On Sunday, 25 October, the Barcelona Symphony Band will be returning to L’Auditori de Barcelona’s Hall 1 Pau Casals to perform a programme featuring works by Johan de Meij and James Curnow, as well as Jacob de Haan’s breathtaking Book of Urizen.
The concert will be conducted by José R. Pascual-Vilaplana and, in the case of this last work, will also feature the acclaimed Catalan soprano Maria Hinojosa, with Moisés Évora as the narrator.
The concert kicks off with Johan de Meij’s Spring overture, which tells us about the magical arrival of spring in Sweden based on two traditional Swedish songs. The first section of the concert ends with James Curnow’s Canticle of the Creatures, a suite inspired by the works of St Francis of Assisi based on his love for all creatures, the musical expression of a cosmogony describing the sun, the moon, the stars, fire and Mother Earth.
The Book of Urizen, a visionary poem by the multifaceted English writer William Blake (1757-1827), is the thread that pervades Jacob de Haan’s work of the same name, a combination of the Books of Genesis and Exodus from the Bible, with the characters of a cosmogony written by Blake himself – Enitharmon, Los and Orc – in which Urizen is the unity of wisdom and the law.
José R. Pascual-Vilaplana, the principal conductor of the Barcelona Symphony Band, explains the concert like this:
“Searching for the origin of humanity has been an essential motivator for philosophers and artists since time immemorial. The empirical experience of observing nature makes us ask questions about the magnificence of everything around us without really knowing why.
Spring (2009), an overture by the Dutch master Johan de Meij (1953), evokes the colours and atmospheres of spring in Sweden. Perhaps spring is the time of year that invites rebirth and shows us the origin of nature in a cruder manner. Various Swedish folk tunes are put through De Meij’s language to describe the reawakening of life symbolised by echoed textures and joyous, frenzied rhythms. This rite of passage of nature and respect for it as God’s creation formed the basis for the famous religious song Canticle of the Creatures, written by St Francis of Assisi between late 1224 and early 1225. Based on some of the verses of this work of poetry, the American master James Curnow (1943) proposes an eclectic suite of six movements written in as many styles or approaches ranging from textural to modal music, dodecaphony or polytonality, among others. In truth, the score is quite a compendium of music creation techniques ranging from the origin of the earliest forms of polyphony (similar to those that may have been heard by St Francis himself in Assisi) to modern works. Curnow’s music thus recreates in the form of sound the Italian saint’s description of nature in one of the earliest known texts defending the need to protect it.
And, where nature did not provide easy answers to explain the things around us, mythology produced stories somewhere between legend and empiricism. An attempt at exploration within epistemology and ontology is revealed in the book of poems The Book of Urizen, written by the English poet, painter and engraver William Blake (1757-1827) in 1974. This kind of reinterpretation of Genesis mixing and merging stories from both the Bible and the Quran tells the story of Ulysses, a messiah of sorts who represents wisdom and the law. This poetic narrative is presented inside a large-scale musical packaging by the Dutch master Jacob de Haan (1959), one of the most prolific and widely performed composers of concert band music in the world.
In this hugely original creation, concert band music is combined with specific recorded music and the voices of a soprano and a narrator. In addition, you will be able to enjoy some of the burin engravings made by Blake himself for his book of poems. A variety of influences ranging from incidental music to musical theatre or opera can be found in De Haan’s music.
Three works about the journey to the origin of who we are, from the empiricism of observing nature and reflecting about the things around us in different ways. And all this with the aim of reaffirming and consolidating the ongoing project for the future that motivates our lives. In this life journey, music becomes baggage for the soul, nourishing it, making it reflect and filling it with sensations. Furthermore, the music created in all three works shows the versatility of the language of concert band music, a language for discovering, vindicating and reinventing. Enjoy the journey, everyone”.
The concert will be streamed live on L’Auditori Digital* this Sunday at 6 pm.
*L’Auditori Digital subscription, just €1 for the first month.
Music never stops at L’Auditori de Barcelona
In view of the new safety measures established by the competent bodies, L’Auditori de Barcelona would like to remind you that our programme will continue as planned, as the legislation issued by the Department of Health does not affect upcoming concerts. We would also like to emphasise that L’Auditori de Barcelona is observing the 50% capacity limit, as well as all other containment measures set forth in the sectoral plans governing the operation of cultural facilities.
Members of the audience must therefore wear face masks at all times, both when entering the building and during the concert. Furthermore, social distancing must be observed in accordance with the health authorities’ instructions, and the lift may only be used by a single person at a time. In addition, no programmes or leaflets will be handed out. Instead, these can be found on the website and using the QR codes displayed throughout L’Auditori, and there will be no cloakroom service. The café and restaurant service will be closed from this weekend, and concerts will be performed without an interval.
L’Auditori de Barcelona is an institution that complies with all the guidelines, ensuring that culture reaches everyone safely.
Aleix Palau | 23 October 2020
The Barcelona Symphony Band performs The Book of Urizen with José R. Pascual-Vilaplana and María Hinojosa
Jacob de Haan’s epic work for concert band, soprano and narrator.
The soprano María Hinojosa returns to L’Auditori de Barcelona to sing this work, accompanied by Moisés Évora as the narrator.
The programme, which can be enjoyed on Sunday at 6 pm in Hall 1 Pau Casals and streamed live on L’Auditori Digital, also includes works by Johan de Meij and James Curnow.