Simon Halsey, artistic director
Halsey occupies a unique position in classical music. He is the trusted advisor on choral singing to the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras and choruses, and also an ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background. Making singing a central part of the world-class institutions with which he is associated, he has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe.
He holds positions across the UK and Europe as Choral Director of London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chorus Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Artistic Director of Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser of Palau de la Música, Barcelona, Artistic Director of Berliner Philharmoniker Youth Choral Programme, Director of BBC Proms Youth Choir; Artistic Advisor of Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir, Conductor Laureate of Rundfunkchor Berlin and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at University of Birmingham.
Halsey’s numerous awards include three Grammys for his recordings with the Rundfunkchor Berlin. He was made Commander of the British Empire in 2015, was awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2014, and received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany.
Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King’s College, Cambridge and studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London.
Pablo Larraz, sotsdirector
Pablo Larraz began his music studies in Jaca (Osca), his native town. In Barcelona he studied Music Teaching at the UAB and piano with Carme Poch at the Municipal Conservatory, where he obtained his higher qualification in 2003. Pablo’s interest in vocal music led him to join renowned choirs such as the Orfeó Gracienc, the Coral Cantiga and Zaragoza’s Vozes de Al Ayre Español. He has also worked with the Cor de Cambra of the Palau, the Coro Barroco in Andalusia and different groups who perform historical music. Following a few years as a primary school and children’s choir teacher, he studied Choir Direction at the Catalonia Higher School of Music (ESMUC), where he worked with Josep Vila and Johan Duijck until completing the course in 2010.
Pablo has directed the Chamber Choir of the Diputació of Girona since 2008 and the Youth Choir of the Girona Conservatory since 2013. Since 2010 he has been Assistant to the Director of the Orfeó Català, as well as being the coordinator and educational leader of the vocal and musical training its singers receive. Likewise, he is a member of the technical team for the Catalonia Youth Choir Federation.
In recent years, Pablo has embarked on a career as a soloist tenor, specialising in the Baroque repertoire. In 2014 he won the Bach Scholarship and has performed over twenty of J.S. Bach’s cantatas, the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and diverse oratorios and works by Handel, Carissimi and Mozart, among others. Last year he completed his further studies in Historical Song at the ESMUC under the tutelage of Lambert Climent.
Josep Buforn, pianist
Born in Barcelona, he studied at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu. He qualified as a pianist through the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (England), as well as studying at the Conservatori Superior Municipal de Música in Barcelona with Maria Jesús Crespo. He has received master classes from Luiz de Moura Castro, Nina Drath, Nina Svetlanova and Peter Bithell.
He won first prize at the Vilafranca del Penedès Young Performers Competition and at the 1st Ricard Viñes Piano Contest in Lleida. He has recently been awarded Best Accompanist Pianist at the national Inter-centre Contest in Madrid.
He has broad experience as a repertoire, accompanist and chamber music pianist; likewise, he has worked with the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès, the Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya, the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya and the Banda Municipal de Barcelona.
At present, in his role of repertoire pianist, he is constantly receiving bookings from renowned and prestigious performers from the international operatic scene. He is accompanist pianist for the Orfeó Català and the Liceu Theatre Choir. Josep is also the official pianist for international competitions such as the Viñes Contest and appears regularly at the Peralada Festival, among others.
He was recently invited to play at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall with flautist Elisabet Franch following the recording of their first album, Gypsy Airs, which has been very well received by the critics and public alike.