The Barcelona organist Montserrat Torrent and the Basque composer Gabriel Erkoreka have been awarded the National Music Prize in the performance and composition categories, respectively. These awards, which are awarded annually by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, are endowed with 30,000 euros each.
The jury, as reported by Inaem, has decided to award the prize to Montserrat Torrent “for her enormous capacity for work that has led her to cover areas as diverse as interpretation, research and dissemination, being one of the longest-lived active interpreters of the world”. The jury also highlighted “his work as a teacher, capable of creating a school that has inspired new generations of organists for decades.” Likewise, he has underlined “his tireless work both in the recovery of repertoire and in the restoration of historical organs; a good example is the recovery in process of the organ of the church of Sant Felip Neri in Barcelona. “
For its part, the jury has awarded the prize to Gabriel Erkoreka “for his brilliant career as a creator; for the richness of its compositional language in which the personal fusion of the sound of traditional Basque instruments stands out, features that are evident in works such as ‘Zuhaitz’ or ‘Basalt’ ». The jury also highlighted “the international projection of his music, programmed in important European seasons and festivals.”
Montserrat Torrent (Barcelona, 1926) is one of the most outstanding organists in our country and, at 95 years old, one of the longest-lived active performers in the world.
He began his musical training on the piano at an early age, under the direction of his mother, Angela Serra, disciple of Enrique Granados. He began his studies at the Marshall School in Barcelona and finished them at the Municipal Superior Conservatory of Music in that same city. The civil war interrupted his training, which he resumed with the obtaining of the superior title of piano under the direction of Blai Net and Carlos Pellicer. Later, he expanded his studies in Paris with Noelie Pierront, thanks to a grant from the French Institute; and in Siena with Ferdinando Germani and Helmuth Rilling, awarded a scholarship by the Juan March Foundation. Especially attracted by Iberian music, she studied with Santiago Kastner (Lisbon and Madrid), with Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini (Bologna) and with the father Gregorio estrada, from the Montserrat monastery.
In the sixties, it was the champion of the renewal of a world of the organ that entered into decline as a consequence of the post-war period, in a territory reserved almost exclusively for men. She was appointed, by competition, professor of organ at the Barcelona Municipal Superior Conservatory of Music, where she developed her pedagogy until 1991, the year in which she was awarded the emeritus title of professor.
From his appointment in 1958, he began a double and intense activity: pedagogical and concert music. Thus, as a soloist, he has performed in Spain, Europe, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and North Africa. He has performed for years, assiduously, with the National Orchestra of Spain and the City of Barcelona and National Orchestra of Catalonia, among others. With 64 years, Torrent was the interpreter who inaugurated on January 3, 1991 the organ of the Symphonic Hall of the National Auditorium, built by Gerhard Grenzing.
Fully dedicated to the repertoire of the old spanish music, regularly teaches this subject in international university courses, as well as in numerous master classes. Named an honorary doctorate by the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2008, throughout her long career, this pioneer of the organist trade has contributed to recovering organs destroyed during the war, and has worked on the recovery of numerous unpublished scores by Iberian authors . In its long career, it has received numerous awards, including the Creu de Sant Jordi. It is worth highlighting her immense legacy as the teacher of a whole generation of interpreters.
The composer and pianist Gabriel Erkoreka (Bilbao, 1969) studies at the Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga Superior Conservatory of Music and with Carmelo Bernaola, obtaining awards of honor in Composition and Piano. In 1995 he entered the Royal Academy of Music in London where he did postgraduate studies in Composition with Michael Finnissy and obtained the Diploma of Excellence and a Master with distinction from the University of London.
As a composer, Erkoreka has created works for piano, singing, orchestra and different instrumental ensembles and electroacoustic music. His music is the reflection of different motivations: nature or the need to preserve it; traditional and folk music of diverse origins, which he uses as a pretext for experimentation; and the exploration of the mind and its behavior, which he applies to formal aspects of his works. With a marked concern for social issues, he has extensively cultivated solo and ensemble works, as a way of confronting the individual and the collective.
Composer resident of the JONDE during the 2001-2002 season, in his career it is worth highlighting numerous dates, among them, in 2013, the premieres of ‘Duduk III’ in London and Tientos y Battles, for saxophone, piano and percussion quartet in Madrid , a commission from National Center for Musical Diffusion (CNDM). That same year he presented at the Zaragoza Contemporary Spanish Music Conference ‘Ametsak’, performed by the Plural Ensemble and, a year later, he premiered his work ‘Ilargi’ in the Donostiarra Musical Fortnight at the Kursaal in San Sebastián.
In 2016 the premiere was held at the National Auditorium ‘Zuhaitz (Tree)’, directed by Juanjo Mena, commissioned by the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain and, in 2017, within the BBVA Foundation cycle, premieres ‘Messa di voce y Ballade nº 1’ Pierre Boulez in memoriam ” at the Tribute to Pierre Bolulez, organized by the Juan March Foundation. That same year, his symphonic work ‘Tramuntana’ saw the light, within the 12th International Concurs of Direcció de l’Orquestra de Cadaqués, at the Auditori de Barcelona.
In the 2017-2018 season, the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain dedicate the White Letter to the Bilbao composer with concerts in which his pieces ‘Fauve’ (2004), ‘Cuatro differences’ (1996), ‘Veni Creator’ ( 2005), ‘Concerto for cello and orchestra’ Ekaitza ” (2011) and ‘Three Sonnets by Michelangelo’ (2009).
In 2018, the Folium Fugit saxophone quartet premiered ‘Swirls’ within the X Current Music Cycle of Badajoz, organized by the CNDM, an entity that also commissioned the piece’ String Quartet No. 2 ‘Quadrupole’ to be premiered in 2019 by the Cuarteto Granados in the Series 20/21 cycle, at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid. A year later, he premiered his piano piece Ballade No. 2. Edgar Varése in memoriam at the Jacqueline Du Pré Auditorium in Oxford and his quintet Ametsak II at the X Musikagileak Contemporary Music Circuit, by the Ensemble Court-Circuit.
In 2020, within the framework of the XI Cycle of Soloists of the BBVA Foundation (Madrid), he premiered his piece for microtonal accordion solo ‘Basalt’ (2020), by the accordionist Iñaki Alberdi.
Gabriel Erkoreka has won several awards, including: the Reina Sofía Prize for Musical Composition in 2008, the First Prize from the SGAE 1996; the Prize for Contemporary Musical Composition of the Basque Government in 1999; the Josiah Parker Prize and other awards at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2001 he obtained the Rome Prize, as well as the Colegio de España Award for Musical Composition in Paris-INAEM. He has also participated in the International Tribune of Composers of UNESCO, and in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 1998.
Is currently Composition teacher at MUSIKENE (Higher Music Center of the Basque Country), and coordinator of the BBVA Foundation of Bilbao Contemporary Music Concert Series.
The jury, chaired by the general director of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM), Amaya de Miguel, and the deputy director general of Music and Dance, Antonio Garde, acting as vice-president, has been composed of the following members: Josep Oriol Aguilà, director of the Peralada Festival and president of Ópera XXI; Ana Mateo, manager of the Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra and president of the Spanish Association of Symphony Orchestras – AEOS; Mercedes Menchero, director of the RNE Music and Thought program; Pilar Rius, at the proposal of the Association of Women in Music; Félix Palomero, technical director of the OCNE; the composer Jesús Torres; Raquel García Tomás, 2020 National Music Award in the Composition modality; and Indalecio Bonet on behalf of Spanish Brass, 2020 National Music Award in the Interpretation modality.