has met the challenges posed by the pandemic, as one of the few venues in the world to offer a complete season of concerts featuring leading international figures. L’Auditori has also taken another step forward in its digitalisation programme with the launch of L’Auditori Digital, the first on-demand streamed concert platform in Spain.

L’Auditori de Barcelona ends the 20-21 season having met the challenge of the pandemic and strengthened its commitment to digitalisation

A new phase in the artistic development of L’Auditori de Barcelona, directed by Robert Brufau, began in the 2020-21 Season, with a programme in the form of a trilogy based on an artistic discourse that unifies all its programmes, taking its inspiration from a three-stage life cycle, represented by a process of Genesis (20-21 Season: Creation), Development (21-22 Season: Love and Hate) and Finale (22-23 Season: Death or Return).

With Creation as its central theme, the season started in September with a format that spread the concerts over three quarters, making it possible to adapt the programme to unforeseen changes due to the pandemic.

After an absence of half a year, with concerts being recorded behind closed doors, audiences were once again able to return to L’Auditori. The season began with the first Barcelona String Quartet Biennale, an initiative from the Cuarteto Casals, co-curated with L’Auditori de Barcelona, comprising four days of music played by some of today’s leading string quartets.

The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra started its season in October. As part of its drive to promote the presence of women conductors in concert halls, it invited eight leading international female conductors, including Gyedré Slekyte, Shiyeon Sung, Anja Bihlmaier and Marta Gardolińska to appear with the Orchestra. Among the male conductors were established figures Juanjo Mena and Ludovic Morlot. There were also performances by emerging talents who are making a name for themselves in Europe’s top venues, such as Nuno Coelho and Duncan Ward, plus many solo artists, including Emmanuel Pahud, Varvara, Javier Perianes, Narek Hakhnazaryan and Antoine Tamestit. This season has also seen the birth of a festival closely linked to the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Festival Mozart Nits d'estiu, a new opportunity to enjoy the music of Mozart and his contemporaries with conductors and soloists who are specialists in the music of the period. This year two concerts took place at L’Auditori and one at the Palau de la Música Catalana, featuring conductors Andrea Marcon, Laurence Equilbey and Jonathan Cohen and soloists Albert Cano-Smit, Daniel Ottensamer and Rosanne Philippens.

On the orchestral front, January 2021 featured a visit by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, with Alexei Volodin on piano. This was the first visit to Barcelona by a major international orchestra since the beginning of the health crisis.

The Barcelona Symphony Band has also given a normal season of concerts, insofar as this was possible during the pandemic, with performances at L’Auditori and other venues in the city, under the batons of Principal conductor José R. Pascual-Vilaplana, Assistant conductor Carlos Ramón, and guest conductors including Salvador Brotons and Philippe Bach.

The Música Antiga series featured concerts by Jordi Savall, who offered such powerful works as Bach’s Mass in B minor, and Les Musiciens du Louvre, conducted by Francesco Corti, with soprano Emöke Baráth. L’Auditori also held a new edition, the fourth, of Llums d’Antiga, now established as an unmissable event for lovers of early music. With all five concerts sold out, the Festival divided performances between the Santa Àgata Chapel and Sant Pau del Camp monastery, with appearances by leading groups Nevermind and the Ensemble Gilles Binchois and singers Hana Blažíková and Roberta Invernizzi.

Festival Emergents Barcelona brings new national and international talent together in Catalonia over four days, with performances by chamber ensembles, vocal groups, soloists with the Barcelona Symphony Band and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, and jazz musicians, who filled the halls at L’Auditori with music for today and the future. Performers included the prodigious Russian pianist Alexandra Dovgan, a protegée of Sokolov.

The Sit Back season included concerts by Nico Roig, Lina & Refree and Za! & La TransMegaCobla , while the Sessions series featured Joana Gomila, Revisiting The Godfather, Los Aurora, Lluc Casares Septet, Alba Molina and Joselito Acedo, the Álvaro Torres Trio and Philipp Gropper.

This season’s Escenes cycle is a joint production by L’Auditori and the Festival Grec entitled Dones i creació (Women and Creation). Tanit Plana and Alba Pujol have produced two ground-breaking works that explore creation from a woman’s viewpoint. The final performance in the cycle, produced by Marina Herlop, can be seen in September.

The Sampler Sèries has presented avant-garde work by composers such as Pablo Carrascosa and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and featured a concert dedicated to the father of electro-acoustic music, Karlheinz Stockhausen.

From music by great musicians we turn to music for the young. This year a new edition of Cantània was held, featuring Virtual, a work written by Òscar Peñarroya and Cèsar Aparicio. Nearly 13,000 children have taken part in L’Auditori’s great educational project, one of the largest of its kind in the world during the pandemic. L’Auditori’s Educational Project has also premièred Ullsclucs, a show for families and schools, produced jointly with Fira Mediterrània de Manresa, which has reinstated various pieces of traditional Catalan music. The event was a great success, all performances being sold out.

This season, some sixty live concerts have been available via L’Auditori Digital, the online audiovisual platform, which, in less than a year, has brought L’Auditori’s season to televisions, mobile phones and tablets on five continents. Currently it has over 3,500 subscribers.

L’Auditori Digital, has enabled audiences in New Zealand, France, the United States and Japan (to name but a few) to enjoy a good selection of events at L’Auditori and raised international awareness of its artistic project. The composers and artists who belong to Catalonia’s musical heritage, plus new works and commissions first performed at L’Auditori have also been available online. As well as crossing international borders, our commitment to digital technology has also overcome barriers closer to home, as a tool that guarantees accessibility to L’Auditori and its activities. Schools have thus been able to enjoy educational projects in the classroom thanks to the platform and complement learning with resources such as scores, choreography and tutorials which are available online. What’s more, people who have difficulty travelling have been able to enjoy live music, albeit at a distance.

Via the platform, the L’Auditori recording label provides an outlet for our studio recordings, from both those of established ensembles, namely the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and Barcelona Symphony Band, and albums produced for the Educational Project, Museu de la Música and other L’Auditori activities.

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