The OBC will be performing with Núria Rial, Sol Gabetta and Elim Chan, and there will also be a recital by baritone André Schuen and pianist Daniel Heide and the Jove Capella Reial de Catalunya at L’Auditori de Barcelona.
In an international context marked by restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19, the three organisers will host thirteen concerts featuring artists such as Gustavo Dudamel, Josep Pons, Elim Chan, Raphaël Pichon, Gregory Kunde, Krassimira Stoyanova, Andrè Schuen, Núria Rial, Sol Gabetta, Grigory Sokolov, Daniil Trifonov, Cuarteto Quiroga and the Jove Capella Reial de Catalunya, among others. The free concert series that had been planned for the 2020 edition as a show of commitment to local artists and the local public will be rescheduled.
The Barcelona Obertura Spring Festival, whose programme has been planned in partnership with the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Palau de la Música Catalana and L’Auditori de Barcelona in collaboration with Ibercamera, the Liceu Conservatory and the Orquestra Simfònica Camera Musicae, will be holding its second edition between 5 and 28 March this year. The festival will resume following the forced cancellation in 2020, with no changes to the founding aims of continuing to work towards positioning Barcelona as a city of culture and music. The initiative, which was initially designed by the above-mentioned institutions together with Barcelona Global, is backed by Barcelona City Council through the Regional Department of Tourism and Creative Industries and the ICUB and financed through the tourist tax. The second edition of the Barcelona Obertura Spring Festival will feature 13 concerts at the main music venues.
At the same time, and with the aim of bringing music closer to all residents of Barcelona, we see the return of Obertura City+, a series of 27 free concerts spread out over the ten districts of the city that will resurrect the three main themes proposed for 2020 (The Universe of Robert Gerhard, European Fusion, and Beethoven and his 32 Piano Sonatas), a macro-event organised in conjunction with the Maria Canals International Music Competition. These concerts, which had been planned for the 2020 edition, further consolidate Barcelona Obertura’s commitment to the city’s local talent at a time that is proving very difficult for artists. The events will be held in 20 different venues, which this year will also include CASA SEAT.
Over 40 organisations are involved in the festival, which is preceded by the success of its first edition, which was held from 4 to 17 March 2019 and whose 50 concerts attracted more than 33,800 people. This year’s edition will feature 40 chamber music events adapted to the artistic requirements made necessary by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several of the events in the 2021 festival will take place at L’Auditori de Barcelona, with two performances by the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (OBC). On the weekend of 13 and 14 March, Francesc Prat and soprano Núria Rial will lead the OBC with a programme devoted to Robert Gerhard (commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death) and Frederic Mompou.
Sol Gabetta on the cello and Elim Chan as conductor will in turn be the stars of the programme Utopia, which includes the eponymous work by Sofía Martínez, as well as Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 (“Classical”).
Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, featuring Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide and the Jove Capella Reial de Catalunya under the baton of Lluís Vilamajó, complete L’Auditori de Barcelona’s programme for the occasion.
The Gran Teatre del Liceu will host three events. On 5 March Josep Pons will conduct the theatre’s orchestra in a programme featuring Hungarian and Slavic dances by Brahms, Dvořák, Kodály, Bartók and Borodin.
The Spanish premiere of Lessons in Love and Violence – an opera by George Benjamin and Martin Crimp – featuring staging by Katie Mitchell and the voices of Stéphane Degout, Georgia Jarman, Daniel Okulitch and Peter Hoare, will be conducted by Josep Pons.
The final operatic touch will be provided by the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new production of Othello conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and featuring a luxury cast starring Gregory Kunde, Krassimira Stoyanova and Carlos Álvarez in the lead roles.
On this occasion, the Palau de la Música Catalana is concentrating on chamber music. Staying faithful to his commitment to this modernist venue, Grigory Sokolov will perform Chopin’s Quatre Polonaises and Rachmaninoff’s Ten Preludes, Op. 23.
The National Music Prize winning Cuarteto Quiroga returns to Barcelona to perform its show Pathos, featuring works by Mozart, Berg and Beethoven. The French ensemble Café Zimmermann, for its part, will perform Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos under the baton of Céline Frisch and Pablo Valetti, while Raphäel Pichon and his Ensemble Pygmalion will provide their interpretation of one of the most iconic works of all time: the Matthew Passion.
The festival will also include another outstanding piano event presented by Ibercamera: Daniil Trifonov will perform a programme entirely devoted to the composer from Leipzig at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
Finally, the Orquestra Camera Musicae, which has been a member of Barcelona Obertura since 2020, will give two performances of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, with Guillermo García Calvo as guest conductor and Pablo Sáinz Villegas on the guitar. The concert will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the premiere of this masterpiece for guitar in this same hall.
Obertura City+: a Model of Commitment
This year’s festival includes 27 free concerts as part of the Obertura City+ series, once again with special support from Barcelona City Council. The concerts, which will be spread out throughout the city’s ten districts, will resurrect the three main themes that could not be realised in 2020 edition due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This rescheduling is proof of Barcelona Obertura’s commitment to local musicians at a time when constant concert cancellations are seriously harming self-employed workers.
• The Universe of Robert Gerhard: Six concerts dedicated to the great Catalan composer have been scheduled as part of the events to be held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death. These will focus both on his own works and on those of other similar composers.
• European Fusion: This heading encompasses those concerts that, instead of focusing on the great European pieces of the last few centuries, seek to look at lesser-known works of the Old Continent’s musical legacy.
• Beethoven and his 32 Piano Sonatas: On the weekend of 4, 5 and 6 June, several venues in Montjuïc (the National Museum, the Miró Foundation, CaixaForum and the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, as well as the Liceu Conservatory) will host ten concerts featuring performances of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas by young pianists, most of whom have trained in Catalonia. These essential works in the history of music had not been scheduled to be performed in full in Barcelona for 50 years. The series is a joint initiative with the Maria Canals International Music Competition.
Fahmi Alqhai, Llŷr Williams, Noelia Rodiles, Marc Heredia, Barcelona Clarinet Players, Cosmos Quartet, Quartet Altimira and Josep-Ramon Olivé are some of the most notable artists taking part in the programme, which also includes groups from the Gran Teatre del Liceu and L’Auditori de Barcelona resident ensembles, as well as Liceu Conservatory and Catalonia College of Music (ESMUC) students. It features 29 concerts with around 80 musicians in 20 different venues. Some of these venues, such as the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), Casa Batlló, the Miró Foundation, La Model prison, the Auditori de Sant Martí and the Zona Nord, Pere Pruna, La Sedeta and Fort Pienc civic centres, also took part in 2019.
CASA SEAT is joining as a new venue this year, and those that signed up for the first time in 2020 – the Tàpies Foundation, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), CaixaForum and the Can Basté, La Sagrera and Matas Ramis civic centres – are also taking part.
All the concerts in the Barcelona Obertura Spring Festival and the Obertura City+ series will be held in strict compliance with the health restrictions stipulated by the relevant authorities. Entry will be staggered, and attendees will have their temperature taken and will be given hand sanitiser to use.
Tickets to the festival are available to purchase from the website
Aleix Palau | 1 March 2021
L’Auditori de Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Gran Teatre del Liceu present a new edition of the Barcelona Obertura Spring Festival
L’Auditori de Barcelona, the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Gran Teatre del Liceu present a new edition of the Barcelona Obertura Spring Festival, organised by Barcelona’s leading music institutions together with Barcelona Global and supported by Barcelona City Council through the Regional Department of Tourism and Creative Industries and the Barcelona Institute of Culture (ICUB).