Liceu hires Spanish music director: shock
11th Oct 2010
Gig news staff
Category: Other News
The Liceu opera house in Barcelona has appointed a native Spaniard as its music director for the first time in over 50 years. Josep Pons, who has headed the Orquesta Nacional de España since 2003, will take up the post in September 2012.
Pons, 53, has signed an initial contract for six seasons, with an option to extend for two more ‘by mutual agreement’. The conductor has built a reputation for the music of his native country, having recorded the complete works of Manuel de Falla on Harmonia Mundi. At the 1996 Cannes Classical Awards, he received the Publishers’ Award for his recording of Albéniz’ opera Pepita Jiménez. Pons’ contract allows for his input regarding the Liceu’s programming, and the hiring of guest conductors.
Pons’ appointment is a coup for general director Joan Francesc Marco, who arrived at the opera house in 2008. Since his arrival, Marco has endeavoured to improve the opera’s international standing, as well as the artistic quality of the Liceu’s orchestra and chorus.
‘Artistically, the orchestra and choir have hit a major leap forward and has set a very exciting standard for the musicians,’ Pons told the ABC news site. ‘We have kept up the subscriptions and increased ticket sales ... The [economic] crisis has affected us all in the cut tour plan.’
The Liceu’s last Spanish music director was its first, Ernest Xancó, who conducted the orchestra from 1959 to 1961. Before that time, the Liceu had no designated music director.