ARIANNA SAVALL FIGUERAS
Vocals and harp
"It is as if the beauty of Arianna's voice were truly the voice of a fairy."
(El 9 Nou, MMVV 2010, M. Rius)
Arianna Savall, who was born in Basle (Switzerland) in 1972 into a family of Catalan musicians, began her piano studies with Susanne Hockenios, and classical-harp studies with Magdalena Barrera. In 1991, she also began singing lessons with Maria Dolors Aldea at the music school in Terrassa, where she completed her singing and harp studies.
She began studying the performance of music from earlier periods with Rolf Lislevand at the Toulouse Conservatory (France) in 1992, and joined a number of other courses taught by Andrew Lawrence-King, Hopkinson Smith, and her parents Montserrat Figueras and Jordi Savall.
Between 1996 and 2001, she went back to Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland for postgraduate studies in singing with Kurt Widmer, while also specializing in historical-harp playing with Heidrun Rosenzweig. She sang in a baroque opera for the first time in the Theater Basel in 2000: the "Opera Seria" (Vienna 1769) by Florian Leopold Gassman, with Carlos Harmuch conducting.
2002 saw her debut in the Barcelona opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, in a production of Claudio Monteverdi's Orfeo directed by her father Jordi Savall, in which she took the role of Eurydice. That performance of the opera was recorded on DVD for the BBC and Opus Arte, and the critics praised the production as one of the most beautiful and magical versions of Orfeo. She performed in this opera at highly prestigious festivals and opera houses, including Edinburgh, Bordeaux, Bremen, Vienna, Milan, Madrid and Brussels.
She played the role of Casilda in the opera "Arianna", a pasticcio by Handel, in Basel's Teatre Scala, as well as performing as a singer and harpist in the opera "Sueños y Folías" in the Teatro Liceo in Salamanca, and singing in "Celos aún del ayre matan", an opera by Juan Hidalgo, in the Auditori in Barcelona and the Konzerthaus in Vienna. She has also taken part as a soloist in The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell with the Main Barockorchester Frankfurt, and has sung the role of Clorinda in Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda by C. Monteverdi with Les Concerts des Nations
Between 1997 and 2008, she performed and recorded on several occasions with the ensemble Hespèrion XXI and made her first recording, on the Alia Vox label: she played the harp to accompany her mother in "Tonos Humanos" by José Marín, which was awarded a "Diapason d'Or".
Her most recent recorded performances can be heard on "Don Quixote", which was unanimously voted "Record of the Year" (Midem Classical Awards 2006), "La Folia" and "Ninna Nanna", "Diaspora Sefardí" (earning a Grammy nomination in 2001), which have won numerous awards, the album recorded with her family "Du temps et de l'instant", a finalist in the SGAE music awards 2005, and "Lux Feminae", the latest release from Montserrat Figueras.
At the same time, she has performed and recorded with other groups such as Mala Punica in "Helas Avril " (ERATO), with the Ricercar Consort in "Sopra la Rosa" (MIRARE), with Rolf Lislevand in "Alfabeto" (NAÏVE), with Pedro Estevan in "El aroma del tiempo" (GLOSSA), with Il Desiderio in "Jouissance vous donneray" and "Vergine Bella" (AELUS), and "Klang der Staufer" with Capella Antiqua Bambergensis (CAB Records, 2010). She sings as a soloist in the Monteverdi's Vespers, conducted by Pascal Crittin, with the Ensemble Vocal de St. Maurice, and with La Fenice, conducted by Jean Tubery, with whom she also performs in the Un Camino de Santiago" programme. In 2004, she also performed with the Capella Reial de Catalunya, singing in the concert dedicated to M.A. Charpentier at Versailles, which was recorded by MEZZO, as well as appearing in "Membra Jesu" by Buxtehude in Graz (Austria) and in The Mass in B Minor by J.S. Bach.
Arianna Savall Figueras has performed throughout Europe, Scandinavia, the United States, South America, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Russia, Canada and Israel.
Her passion for early music and for improvisation has led her to the other extreme: contemporary music, in which she has begun working closely with the Swiss composer Conrad Steinmann on reconstructed ancient Greek music and the poems of Sappho. The outcome of that work is a disc that was warmly welcomed by the critics: "Melpomen" and "Sappho and her time" (HARMONIA MUNDI).
Rolf Lislevand's recording "Nuove musiche" (ECM) is a highly experimental venture on which Arianna Savall Figueras features as a singer and harpist.
In June 2006 she performed as a singer in the work for soprano and nine modern instruments by Estonian composer Helena Tulve (1972) "Lijnen" in Tallin, which was also later recorded by ECM with the group Nyyd Ensemble, conducted by Olari Elts, with whom she also performed at the Rennes Opera, singing Quatre Instants by K. Saariaho. She has undertaken several projects with Helena Tulve which premiered at the Monaco Opera: "Equinoxe de l'Ame" and "Arboles lloran por lluvia" with Vox Clamantis with Jaan-Eik Tulve conducting. In 2008 she performed in Carmina Burana by C. Orff, conducted by Manel Valdivieso, and sang L'abbé Agathon by Arvo Part with the Amsterdam Cello Octet. In 2010, she performed at several festivals dedicated to the music of Arvo Pärt, including the Nargen Festival (Estonia), which celebrated the 75th birthday of the Estonian composer, beginning an intense project with him and his wife, Nora. She also sang with the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble, conducted by Tonu Kaljuste.
All her explorations as a singer and harpist were brought together in her first solo album, "Bella Terra" (Alia Vox, 2003), in which she performs her own compositions. She has also performed at many festivals with her group, including the Festival de Música Viva of Vic, a tour with Joventuts Musicals de Catalunya, the Sfinks world music festival (Belgium, 2004) and Stimmenfestspiele (Switzerland, 2005), as well as the International Brosella Folk & Jazz Festival.
Singing while accompanying oneself on the harp is an age-old tradition that Arianna Savall Figueras began to follow with a project to bring it back through ancient music and new musical creations on historical harps. The video clip "L'Amor", with texts by Miquel Martí i Pol, was awarded the "Coup de Coeur" prize by Mezzo TV in 2004.
In the year 2006-2007, she took a postgraduate course with Andrew Lawrence-King at the ESMUC (Barcelona's Higher School of Music) on the Spanish baroque harp.
With her partner, Petter Udland Johansen, in 2009 she set up the Hirundo Maris ensemble, specialising in ancient music from the Mediaeval to the Baroque periods, besides writing their own compositions. Their creative core comes from Mediterranean and Nordic music, the fruit of their extensive work together, and like a migratory bird they rediscover the paths of the sea and music that have united Scandinavia with the Iberian peninsula since time immemorial.
Late 2009 saw the release of her second album, also her own work, " Peiwoh" (Alia Vox),
which pays tribute to the harp through the eastern legend of the same name.
With this latest project, she begins an intense tour of Europe, with guest appearances at the Festival Música Viva of Vic, Ribermúsica (Barcelona), MDR Musiksommer, All'Improviso (Poland), Philippe Maillard Productions (Paris), and Espazos Sonoros (Santiago de Compostela). The critics refer to her as "The fairy of the harp".
With Peiwoh, she has reached the finals of the Third Miquel Martí i Pol Awards, 2011, with the song "Si tornes" ("If you come back") from the album Peiwoh (EDR Discos). She has also been awarded the "World Music from Catalonia 2011" distinction by the Government of Catalonia.
With Hirundo Maris, she performs at numerous harp festivals, including the Festival de Dinan (Brittany), Seduced by Harps (Belgium) and the Ostrava Ada Balová Festival (Czech Republic). Her ensemble has also opened some of these festivals, such as the International Harp Festival of Sentmenat (Catalonia) where they are regular guests, and Arp Sanati Dergi in Istanbul (Turkey).
She performs with several other harpists, including Myrdhin and Zil (Brittany), Robin Huw Bowen (Wales) and Sirin Pancaroglu (Turkey).
She has given several courses and makes regular trips to Austria (Handenberg) and France for this purpose, besides teaching at El Musical, the school of music at Bellaterra.
Hirundo Maris has just finished recording a new project with ECM, set to be released shortly.