BARCELONA’S CONCERT HALL CELEBRATES 100th ANNIVERSARY
Palau de la Música Has Year-Long Program of Events, Concerts, Exhibitions

Barcelona’s Palau de la Música, the city’s striking Modernist concert hall (and UNESCO world heritage site) is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a year-long slate of events, art exhibitions, concerts and other cultural projects. More than 40 of the city’s arts, cultural and sporting organizations are mounting special events for the anniversary.

Considered one of Europe’s top concert halls, the Palau will stage a series of special concerts that kicked off in February and will continue through March 2009. Evoking the building’s history and the many genres of music performed there – from classical and jazz to Catalan and World – a variety of well-known singers and artistic groups will perform including: Bobby McFerrin and the Orfeó Català (May 9); Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar (June 1); the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and the Orfeó Català with the Palau’s Chamber Choir (June 9); Sónar (June 21); the Pat Metheny Trio and Enrique Morente (July 8); the Madrid Orchestra and Choir with the Palau’s Chamber Choir (November 16); Joan Manuel Serrat (February 10, 2009), and the Royal Philharmonic of Galicia with the Orfeó Català (March 9, 2009).

Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner for the Orfeó Català Choral Society, the Palau de la Música, with its curving, dynamic forms and rich decoration, is one of the most important works of Catalan Modernisme. The architect, along with Gaudí, was one of the chief proponents of this style. Built between 1905 and 1908, the concert hall’s brick façade is fancifully-decorated with colored tiles, mosaics and colonnades. The columns are covered in multicolored glazed tile, adorned with ornamental sculptures and topped with candelabrum that blaze with light in the evenings. By day, light streams in from the 43-foot-high ceiling courtesy of Rigalt i Granell’s enormous skylight of blue stained glass – in its center, an inverted dome of gold glass evokes the sun – and from tall stained-glass windows set in magnificent arches. Framing the stage on either side are richly-carved stone figures; on the right, horses rear from the rafters in a scene from Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” while to the left a group of male and female singers symbolize Catalan music. At the back of the stage are 18 elaborately-carved “muses,” their upper bodies “twisting” in high relief while their lower torsos form part of the mosaic background. Modernist artists such as Eusebi Arnau, Miquel Blay, Lluís Brú and Pau Gargallo designed the riot of sculptural and floral motifs for both the interior and the facade. Every year more than 350 concerts are hosted here as well as business events, congresses and conferences.

For the 2007-2008 season, the regular program of the Palau’s Cycle 100 will include special concerts: the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paavo Järvi (April 17); the China Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Long Yu (May 5) and the joint concert of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century and the Orfeó Català, conducted by Frans Brüggen, featuring soprano Violet Serana Wilke, mezzo soprano Te Brummelstroete, tenor Anders J. Dahlin and baritone David Wilsons-Johnson (April 21).

Through sounds and images, a multi-media exhibition at the CaixaForum Center will take viewers on a “stroll” through “100 Years of the Palau .” Running through May, the show focuses on the architecture, concerts and celebrations the Palau has hosted. From March through April 30, the Palau Robert will present: “One Hundred Years, 50 people,” highlighting the contribution of the people who have played such relevant roles in the building’s history. And from April 24 to June 24, Galician sculptor Francisco Leiro will display a series of giant sculptures in front of the Palau .