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  • WDCH
  • Feb. 13, 2008
  • Unique Collaboration Featuring Historical Texts and Poetry in Multiple Languages from the Iberian Peninsula Mark a First for the LA Phil’s Baroque Variations Presentation

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008, at 8 PM

    It’s an evening of firsts as multiple debuts and unique programming enlighten Walt Disney Concert Hall for the Christopher Columbus: Lost Paradises program on Wednesday, February 13, at 8 p.m. Under the direction of master viola da gamba player Jordi Savall, chamber ensemble Hespèrion XXI, choral group La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and soloists Montserrat Figueras (soprano), Manuel Forcano (narrator), Nestor Serrano (narrator), Begoña Olavide (voice and psaltry) and Driss El Maloumi (voice and oud), make their Walt Disney Concert Hall debuts as the journeys of Christopher Columbus and their impact on the Iberian Peninsula are presented through spoken word, music and song.

    In Classical Greek, “Hesperio” was used to refer to a person originating from either of the two most westerly peninsulas in Europe (Italian and Iberian). United by a common goal – the study and interpretation of ancient music according to new, modern criteria – gambist Savall and soprano Figueras founded Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Covering a span of nearly 100 years until after the discovery of the New World, the evening’s program represents the immense richness of the Hispanic and European musical repertoire before 1800.

    Mixing texts and poetry with the Arabo-Andalusian, Jewish and Christian music of Ancient Hesperia, the presentation features instrumental and choral works by Franco-Flemish, Spanish and Mexican composers, and readings from Spanish and Moroccan explorers, scholars and clergy members. The international flavor continues as the texts are narrated in their original languages including Latin, Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Nahuatl (Aztec) plus English, while the songs and villancicos (a common Iberian lyric form) are heard in Spanish, Catalan, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Quechua, Ladino and Italian.

    Historical perspectives using the writings of Christopher Columbus, his son Hernando Colón, Ibn Batuta, Andrés Bernáldez, Friar Bartolomé de las Casas and Salvador de Madariaga highlight and balance the music of Josquin des Près, Johannes Cornago, Luys del Milán, Juan del Enzina, Juan Pérez Bocanegra and Joan Arañés.

    An Upbeat Live pre-performance event, free to ticket-holders, is offered in BP Hall one hour prior to the concert. Daniel Kessner, composer, conductor, flutist and Emeritus Professor at Cal State Northridge, hosts.

    The remaining performances in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2007/08 Baroque Variations series include Europa Galante (Fabio Biondi, violin/director) on April 1, 2008, and Members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Thomas Adès, piano/conductor) on May 21, 2008.

    JORDI SAVALL is an exceptional figure in today’s music world. For more than 30 years he has been devoted to the rediscovery of neglected musical treasures through research, study and interpretation, both as gambist and musical director. He has restored an essential and neglected repertoire and created a wide audience for the viola da gamba. Together with Montserrat Figueras, he has founded three ensembles - Hespèrion XX, La Capella Reial and Le Concert des Nations, and together, they explore and create a world of beauty and emotion. One of the most multifariously gifted musicians of his generation, his career as a concert performer, teacher, researcher and creator of new projects, both musical and cultural, make him one of the principal architects of the current revaluation of historical music. The pivotal part he played in Alain Corneau’s film Tous les Matins du Monde (All the Mornings of the World), which won a César award for the best soundtrack, his intense concert activity (140 concerts per year), recording projects (six per year), and, the creation of his own record label, Alia Vox, have proved the appeal early music can and does have to an increasingly large and young audience. Savall has recorded over 160 CDs and has received numerous awards and distinctions including “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” (1988) from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication; the “Sant Jordi Cross” (1990) awarded by the Generalitat (Autonomous Government) of Catalonia; “Musician of the Year” (1992), awarded by Le Monde de la Musique; “Soloist of the Year” (1993) awarded by Victoires de la Musique; the “Gold Medal for Fine Arts” (1998) from the Spanish Ministry of Culture and the Arts; Honorary Member of the Konzerthaus, Vienna (1999); Doctor honoris causa of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium (2000); “Victoire de la Musique” in recognition of his professional achievements (2002); the Gold Medal of the Parliament of Catalonia (2003), and the German “Preise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik” (2003).

    MONTSERRAT FIGUERAS is an outstanding performer in a vast vocal repertoire that spans the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Born in Barcelona into a family of music-lovers, she performed at a young age with Enric Gispert and Ars Musicae, studying vocal performance with Jordi Albareda as well as dramatic interpretation. In 1966, she began studying early singing techniques, from the troubadours to the Baroque, developing a highly individual approach that draws directly on original sources, historical and traditional, unfettered by the influences of the post-Romantic school. Her artistic and personal union with Jordi Savall since 1967 has proved fruitful in the couple’s multiple teaching, research and creative activities. In the 1970s, Figueras rose to eminence with her technical and stylistic approach to vocal music before 1800; restoring the beauty and emotion of the voice with an emphasis on the text’s poetic and spiritual dimension. Between 1974 and 1989, Figueras was co-founder of the ensembles Hespèrion XX, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations. In conjunction with these ensembles and as a soloist, she has been instrumental in the rediscovery of a musical heritage as eclectic as it is exceptional. She has thus magically brought to life neglected music as the ancient Song of the Sibyl, the lullabies included in her recent recording Ninna Nanna, Misteri d’Elx and Isabel I, not forgetting her legendary performances of Trobayritz, Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Sephardic Ballads, Golden Age Cancioneros, Tonos Humanos of the Hispanic Baroque, and monographic programmes devoted to Milan, Mudarra, Narváez, Guerrero, Victoria, Marín, Merula, Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Caccini, Charpentier, Mozart (Requiem), and Sor plus the operas of Monteverdi (L’Orfeo) and Martín y Soler (Il Burbero di buon cuore and Una cosa rara). Figueras regularly performs at the major European, American and Asian music festivals. Her more than 60 CD recordings have received numerous awards and distinctions, including “Grand Prix de l’Académie du Disque Français,” “Edison Klasik,” “Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque” and “Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cross,” and two “Grammy Award” nominations (2001 and 2002); in 2003 she was awarded the distinction of “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government.

    Born in Agadir, Morocco, DRISS EL MALOUMI is one of the most talented oud players of his generation. Invited to participate in various festivals in Morocco and Europe, he leads us into a musical reverie that encompasses not only his Berber musical heritage but the oriental and western traditions beyond academic clichés. Maloumi is also known for his collaboration with Jordi Savall, Montserrat Figueras, Françoise Atlan and Hespèrion XXI, among others.

    BEGOÑA OLAVIDE is recognized internationally as a virtuoso psaltery player and as a pioneer in the revival of the psaltery as a living instrument. She began her musical career as a flutist, graduating from the Madrid Conservatory and taking further specialized courses in Holland, Yugoslavia and Spain. Her growing interest in the nexus between Spanish and Arab music led her to continue her musical development in Morocco, studying singing, qanún and theory of Maghrebi-Andalusian music.

    MANUEL FORCANO, poet, has been a teacher of Hebrew and Aramaic at the University of Barcelona. His poetry with classic and contemporary influence, has received great acceptance by the critics, winning different prizes like the International Tivoli Europe Award for “Com un Persa”(2001), and the Carles Riba Award of Poetry for “The Bagdad Train” (2003). Forcano’s knowledge of semitic languages has made him a constant translator of Hebrew poetry, for authors like Yehuda Amijai, Pinjas Sadé y Ronny Someck. The historical essay “The Crusades seen by the Jews” (Barcelona 2007) is his most recent publication.

    NESTOR SERRANO, a native New Yorker, started his acting career almost three decades ago at Queens College, where he was studying computer science. He joined the drama club to help him meet people and found a lifelong passion for the performing arts. Serrano quickly found himself working in Off-Off-Broadway playhouses (approximately 35 productions). He booked his first legitimate Off-Broadway job in Hal Prince’s musical Diamonds and shortly thereafter, he landed his first legitimate film role in The Money Pit starring Tom Hanks. Three Broadway shows and over 30 feature films later, Serrano has worked alongside some of Hollywood’s greatest talents, such as Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Nick Cage, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann and Michael Bay, just to name a few. Serrano can be seen in FOX’s hit 24 starring Keifer Sutherland and was in 2004’s summer blockbuster hit The Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhal. He was also in the thriller Runaway Jury opposite Gene Hackman and John Cusack, and two back-to-back films with Robert DeNiro, Showtime and City by the Sea. Serrano’s many theater credits include Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train on London’s West End, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Boys of Winter with Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes, Cuba and His Teddy Bear with Robert DeNiro and The Tempest with Patrick Stewart.

    In 1974, Jordi Savall, Montserrat Figueras, Lorenzo Alpert and Hopkinson Smith founded the ensemble Hespèrion XX, now HESPÈRION XXI. In its 30 years of existence, the group has, in collaboration with other outstanding performers, rescued numerous works and programmes from oblivion, thus contributing to a major reappraisal of the fundamental aspects of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque repertoires. From the moment it was created, Hespèrion XX has carried out an intense schedule of concert performances and regularly appears at the main international music festivals. In 2000, reflecting the advent of the new century, the group changed its name to Hespèrion XXI. The ensemble is known for its eclectic approach to the process of artistic decision-making: as 21st-century musicians, its members’ objectives are grounded in the search for a dynamic synthesis of musical expression, stylistic and historical research and creative imagination. The fascinating task of reconstructing the rich exuberance of music from other ages, specifically music composed from the 10th to the 18th century, has breathed new life into current musical thinking. Hespèrion XXI has toured and harvested the music of Europe, the Middle and the Far East, and the New World. The group’s recordings and live performances have enabled us to rediscover Sepharad through its interpretation of Judeo-Christian songs, Golden Age Spain, the Madrigals of Monteverdi and the Creole villancicos of Latin America. Among all their CDs, which include Cansós de Trobairitz, El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Diáspora Sefardí, Música napolitana, Música en el tiempo de Cervantes, El Barroco Español and Ostinato, as well as the monographic albums devoted to G. Gabrielli, G. Frescobaldi, S. Scheidt, W. Lawes, J. Cabanilles, F. Couperin and J. S. Bach, and the recent recordings of the music of A. Ferrabosco and music in the age of Queen Isabella I of Castile, are the most eloquent testimony to the wealth of possibilities offered by Hespèrion XXI.

    Convinced that a country’s cultural roots and traditions always have a decisive influence on the expression of its musical language, in 1987 Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras founded La Capella Reial, now LA CAPELLA REIAL DE CATALUNYA, one of the first vocal ensembles devoted to the interpretation of Hispanic Golden Age music according to historical principles, consisting exclusively of Hispanic and Latin voices. Following the model of the famous “royal chapels” for which the great masterpieces of both religious and secular music were composed in the Iberian Peninsula, this new “Capella Reial,” which in 1990 took the name of La Capella Reial De Catalunya, was born as the result of more than 13 years of research and interpretation in the field of early music. Together with Hespèrion XXI (founded in 1974), its main objective is to extend and deepen the fields of research into the specific characteristics of the Hispanic and European polyphonic vocal legacy before 1800. The hallmark of this ensemble is its approach to performance, balancing meticulous vocal sound quality and appropriateness to the style of the period with expressive diction and projection of the poetic text. Under the direction of Jordi Savall, the group has an intense schedule of concert performances and recordings and regularly attends music festivals around the world. The repertoire and major recordings, as reflected in its 25 CDs, range from the Cantigas of King Alfonso the Wise and the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat to Mozart’s Requiem, and include, among others, the Golden Age Cancioneros and the great masters of the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, such as Mateu Flecha, Cristóbal de Morales, Francisco Guerrero, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Joan Cererols, Claudio Monteverdi, H. I. von Biber and, more recently, El Misteri d’Elx and Narcís Casanovas. The ensemble participated in the soundtrack of Jacques Rivette’s film Jeanne la Pucelle, on the life of Joan of Arc, and has performed in the operas Una cosa rara, by Vicente Martín y Soler, and Orfeo, by Claudio Monteverdi, staged at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu in 1991 and 1993. Orfeo was also staged at Teatro Real in Madrid (2000), the Konzerthaus in Vienna (2001), the Teatro Reggio in Turin (2000) and once again at the newly rebuilt Liceu in Barcelona (2001), the latter production being recorded in a BBC-Opus Arte DVD. Since 1990, La Capella Reial de Catalunya has received the official support of the Generalitat, the Autonomous Government of Catalonia.
    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music, recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most remarkable places anywhere to experience music - Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the Association's involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational programs, community concerts and children's programming, ever seeking to provide inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience.


    Wednesday, February 13, 2008, at 8 PM

    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    Christopher Columbus: Lost Paradises

    HespÈrion XXI

    La Capella Reial de Catalunya

    Jordi Savall, viola da gamba/director

    Montserrat Figueras, soprano

    Manuel Forcano, narrator (Arabic, Latín, Aramaic and Hebrew)

    Nestor Serrano, narrator

    Begoña Olavide , voice/psaltry
    Driss El Maloumi, voice/oud

    An Upbeat Live pre-performance discussion, free to ticket-holders, is offered in BP Hall one hour prior to the concert. Daniel Kessner, composer, conductor, flutist and Emeritus Professor at Cal State Northridge, hosts.

    Tickets ($15 - $88) are on sale now online at, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. When available, choral bench seats ($15) are released for sale to selected Philharmonic, Colburn Celebrity Recital, and Baroque Variations performances two weeks prior to the concert. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Adam Crane, 213.972.3422,; Photos: 213.972.3034