Joan Magrané Figuera, percussionist and composer, has just been awarded the Queen Sofia Prize for Musical Composition by the Ferrer Salat Foundation for his piece entitled ... secret desolation ... The prize-winning piece is a composition for orchestra inspired by a poem by José Ángel Valente.
Joan Magrané began studying music at the Vila-Seca Conservatory and got into composing under Ramon Humet. He has also been a pupil of Agustí Charles and Beat Furrer at the Kunst Universität in Graz and has attended courses and master classes by Pierre Boulez, Klaus Huber, Helmut Lachenmann, Kaija Saariaho, Georges Aperghis, Martin Matalon and Hilda Paredes.
First of all, congratulations for the prize you have just won. What does this recognition mean for your professional career?
It is a great honour and a great joy because if it is not through a prize of this kind it is impossible to be able to make your debut with an orchestral work in this country. I very much appreciate being able to gain this experience, which I consider essential. All my composition teachers and so many others that I admire have also won it; it is a luxury to join this club! What’s more ... secret desolation ... is a work that I am very happy with. It is the result of intense and intensive work that had been shelved; I wrote it almost two years ago in Graz, Austria, where I was studying on an Erasmus grant.
Poetry and other references, above all concerning mysticism, play a crucial role in your compositions. What role do they play exactly? What do you use as a source of inspiration?
I understand musical creation as a constant cultural dialogue with other artistic disciplines. I normally begin with ideas that come from the inspiration that reading a poem has given me. I am a great admirer of José Ángel Valente but also of our great Pere Gimferrer – his books such as L’espai desert (The Deserted Space) and Aparicions (Appearances) have had a great impact on my way of understanding music. Apart from poetry and prose I also get inspiration from looking at paintings or sculptures, by for example Miquel Barceló or Juan Muñoz. Obviously, other musical works also provide the spark for imagining new music, especially early music, by Josquin or Monteverdi, Madrigals and the doctrine of the affections, or even Wagner. Indeed the first passage of ...secret desolation... owes a great deal to the prelude from Parsifal. Everything that I take from others greatly influences my work in a metaphorical but also a technical sense, because eventually it definitively affects all the compositional parameters: structure, interval, timbre, and so on.
Your work has been performed in cities in many different countries, such as Vienna, Paris and Rome. Do you believe that your work is more appreciated abroad than in Catalonia?
It is certainly easier to be taken seriously at home if you are performed abroad ... but that’s not something exclusive to music. I think that this “seeing the world and ending up back home” is something very useful and profitable for everyone, a journey to make that always opens horizons and broadens the mind. I personally can’t complain; in Catalonia I have received a lot of support (which after all is what encourages you to carry on), for example from BCN216, from the Joventuts Musicals de Banyoles (thanks to whom I was recently able to premiere my 2nd string quartet with the magnificent Quartet Gerhard) or the Ateneu Barcelonès and the CrossingLines Ensemble, whose artistic director is my fellow composer Luis Codera.
In recent weeks Luis Codera Puzo has been awarded the Ernst von Siemens Foundation Prize and you won the Queen Sofia Prize for Composition. Is it a golden age for the new Catalan composers?
Yes it is! And we owe it in large measure to our teachers, who led the way and who have been enormously generous with us. I have to thank Ramon Humet, Agustí Charles and Mauricio Sotelo for much of what I am as a composer. Thanks also to composers like Hèctor Parra, we can travel around Europe with our heads held high. An example of this is that, in fact with the support of the Institut Ramon Llull, he was able to take part in the recent Huddersfield Festival where he was resident composer and where my Assaig de cant òrfic was performed. What’s more, we are a very diverse generation, and that too makes a difference.
To end with, can you tell us something about your future projects?
Of course! The next things are two works that I will be performing for the first time in Paris: the first, in May, is a trio for flute, violin and cello for doctorate students of the Conservatory and which is based on the Traité du funambulisme by Philippe Petit, a recent find that has very pleasantly surprised me. The second, in whose composition I am totally engrossed, is another trio (violin, viola and cello) for the Ircam ManiFeste to be performed in July by soloists of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and it is a triptych inspired by pictorial sources, such as works by Dürer, Piero della Francesca and Duccio.
Interview with Joan Magrané, winner of the 2014 Reina Sofia Prize for Musical Composition
Cookies are small pieces of data that websites send to browsers and which are stored in users’ devices: computers, mobile telephones, tablets, and so on. Their purpose is to improve the experience of using the website, as these archives make it possible for the website to remember information about the user’s visits, such as preferred options or language. In this way the website personalizes its content and becomes more agile and useful for the user.
By browsing this website users agree to cookies being installed in their equipment that enable us to find out the following information:
Types of cookies
This website uses session, or temporary, cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies merely keep data while the user is visiting the website. Persistent cookies store the data on the device’s hard drive so that it will be accessible in more than one session.
Depending on the type of data obtained the website can use technical cookies.
These allow users to browse the webpage and use the different options or services it contains. For example, controlling data traffic and communication, identifying the session, entering restricted access areas, requesting enrolment or participation in an event, using security features while browsing and storing content.
These allow users to access the website with some general characteristics that are either already predefined in their hard drive or defined by the user. For example, the language, the type of browser used to access the website, the chosen content design, the geo-location of the device or the regional configuration from where access takes place.
Statistical analysis cookies
These make it possible to monitor and analyse the behaviour of visitors to the website. The information gathered is used to measure a website’s activity and to produce users’ browsing history, making it possible to improve the service.
Third party cookies
Third party cookies that manage and improve the services offered can also be installed. For example, statistics services like Google Analytics.
Managing the cookies in my browser
Users can allow, block or erase the cookies installed in their device by configuring the browsing options.