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World premiere at L’Auditori de Barcelona of the “Cinc pregàries” by Bernat Vivancos.

This Saturday, 19 February, the Auditori de Barcelona is offering an out-of-season concert featuring two works by Jean Sibelius, The Oceanides, op. 73 (from 1913) and his Symphony No. 7 in C, op. 105 (from 1924), but with the Spanish premiere of Oltra Mar (1999) by Kaija Saariaho and, above all, the world premiere of Cinc pregàries by Bernat Vivancos (Barcelona, 1973), a work for soprano and orchestra that will be performed by the soprano Núria Rial (Manresa, 1975) and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Barcelona y Nacional de Cataluña (OBC), conducted by the Finnish conductor Anna Maria Helsing (Södertälje, Sweden, 1971).

Vivancos is one of the four guest composers of the Auditori in the 2021-22 season, which began with the premiere, on 17 September, of U. The Spanish composer, who was musical director of the Escolania de Montserrat between 2007 and 2014, became known to the general public with the arrangement he made at the 2019 Goya Awards gala for Me quedo contigo, the song by Los Chunguitos performed on that occasion by Rosalía, accompanied by the Cor Jove de l’Orfeó Català.

Vivancos shares with the other two Finnish composers on the programme the Nordic influence on his work which, in his case, came about when he discovered the music of the Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen (Oslo, 1949) in 2000, which prompted him to move to the Norwegian capital to further his studies with him.

Cinc pregàries is commissioned by Barcelona Creació together with the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Auditori and, as the composer says by telephone, “after writing some very complex works, like the one premiered by the OBC in September in Barcelona, U, for large orchestra, which was a very advanced work on an aesthetic level, with microtonality, this time I wanted to do a slightly calmer and quieter work, a very austere and modest piece, something very simple”.

The Cinc pregàries are composed for soprano voice and, expressly, for the voice of Núria Rial: “hers is a voice I know very well, so you could say that it is tailor-made for her”, Vivancos assures us. For these five prayers, the composer has used Catalan language, “which is how I express my prayers; they are the most typical and clichéd prayers, the ones that everyone prays or, if not, at least knows”.

The orchestra is made up only of strings, with harp, and very simple percussion: only tubular bells and tam tam and all the orchestration has, as Vivancos explains, “a very discreet role, to simply envelop the voice, with an almost modal language. The intention was to make very simple and austere works, which is how I conceive these prayers should be said or expressed”.

© Photograph by Josep Maria Balaguè downloaded from the Bernat Vivancos website.