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3 diciembre 2022

Where to listen to the best classical music of the moment: Zaragoza among the European capitals of classical music

The Berlin and London Philharmonic and conductor Zubin Metha, among others, will make the city the capital of symphonic music in the Great Concerts Season of the Auditorio de Zaragoza

The head of Institutional Relations of the Auditorio de Zaragoza, Jesús Ángel González, recalled that a legend like the conductor Zubin Metha said that the Mozart Hall had the best acoustics he knew. Something that is not far from what the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra themselves told him when they were in the city: “They commented that it sounded better than their own auditorium”; no less than the performers of one of the world temples of symphonic music.

These two anecdotes serve to highlight the quality of an auditorium that faces, from November until June, its season of major concerts, in total, 18, with a program that includes the return of the Berlin Philharmonic and Metha, this one, with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, in addition to other giants such as the London Orchestra or the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg.

“This year we have quality and spectacularity,” highlights the director of the Auditorio de Zaragoza, Miguel Angel Tapia, on a program that revives the single season format, truncated in its first attempt by the pandemic in 2020.

Music director Zubin Metha. Major concert season Zaragoza Auditorium

Thus, the city will go from having two seasons, fall and spring, to a single one. It will run from November 11, when the concert of the Orquesta Nacional de España will inaugurate the plan, until June 16, when the Orquesta Reino de Aragón and the Amici Musicae choir will close the season.

In between, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (November 25); the Bavarian Radio Symphony (November 30); the Philharmonia Orchestra, with pianist Yuja Wang (December 13), the Bamberger Symphoniker (January 26) or the London Philharmonic (March 2), among others, will join the program of the Zaragoza Auditorium Great Concerts Season.

“We want Zaragoza to have the opportunity to see these great super orchestras,” Tapia emphasizes. As he explains, “all of them” have already passed through the city at some point, except Músicaeterna (May 12), a “very special” ensemble, he stresses, which is conducted by Teodor Currentzis, “as special as his own orchestra,” he adds.

“Quality has never been lacking in the auditorium, but this year’s spectacular performance and so many concerts of such high quality, the truth is that we have never had it before, I don’t think ever,” adds the head of the music venue.

A model with advantages

The spectacular poster arrives in this new model of unique season that, according to González, “works”, among other things, because it allows “a greater flexibility for the hiring of orchestras in longer periods”, as well as to attract orchestras “of weight” in the European and world plan.

To enjoy this season, the purchase of the season ticket that includes the entire program ended on Saturday and since Monday have gone on sale the half-season tickets, from November to February and February to June, which can be purchased until October 16.

It is not the only option to attend these concerts, since the auditorium offers the possibility of designing a subscription of six recitals a la carte from October 18, when tickets will also go on sale.

Big names and local talent

The Great Concerts season program not only brings together these big names from abroad, but also adds to the menu the local talent of the orchestras Reino de Aragón and Ciudad de Zaragoza, the choir Amici Musicae and the baroque ensemble Al Ayre Español.

“For 28 years we have not neglected Aragonese musicians,” says Tapia about an auditorium that has several local resident groups such as Enigma, “a national reference” in contemporary music, or the baroque Los Músicos de Su Alteza and Al Ayre Español, “which are not only national, but international references,” he adds.

However, the director of the Zaragozano auditorium qualifies that their inclusion in the program does not only depend on their origin; they are “of quality”. “Just because they are from Aragon is not synonymous for them to be alongside these great orchestras,” he says of groups such as the Amici Musicae choir, “which performs with the best orchestras in the world and the best conductors”.

Specifically, this choir will take the stage of the Sala Mozart twice with the Orquesta Reino de Aragón, on December 19 and June 16. Al Ayre Español will be on May 25th and the Orquesta Sinfónica Ciudad de Zaragoza will arrive on March 27th. This last concert will be out of subscription, although Tapia emphasizes that they will provide “all the facilities to the subscribers” so that “if it is not free, it will be as close as possible”.

The best ‘son’ of the Berliner Philharmoniker

“Some have called it the best son of Berlin,” says Tapia about the auditorium he directs, a venue inaugurated in 1994 and the result of the work of architect José Manuel Pérez Latorre. “He made one of the best halls at international level,” he emphasizes about his work.

An idea he shares with González, who recalls that Zubin Metha “always expressed himself with words of admiration for the Mozart Hall itself” and the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic, when they first came to Zaragoza, 12 years ago, came to comment “that it sounded better than their own auditorium”, as evidenced at the beginning of this text.

In that sense, he explains that the Mozart “is practically a twin child” of the Berlin one, since it follows “exactly the same scheme” and, in that first visit, it was the members of the German orchestra themselves who asked to include the Aragonese capital in their cycle in Spain, which originally included Madrid and Barcelona.

“Zaragoza is a reference in concert halls, but it is a reference at international level, I would even say at world level. That should serve as a source of pride for the people of Zaragoza,” says the director of the auditorium.

For the moment, the reception that the new season is having among the public makes its director “satisfied”, who advances plans to make known what Zaragoza offers in other Spanish cities and, even, some French ones.

Gonzalez also addresses this issue, noting that the circuit that brings together Bilbao, San Sebastian, Pamplona and Logroño lacks a symphonic music season, as Zaragoza does, and thinks that the city can compete in that sense with a big city like Barcelona.

In short, the Auditorio de Zaragoza is showing off its chest this season with one of the most powerful programs of its history, if not the most, which will surely serve to vindicate its quality as a musical venue. A proposal that, not for that reason, is made for a few.

Because, as Tapia recalls, “what really matters is that people enjoy the music and, in this case, it is assured”. And he concludes: “Elitist, no, there will be something exquisite, which is not the same thing”.

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