Elisenda has been praised for writing with an “imaginatively colored… idiom” (The New York Times) and for possessing an “individuality [which] shows through in yearning dissonances, quirky juxtapositions of thematic material and a pervasive sensuality not unlike that of her native Barcelona” (San Antonio Express News). Fábregas’s music has been described as “complex and haunting” (Washington Post) with abundant “expressive long lines and gorgeous lyricism” (NATS Journal), and for having “an emotionally compelling aura” (New Mexican News) and a “marvelous sense of progression and development” (American Music Teacher Magazine). In occasion of winning the MTNA Shepherd Distinguished Composer Award, the American Teacher Magazine praised Fábregas for writing with a unique perspective comparing her to the “The man with a Blue Guitar” (1937) in the Wallace Stevens’s poem: “Fábregas is one gifted with a blue guitar. Her tunes are beyond us, yet ourselves. Indeed they are tunes of things exactly as they are.” Fábregas music covers a wide range of states, from “dreamlike images…and illusive rhythms and harmonies that permeate misty settings” [as in the piano solo ‘Hommage a Mozart,’] to music described as “notable in its sturdy and arresting generative themes” with “motoric, muscular, exciting fast movements” (San Antonio Express News.)
Spanish/American composer Elisenda Fábregas (b. 1955, Terrassa, Catalonia) has had a multifaceted career as a composer, pianist and lecturer. Until very recently she based in Seoul, South Korea, where she was a Visiting Professor of music and cultural studies at Kyung-Hee University Humanitas College (Global Campus) (2013-2021). She also taught graduate composition at Ewha’s Women University and was a piano professor at Chugye University for the Arts (2010-2013). Her educational background is also multifaceted. She was a Post-Doctoral Fulbright scholar and holds doctorates from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in music composition (DMA, 2011), and from Columbia University Teachers College in education (Ed.D. 1992); she also received a Master and Bachelor in piano performance from The Juilliard School (1982-83). Before coming to the US, she also completed the highest studies as a pianist in Barcelona. During her early career, Elisenda performed as a pianist throughout Europe and the US, including a Carnegie Recital Hall debut in New York City in 1983. These experiences and training as a performer ultimately propelled her towards musical composition. She has written compositions for symphonic orchestra, wind ensemble, large mixed ensemble, triple concerto (piano, vln, vlc), cello concerto, choir with string quartet, a cappella choir, percussion ensemble, chamber music (quartets, trios and duos, some incl. guitar), song cycles with piano (incl. soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone); solo instrumental (violin, cello, flute, harp), and solo piano works. Elisenda’s compositions have been the subject of doctoral thesis in American and South Korean universities. In 2000, Elisenda received the Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year Award from the Music Teachers National Association in Washington D.C. for her piano work Portraits I. Recordings of Elisenda’s compositions have been released on Naxos, Bridge Records, Haenssler (Profil Edition), Albany Records, Centaur Records, Mundo Arts, Odradek and NCA Classical Adventure Records; and her music is published by Hofmeister MusikVerlag (Leipzig, Germany), Alphonse Leduc & Cie. (Paris.), and Hidden Oaks Music Co.
Elisenda Fábregas‘ music has been widely performed throughout the world, including The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.; Merkin Concert Hall and Joyce Theater in New York City; the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society; Seoul Arts Center (Concert Hall, IBK Art Hall and Recital Hall), Seoul; La Salle Cortot, Paris; the Tapiola Sinfonietta Concert Series in Finland; Sala Pau Casals at L’Auditori, Barcelona, Spain; International Percussion Festival of Seoul (South Korea); Kumho Art Hall (Seoul); the International Music Festival of Sitges (“Concerts de Mitjanit”), Spain; MusikfestStuttgart (Germany); Musical Festival of the Hamptons (NY); Bargemusic (Brooklyn, NY); Embassy Series (Washington D.C.); Lansing Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series, Michigan; Cactus Pear Music Festival (Texas); KWCMS Chamber Music Series in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada; Land’s End Chamber Music Society of Calgary, Canada; National Flute Convention, NYC; Esplanade Concerts (Singapore); SSA Chamber Series at SOTA (Singapore); the Bodensee International Music Festival and Sanssouci Musikfestpiele in Potsdam, Germany; United Nations Conference in Beijing, China; Ibero American Institute in Berlin; Hohenloher Kultursommer (Germany); and WDR Cologne Radio (“Nachtmusik” live); Barcelona Festival of Song (Caixa Forum, Barcelona); MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya); Plaça del Rei (Gothic Quarter in Barcelona); Festival Albeniz Camprodon (Spain); Casa Mila Concert Series, Barcelona; Museu Pau Casals, el Vendrell (Tarragona); Random Access Music (RAM) Concert Series (New York City).
Since January 2022, Elisenda is based in Catalunya (Spain) enjoying her status as a full-time composer. This spring, she completed a new work for cobla (traditional, Catalan brass winds ensemble), titled Castell de Miravet, commissioned for the Memorial Joaquin Serra 2022 by the Agrupació Cultural Folklòrica Barcelona in collaboration with Músics per la Cobla. This piece was recorded and premiered in November 2022.
Elisenda also recently completed a commission from El Cor Canta, titled ‘Parlen les dones’ for mezzo, choir and orchestra based on Catalan text by Montserrat Abelló, to be premiered on March 5, 2023 at L’Auditori in Barcelona and on March 11 at the Auditori Enric Granados, in Lerida (Catalunya). Aires Catalans for string chamber orchestra, a commission from Orquestra de Cambra Terrassa 48, was recently completed and it will be premiered at the Auditorio Municipal de Terrassa on April 23, 2023. This work is based on traditional Catalan songs. An older work for orchestra, Accents Catalans, was premiered in Catalunya by the San Cugat Symphony under the direction of Salvador Brotons in the spring of 2022. Before that, Accents Catalans was premiered in Australia by the West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra (October 2021), and in the USA by the Florida Orchestra in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA (February 24, 2022). Accents Catalans was commissioned and premiered in 2016 by the Bucheon Philharmonic conducted by Youngmin Park at the Seoul Arts Center in South Korea,
Elisenda has been collaborating with several performers, including 23 year-old award-winning Canadian pianist Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, for whom she recently wrote and dedicated Somnis radiants (Radiant dreams), to be premiered at the Ruhr Klavier-Festival on June 8, 2023; and at the Auditorio Nacional de Musica de Madrid on June 14, 2023. Jaeden is also championing her piano work Portraits in several recitals in Spain (Jerez de la Frontera and Barcelona). And a Piano Quintet is in the works – more news on this later.
Elisenda has also been working with Catalan cellist Roger Morelló Ros for the last 3 years, resulting in works like Uphill: from Clara to Robert for cello & piano (2021), premiered and performed by the Duo of Roger Morello Ros and Anna Khomichko in dozens of cities during the 2022-2023 season in Germany, Spain, Holland and other European cities. The work Danses de la terra (2020) was also written for Roger and premiered at Palau Güell in Barcelona (October 28, 2021); two short pieces from Colores Andaluces (Duende and Zapateado) were also arranged for Roger. He recently recorded Danses de la terra for solo cello at the SWR German radio (Südwestrundfunk), included in a CD titled La veu de Casals, with funding from Deutscher Musikrat Foundation. The CD will be released in April 2023 on LBS Classical with the collaboration of the Pau Casals Foundation.
Several CD recordings featuring Elisenda’s music were released in 2022. Sonata for flute and piano (1995) was released on the Odradek label in June, 2022, by Roberto Alvarez, flute, and Kseniia Vokhmianina, piano (both based in Singapore), and was promoted during the duo’s tour in Europe (The Whirlwind Tour). Roberto has championed this sonata in prior concerts at the 2014 Esplanade Concerts in Singapore, and at the 2013 Australian Flute Festival. This work was originally premiered by flutist Barbara Siesel and the composer at the piano, at the United Nations Conference for Women’s Rights in Beijing in 1995.
Goyescas for flute and guitar (2008) was recorded in 2021 by Andrea Gonzalez Caballero, guitar, and Amalia Tortajada, flute. Under the name IDENTIDADE, Andrea and Amalia worked with women composers as well as women designer and producer and released their album on their private label on all online platforms during the spring of 2022. Goyescas was originally commissioned and premiered by award-winning flutist Marina Piccinini at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Series as a work for flute & guitar. Later, an arrangement of Goyescas for flute, viola and piano, was performed by Roberto Alvarez, flute, and other members of the Singapore Philharmonic at their Chamber Music Series in 2013; numerous other performances took place in Spain by Ensemble Gaudi.
Goyescas for flute and guitar (2008) was recorded in 2021 by Andrea Gonzalez Caballero, guitar, and Amalia Tortajada, flute. Under the name IDENTIDADE, Andrea and Amalia worked with women composers as well as women designer and producer are releasing their album on their private label. It was released on all online platforms this spring. Goyescas was originally commissioned and premiered by award-winning flutist Marina Piccinini at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Series as a work for flute & guitar. Later, an arrangement of Goyescas for flute, viola and piano, was performed by Roberto Alvarez, flute, and other members of the Singapore Philharmonic at their Chamber Music Series in 2013; numerous other performances took place in Spain by Ensemble Gaudi.
In January of 2021, Imitació del foc (Imitation of fire) for tenor & piano was released on the Bridge Records Album #9548 titled Visca L’Amor: Catalan Art Songs of the XX and XXI Centuries, recorded by tenor Isai Jess Muñoz and pianist Oksana Glouchko along with top Catalan composers, including Frederic Mompou, a dear mentor of Elisenda. Imitacio del foc, based on Catalan lyrics by Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel, was commissioned in 2019 by I.J. Muñoz with a grant from the University of Delaware.
Other recent commissions in the last 3 years included the IonSound Project Ensemble which resulted in Masks for clarinet, cello & piano, premiered in New York City by Random Access Music (RAM) Concert Series with clarinetist Tom Piercy (February 2020), as well as performances in other American cities. Masks for clarinet, cello & piano was premiered in Catalonia in April 2021, at the ‘Primavera Musical a Vistabella’ concert series (Musical Spring in Vistabella) with additional performances in Creixell, both cities in Tarragona (Spain). Both concerts performed by Roger Morelló Ros, cello; Oriol Estivill, clarinet; and Dani Ruiz, piano.
While living in Seoul, Elisenda wrote several orchestral works and compositions for large mixed ensembles. Accents Catalans was commissioned in 2016 by the Bucheon Philharmonic and premiered by maestro Youngmin Park at the Seoul Arts Center ‘Concert Hall’ as part of the Spring Orchestra Festival on April 10 of 2016; an additional performance took place at Bucheon’s Citizen Hall in Bucheon, South Korea, on September 30, 2016. In 2015, a Triple Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra was commissioned and premiered by Trio Nova Mundi with the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra and maestro Juan Ramirez; an additional performance by the Grove City College Orchestra took place in April of 2016. The previous year, the Barcelona Symphonic Band commissioned Elisenda’s Symphony No. 1 for Symphonic Band and was premiered in February 2014 at ‘L’Auditori’ Sala Pau Casals in Barcelona, under the direction of maestro Youngmin Park. Symphony No.1 was later recorded by the Barcelona Symphonic Band with maestro Salvador Brotons and released in the album Catalan Wind Music, Vol. 2, Naxos: 8573915. Elisenda previously collaborated with Youngmin Park in 2011 with the commission and premiere of Terra Mater for Symphony Orchestra by the Wonju Philharmonic.
Elisenda started her compositional activities writing for chamber ensemble, instrumental solos (incl. piano), and song cycles. One of her most popular piano works is Mirage for piano, commissioned by the 1997 San Antonio International Competition and a compulsory piece for all twelve semifinalists. After the Texas premiere, the New York City premiere was performed by award-winning pianist Mijung Im at Merkin Concert Hall in 1998. Mirage has since received performances by many pianists in various countries. Pianist Becky Billock performed Mirage multiple times on her Spring 2019 Pacific Northwest tour, including cities in the state of Oregon, Washington, California and Philadelphia. She later recorded Mirage on the album Mother Earth. In South Korea, Mirage received multiple performances by pianist Mijung Im, during her 2016 South Korean tour, culminating in a concert at the IBK Hall of the Seoul Arts Center on March 23, 2016. Jinha Park has also performed Mirage multiple times in South Korea, the USA, Spain, Italy and Costa Rica. Other pianists have performed this work in Japan, Hong Kong, and various European and American cities. Another early but substantial piano work gaining attention, Portraits I, was performed this April at the second round of the Maria Canals International Piano Competition by the First prizewinner of the competition, Canadian Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, who plans to give the formal Catalan premiere of Portraits at the Palau de la Music Catalana in 2023. Portraits earned the Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year Award from the Music Techers National Association, and in 2001 received its premiere in Washington D.C. by American pianist Roger Wright.
One of her most popular chamber works is Voces de mi tierra for flute, cello and piano, written in 2003 for the Meininger-Trio. This work has been performed in all five continents (including South Africa, Australia, South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Argentina, and many cities in the USA and Europe, including Spain). The Meininger-Trio recorded Voces de mi tierra for the Haenssler Profil edition and championed it throughout Germany. Many other chamber ensembles have performed this work, including Trio Nova Mundi who premiered Voces de mi tierra in the African continent with seven performances in Johannesburg, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and another twelve performances in their 2017 Spring USA tour in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Oregon and Washington State. A special arrangement was made (violin, vlc and piano) for Trio Nova Mundi. Voces de mi tierra received in premiere in Australia at the 2013 “Encuentro Españoles” of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Elisenda has worked with many vocalists and written song cycles with lyrics in English, Spanish, Catalan and Occitan. Three of her song cycles are the subject of Doctoral thesis (Moments of change for soprano & piano; Five musings on the past (based on her own poetry) for soprano & piano, and Five Poems of Garcia Lorca (soprano and chamber ensemble). Her piano compositions have also been the subject of studies: a Master’s Thesis in South Korea: An Analytical Study on Elisenda Fábregas’s Homenatge a Mompou by Jessica Han, Master thesis, Sejong University, August 2021. (written in the Korean language); The Pedagogical Piano Works of Elisenda Fabregas: Teaching Repertoire of Different Styles and Contextualizing her Work in Mainstream Repertoire: Supplementary Files by Rachel Baron, MA Thesis; Kansas State University, 2018; and The Piano Music of Elisenda Fábregas: A Performance Analysis by Jinha Park, DMA thesis. University of South Carolina (2012).
Elisenda Fábregas was born in 1955 in Terrassa, Barcelona, and received extensive training as a pianist at the Barcelona Conservatory. In 1978, she came to the United States as a Post-Doctoral Fulbright scholar and earned a masters degree from The Juilliard School and a doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College. She began composing at The Juilliard School in 1985, working with several dance companies and choreographers in New York City, including Jerome Robbins, Hector Zaraspe, Janet Soares and Anna Sokolow. She started composing in 1986, when The Maria Benitez Spanish Dance Company commissioned her to write Reflexiones for solo piano, which was premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., the Joyce Theater in New York, followed by numerous performances throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.
In her early career as a pianist, she performed in Spain, England, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and the United States, appearing in Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Carnegie Recital Hall, and The Joyce Theater in New York City, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., The United Nations Conference in Beijing, The Place Theater in London, Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, and the Manuel de Falla International Festival in Granada, Spain.
In her New York debut in Carnegie Recital Hall she was praised by Tim Page of The New York Times as having “… fluid technique and a poet’s command of musical shading.” She was featured on NPR’ s recording “Live Concert at the Alamo,” and performed live on WQXR-FM “New York Spotlight,” WNYC-FM “Around New York,” and the Voice of America.
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- Somnis radiants (2023) for piano
- Jaeden Izik-Dzurko to premiere ‘Radiant dreams’ at Ruhr Klavier-Festival, Essen, June 8, 2023.
- Aires Catalans (2023) premiere by ‘Orchestra de Cambra Terrassa 48’ on April 23, 2023, Auditori Terrassa
- Five songs (1986), March 4, 17:30, at Festival Musika-Música de Bilbao, Palacio Euskaldunafestival – N. Intxausti sopr. & Aurelio Virabay, pno.
- ‘Parlen les dones’ for mezzo, SATB Choir and Orchestra – El Cor Canta, March 5, 12:00, 2023 – L’ Auditori de Barcelona; and March 11, at the Auditori Enric Granados, Lerida.