- Posted by Amy Bell
- On June 16, 2023
On the 5th of October 2023, the Barcelona Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO) will be performing a concert at London’s Cadogan Hall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of Pablo Casals, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.Laura Peribañez, one of the star performers – a former BSS scholarship winner and talented young cellist –shares a personal tribute to the great Casals, a role model in life and music.
The concert will be a unique opportunity for Londoners to witness the vibrant young musicians under the direction of Carlos Checa, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the BYSO, all the while reminiscing about Casals’ extraordinary life and enjoying a glass of wine at the iconic Chelsea venue.
Casals was an exceptional artist who left a lasting impact on the arts and society of the last century as he excelled not only as a cellist but also as a conductor, pedagogue, and humanist.
To honour his musical legacy, the BYSO will perform a programme that will include music by Pablo Casals himself, Johannes Brahms and Enrique Granados, who was a close friend of Casals. I will also join them on stage to perform Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei and El Cant dels Ocells (Song of the Birds) as a soloist.
We will also be playing this programme at Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona and l’Atlàntida de Vic in benefit of ‘Associació TEA/Asperger Osona’, on the 8th and 1st of October respectively. An additional outreach concert in the UK on the 6th of October is also in the works.
At the heart of this project lies our desire to strengthen the cultural ties between the UK and Spain while highlighting the educational values and commitment to peace and human rights that were so important to Pablo Casals. It will also be an invaluable opportunity for artistic and professional growth for the young musicians of the orchestra, as it will give them the motivation they need to keep working hard in order to forge a future as classical music performers.
The Barcelona Youth Symphony Orchestra is an “educational and musical training project for young instrumentalists, with the aim of providing complementary training to musical education through orchestral practice in a symphonic ensemble. It affords future professionals the opportunity to develop technical and artistic skills by offering an atmosphere of social interaction that will favour a comprehensive educational experience for young musicians”.
Carlos Checa Casals had a close relationship with the UK, a country that he regularly visited to perform, record and conduct. He frequented venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall (previously known as Bechstein Hall) and collaborated with renowned British musicians such as Frank Bridge, Sir Donald Francis Tovey and Sir Adrian Boult, among others. Casals is well-known for bringing the magnificent Bach Cello Suites to life and for being the first cellist to ever record them. The first part of this historic recording took place at Abbey Road Studios in November 1936, amidst the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War, and included the 2nd and 3rd Bach Suites. Additionally, he performed with and conducted major British orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Some of our older BSS members hold dear in their memories being part of a ‘lleno hasta la bandera’ at the Royal Festival Hall on the 29 September 1963 for the first British performance of Casals’s oratorio El Pessebre, given by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, and conducted by the composer.
El Pessebre (The Manger) was premiered in December 1960 in Acapulco, Mexico, in gratitude to the country for welcoming Spanish exiles. Two years later, in 1962 in San Francisco, Casals announced his Peace Crusade, which would take him to conduct his oratorio throughout the world to promote those causes that defended human dignity, human solidarity and world peace.
It’s an honour to be a part of such a valuable musical initiative, commemorating such an exemplary person, this autumn. Casals has always been a role model for me – in life and in music. I spent my childhood summers going to his summer house at El Vendrell, spending hours at the museum, and attending concerts at the Pau Casals Auditorium. The close association I have with Pau Casals and his legacy persisted throughout my education.
Back in 1895, Casals was a student of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, the same institution where I started my masters before moving to London in 2019. Through this project, I will have the opportunity to showcase some of my cultural heritage in the London music scene, and to celebrate the past, the present and the future in an unforgettable evening of music making.
I am grateful to the institutions that have offered their support and have entrusted us to bring this initiative to fruition. These include the Spanish Embassy in the UK, the Delegation of the Catalan Government and the Pau Casals Foundation, among other invaluable collaborators. We look forward to warmly welcoming our friends from the British Spanish Society to the performance on October 5th at Cadogan Hall, and for those in Barcelona, on the 8th in Palau de la Música Catalana. It will be an extraordinary ‘punto de encuentro’ that will foster unity among nations and celebrate the rising talent from Spain while also paying homage to the enduring legacy of the great Maestro Pablo Casals.
Tickets available to book here. I am happy to confirm that Cadogan has applied the following promo code on their website: CASALS50BSS It will apply a 15% discount to all BSS members.
Biographical Note on Pablo Casals (El Vendrell, 1876 – San Juan de Puerto Rico, 1973) At the age of twenty-three Casals enjoyed success in Paris at the hands of the great conductor Charles Lamoureux, beginning a brilliant career as a soloist that led him to play in the best concert halls in the world. In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, he moved to New York where he continued his concert tours. In 1919 he returned to Barcelona and founded the Pau Casals Orchestra. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War he fled to Prades, France, where he spent years in exile, and from 1957 onwards he lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he died in 1973, at the age of ninety-six. In November 1979, his remains were transferred to the cemetery in his hometown of El Vendrell. (Source: Fundació Pau Casals)