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Montserrat Figueras

About this Artist

MONTSERRAT FIGUERAS is an outstanding performer in a vast vocal repertoire that spans the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. She was born in Barcelona into a family of music lovers. From a very early age she worked with Enric Gispert and Ars Musicae, and studied singing with Jordi Albareda as well as taking theatre courses. In 1966, she began studying early singing techniques, from the troubadours to the Baroque, developing a highly individual approach which draws directly on original sources, both historical and traditional, unfettered by the influences of the post-Romantic school. In 1967 she joined Jordi Savall as an artistic and life partner in a relationship that has proved particularly fruitful in a range of teaching, research and creative activities. Working together in that way has made its mark on both of them, this being particularly evident in the way they have renewed a certain performing style, featuring both great fidelity to historical sources and a remarkable creative and expressive potential that has influenced the development of the entire early-music movement.

In 1968, Figueras pursued her musical training in Basel (Switzerland) under Kurt Widmer, Andrea von Rahm, and Thomas Binkley at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Musikakedemie. In the 1970s, Figueras rose to eminence as one of a generation of musicians who realized that vocal music before 1800 required a new technical and stylistic approach capable of restoring the necessary balance between singing and declamation to the beauty and emotion of the voice – that most human of all forms of expression – with an emphasis on the poetic and spiritual dimension of the text.

From 1974 to 1989 she was a founder member of the ensembles Hespèrion XX, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and Le Concert des Nations. With them, and also as a soloist, she has set about reclaiming an outstanding and wide-ranging musical heritage. As a result, a great deal of unjustly forgotten music has been brought back to life, notably in her magical performances of the ancient Cant de la Sibil·la and the Tonos Humanos by José Marín, as well as her more recent Ninna Nanna, the Misteri d’Elx and Isabel I de Castella and her crucial roles in the CDs Diáspora Sefardí (1999), the Battaglie & Lamenti by Monteverdi, Peri, Fontei and Strozzi (2000), Don Quijote de la Mancha: Romances y Músicas (2005), and Christophorus Columbus. Lost Paradises (2006).

Montserrat Figueras performs regularly in the main festivals of Europe, America and the East. The 70-plus CDs she has made have won many awards, such as the “Grand Prix de l’Académie du Disque Français,” the “Edison Klasik,” the “Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque,” and the “Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cross,” and Grammy nominations in 2001 and 2002, while the French government conferred the honorary title of “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” on her in 2003. Her latest record, Lux Feminae (Alia Vox, 2006), which is devoted to the musical universe of Hispanic women over a time scale ranging from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, has met with praise from critics at home and abroad.

In 2008 Montserrat Figueras was appointed an “Artist for the Peace” for the good will Ambassador’s program of the UNESCO.