Maestro Josep Pons will conduct the traditional UN concert on 9 December with an excellent musical repertoire including pieces by Beethoven, Strauss and Händel.
Organised by the ONUART Foundation and produced by MEDIAPRO, the concert is dedicated to peace among peoples and will pay homage to the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe.
The link between the United Nations and the Liceu goes back to Maestro Pau Casals, who was a cellist at the Liceu and composed the UN’s hymn as a universal symbol of peace.
Barcelona, 22 November 2017
On 9 December, the Gran Teatre del Liceu Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Josep Pons, will perform the Concert for Peace and Human Rights organised by the ONUART Foundation and produced by Mediapro, which will broadcast it around the world from the United Nations. For the fourth year in a row, the concert will be performed in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilisations Room at the United Nations under the great dome created by Miquel Barceló, which was conceived as a metaphor for what the United Nations represents.
The relationship giving rise to this event is
the link between the Liceu, Maestro Pau Casals and the United Nations. After becoming a cellist at the Liceu at the age of 20, Casals composed the hymn of the United Nations, which he first performed on 24 October 1971, at the same time that the UN awarded him the Peace Medal. This is why the Liceu Orchestra feels especially honoured to be part of this concert, which aims to defend peace between peoples now more than ever. It also pays homage to the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Europe, including those in Barcelona and Cambrils.
Since 2014, this concert has become an internationally important event for advocating human rights around the world. In the last two years, Daniel Barenboim has conducted the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Miquel Barceló’s dome in the UN Office at Geneva. Juan Diego Flórez and Pretty Yende performed in the concert that launched this initiative in 2014 with the Harmonia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pablo Mielgo.
This year, the concert will begin with the music of Georg Friedrich Händel, a citizen on the world. A German trained in Italy, he rose to fame in England, where he first performed “Ombra mai fù”, the opening aria of the opera Serse (Xerxes) in 1738. Chinese mezzo-soprano Huiling Zhu will perform the piece, one of the composer’s best known and adapted melodies, which speaks of the harmony between nature and man.
We also find humanity in the Lieder by Richard Strauss, his final composition. Written in 1948 at the age of 84, these four last songs could be understood as his musical testament. Vier letze Lieder (The Four Last Songs), with poems by Hermann Hesse (Frühling (Spring), September (September), Beim Schlafengehen (When Falling Asleep) and a fourth poem by Joseph von Eichendorff, Im Abendrot (At Sunset), deal with death and destiny. Even though Strauss was never able to attend the debut of these songs, they immediately became one of his most sensitive and sublime musical compositions. Canadian soprano Erin Wall will provide the vocals under the dome created by the artist Miquel Barceló.
Another person who understood this universal language, addressed to all humankind, was Ludwig van Beethoven, who invited us to unite men and women in a song of hope with his Ninth Symphony’s “Ode to Joy”. His Seventh Symphony in A major, which can be heard in this unique concert put on by the Liceu Symphony Orchestra under its music director, also points to this idea. An apotheosis of dance, as Wagner defined it—a song to all humankind, to unite under the power of music, the only art that can dissolve borders, break down walls and reach the senses and feelings that are part of the human condition.
The Gran Teatre del Liceu and especially its Symphony Orchestra, the first created in Spain, consider it an honour to be able to perform in this concert in the United Nations Office at Geneva. The relationship that gives rise to it was forged by Maestro Pau Casals, who became a cellist at the Liceu at the age of 20 and composed the hymn of the United Nations, which he first performed on 24 October 1971, at the same time that the UN awarded him the Peace Medal. This relationship is not overlooked during this important event.
The Concert for Peace and Human Rights, which is internationally broadcast from the United Nations Office by MEDIAPRO, began in 2014 and has already become an important event for advocating human rights around the world. In the last two years, Daniel Barenboim has conducted the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Miquel Barceló’s dome in the UN Office at Geneva. Juan Diego Flórez and Pretty Yende performed in the concert that launched this initiative in 2014, with the Harmonia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pablo Mielgo.
Gran Teatre del Liceu Symphony Orchestra
The Gran Teatre del Liceu Symphony Orchestra is the oldest orchestra in Spain. During almost 170 years of history, the Gran Teatre del Liceu Symphony Orchestra has been directed by some of the greatest conductors, from Arturo Toscanini to Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Hans Knapperstsbusch, Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, Richard Strauss, Alexander Glazunov, Ottorino Respighi, Pietro Mascagni, Igor Stravinsky, Manuel de Falla and Eduard Toldrà, and even Riccardo Muti and Kirill Petrenko in our own day. It has performed premieres of the great opera repertoires in the Iberian Peninsula, from the Baroque period to the present, and has paid special attention to Catalan lyrical production throughout its history.
It debuted in 1847 with a symphony concert conducted by Marià Obiols. Its first opera was Anna Bolena by Donizetti. Since then, it has performed continuously during all the seasons of the Liceu. After the reconstruction in 1999, its directors were Bertrand de Billy (1999-2004), Sebastian Weigle (2004-2008), Michael Boder (2008-2012) and Josep Pons, its most recent director, who began in September 2012.
Considered one of the most important conductors of his generation, Josep Pons (Puig-reig, 1957) has built strong bonds with orchestras such as the Gewandhauss of Leipzig, the Staastkapelle of Dresden, the Orchestre de Paris, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he has performed several times at the BBC Proms in London. He has been the music director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu since 2012 and is also an honorary conductor of the National Orchestra and Chorus of Spain. He has been the principal and artistic director of the City of Granada Orchestra and was the founder of the Chamber Orchestra of the Teatre Lliure de Barcelona and of the National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia. He was the musical director of the Barcelona Olympic ceremonies in 1992. He was granted the National Music Award by the Spanish Ministry of Culture in 1999 and is an academic at the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts (Royal Catalan Academy of Fine Arts). He has recorded over 50 titles for Harmonia Mundi and for Deutsche Grammophon, having obtained the highest distinctions: Grammy, Cannes Classical Awards, Grand Prix de l’Academie Charles Cross, Diapason d’Or and Choc de la Musique. He debuted at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in 1993. This season he will direct the productions Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner and Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod.
The ONUART Foundation was established in 2007 by an important group of major Spanish companies and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to promote a stronger bond between contemporary art and international organisations, supporting the idea that art is a powerful engine for development and promotion in society. At the same time, the Foundation also focuses on defending human rights and on giving a prominent role to art in that effort. In 2008, ONUART promoted the creation of the most important and innovative work of art at the United Nations: Miquel Barceló’s famous dome. To do so, the Foundation also obtained support to completely renovate Room XX in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. In recognition of this great effort, the United Nations renamed the room the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilisations Room. By bestowing this name, the United Nations rewarded the ONUART Foundation, affirming the value of its ideas and initiatives. Art gives an added bonus to the activities carried out in the room. Since 2014, the ONUART Foundation has been organising the Concert for Peace and Human Rights in the Palais des Nations. It is performed in this room because of what it means, symbolising the union of music and painting in favour of political understanding among the nations.
The MEDIAPRO Group occupies a leading position in the European audiovisual sector. The Group is committed to innovation in all its fields of activity and in the search for new audiovisual languages. A content producer and distributor with 45 offices on four continents, it covers activities ranging from technical engineering to sports rights management, the provision of technical services, film production, museum space production and design, signal transmission, thematic channel production and design and marketing consulting. It has worked with directors such as Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, Jean Jacques Annaud, Roman Polanski, Fernando León de Aranoa and Isabel Coixet. Support for culture is a constant goal at the MEDIAPRO Group, which takes the form of various projects, such as all the museographic and exhibition activity undertaken by the Mediapro Exhibitions division. Starting with a series of overwhelming achievements in sports museography, Mediapro Exhibitions has expanded its field of action into other areas such as science, gastronomy, architecture and art. Using a new, contemporary and technological language, MEDIAPRO is leading different cultural projects with a global scope and a common denominator: to surprise, connect with and captivate audiences regardless of their social status, geographical location or cultural background.