The UAB to award a new honorary doctorate
The UAB will award an honorary doctorate to musician Josep Pons, music director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, in a ceremony which will take place at the UAB Auditorium on Wednesday 7 April at 12 noon. The event will offer limited seating due to the pandemic, and will also be streamed live on the UAB's YouTube channel.
-Josep Pons is considered "one of the most important Spanish conductors of his generation" and a figure who "has opened to new ways of making music heard, by introducing cross-cutting visions and projecting them towards other genres".
-He was principal conductor of the Ciudad de Granada Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra and Choir (2003-2012), and since 2012 is the music director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu Orchestra.
The UAB will award an honorary doctorate to musician Josep Pons Viladomat, music director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu since 2012. He was proposed for the award by the Faculty Arts and Humanities in recognition for “his commitment to the musical panorama in Catalonia, for his contributions in recovering and disseminating the musical heritage of Spain, for his support to contemporary composers and new generations of instrumentalists, for his creation of innovative and excellent projects, and for his efforts to open up the musical scene to new audiences of the 21st century".
The award ceremony will by held on Wednesday 7 April at 12 noon at the UAB Auditorium, located at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Professor Francesc Cortès, the sponsor of Josep Pons, will offer a speech highlighting the merits of the UAB's newest honorary doctor. Following, UAB Rector Javier Lafuente will award Josep Pons a diploma and medal. Josep Pons will then pronounce his acceptance speech in a master class entitled "Qui soc. Com soc. Què faig." [Who Am I. How Am I. What Do I Do.]. Following his speech, a fragment of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, conducted by Josep Pons, will be shown performing "El amor brujo" by Manuel de Falla. The ceremony will end with the performance of Gaudeamus Igitur. The event will include a small amount of people due to the current health restrictions and will be broadcast live on the UAB's YouTube channel.
A long and eventful professional career
Considered one of the most renowned conductors of his generation, Josep Pons Viladomat is the principal conductor of the Gran Teatre del Liceu Orchestra. Born in the town of Puig-reig (Berguedà), at nine he enrolled in the famous Escolania de Montserrat boys' choir, where he began his musical training. He then went on to study at the Municipal Conservatory of Barcelona, where he studied composition with Josep Soler and conducting with Antoni Ros-Marbà.
In 1985 he founded the Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra with Fabià Puigserver, from where he focused on a repetoire of 20th-century composers (Falla, Schönberg), strictly contemporary composers (Benjamin) and Catalan composers (Gerhard, Gols, Casablancas, Amargós, els dos Guinovart, Mompou, Montsalvatge, etc.). Among his recordings from that period are the opera Pepita Jiménez by Isaac Albéniz, based on the edition made by Josep Soler. During that time, he also continued to direct choirs, such as the Carmina Choir (1988-1990).
In 1993 he founded the National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia. He is now an honorary conductor of the National Spanish Orchestra and Choir, and of the Ciudad de Granada Orchestra, of which he was the artistic and principal conductor. He was also the executive music director of the Barcelona Olympic Games of 1992.
In 1999 he was awarded the National Music Prize by the Spanish Ministry for Culture. He is a full member of the Royal Catalan Academy of Fine Arts and in 2019 he was awarded the Gold Medal in Fine Arts. He has recorded over 50 titles for Harmonia Mundi France and Deutsche Grammophon, and has received numerous awards including a Grammy, Cannes Classical Awards, Grand Prix de l’Academie Charles Cross, Diapason d’Or and Choc de la Musique.
He regularly conducts the main orchestras and performs in the best music halls around the world, and he maintains a continuous relationship with the orchestras of Paris, the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham, the Gewandhauss of Leipzig, the Staastskapelle of Dresden, the NHK of Tokyo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he has made several appearances on the BBC Proms.
His debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu was in 1993 and since 2012 he is the principal conductor of its orchestra, in charge of projecting it internationally.
Committed to the culture of his country, Josep Pons has worked hard on recovering emblematic partitures, such as the opera La Fattucchiera (1838) by Vicenç Cuyàs, which was re-premiered at the Liceu in October 2001, and edited for the Columna Música record label. Before becoming the principal conductor, Josep Pons premiered the opera Joan Guinjoan “Gaudí“ (2004) and “Don Quijote en Barcelona” by José Luis Turina (1999) at the Gran Liceu. In the 2018-2019 season, he directed the world premiere of “L’enigma di Lea” with booklet by R. Argullol and music by Benet Casablancas.
Sponsor, Francesc Cortès
Josep Pons' sponsor, Francesc Cortès, is chair professor of the Department of Art and Musicology. His PhD thesis focused on Felip Pedrell and has specialised in contemporary music, dedicating different research projects to the study and recovery of lirical repertoire. He directs the cataloguing and digitalisation project of the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu archive. He has been visiting professor at the universities of Melbourne, Reims and Napoles II and is main researcher at the Music in Contemporary Societies research groups.
Relation with the UAB
With regard to his relation with the UAB, with the Department of Art and Musicology and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Josep Pons took part in the assessment of the opera courses "Òpera Oberta" organised by the Gran Teatre del Liceu, in which UAB students also participated. He was also invited to give the master class at the inauguration of the 2015/16 academic year at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
The UAB Governing Council had approved the award on 30 October 2019, but the Covid19 pandemic made it impossible to hold an awards ceremony as planned in April 2020. This is the first institutional event that the UAB will celebrated with a limited number of people attending, in compliance with the current health restrictions