Being a musician is a way of life, said Carlos Checa, artistic and music director of the Jove Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona

Photo: @liz_isles

The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Barcelona (JOSB) was created in 2015 under the direction of conductor Carlos Checa. It first performance on 25 October at el Foyer del Gran Teatre del Liceu, launching a new pedagogical system for symphonic music in Barcelona. Since its inaugural 2015/2016 season, JOSB has been firmly committed to its mission, offering a minimum of six symphonic programmes per season.

Complementing the education of young musicians, JOSB serves not only as a platform for musical practice, but also as a didactic and cultural institution that promotes development in an environment of high artistic excellence, where knowledge, desire, effort and talent are shared.

We spoke to Carlos about the orchestra, his vision of music and the particularities of managing an orchestra made up of young musicians.

Interview: Irina Rybalchenko

Photo: @liz_isles

Please tell us about your orchestra. What are its main aims and objectives?

JOSB is a reliable, efficient and outstanding platform for talent development and an excellent educational motivation within a high artistic level. Because the orchestra is part of a large musical community and is located in this amazing city, we are very visible, and this helps to instill in young people that culture is a fundamental pillar of society.

Is it easy for you to communicate with young musicians? It requires a special attitude, a certain mood, doesn’t it?

Well, for all their diversity, young people are always sincere and determined. If a young person wants to do something, he or she really believes in it. Creating music together with a unique tool, which is a symphonic orchestra, represents an irreversible sign of greatness of a person who is able to transmit the most intimate emotions to listeners. This idea, realised thanks to the young musicians of the orchestra, is a manifestation of culture with a capital letter, where society can look forward to the present and the future.

Let’s talk about the musicians. How many are currently in the orchestra?

We have a staff of almost 70 musicians, and, over the last few seasons, we have grown significantly in terms of creativity, receiving international invitations to concert tours. Last October, we developed the season at the Palau de la Música Catalana and made our debut in London. So the Ninth Season was a turning point that made us much more visible.

Are there any musicians from outside Barcelona (e.g. Andorra) in the orchestra?

The orchestra is open to all nationalities. At the moment, we don’t have any Andorran musicians.

How do you motivate your students?

Through exciting pieces of music, challenging them with masterpieces of symphonic literature that demand a lot but, at the same time, allow them to enjoy making music “in the family;” that is, with a community where you feel like the protagonist and where everyone listens to you.

What advice would you give to budding musicians?

I would tell them that talent is developed through insistence, humility and seizing opportunities. To dedicate oneself to music is to have a calling to serve, and that means wanting and knowing how to share the works of brilliant composers to make our world a little better, even if only for a few moments. A concert should be a transformative experience for both musician and listener. The level of preparation should be maximised. Being a musician is a way of life.

The orchestra has a very interesting life, a lot of touring… Can you tell us a bit about the orchestra’s repertoire?

Our repertoire is a set of the most relevant symphonic pieces that serve as a pedagogical reference point. Every season, we arrange premieres of young soloists.

This month, in addition to the tour concerts, we worked through an agreement with the Franz Schubert Philharmonic Orchestra, where 14 musicians from the JOSB practised with this professional orchestra. We will also be participating for a few weeks in Bach in the Subway, an international project that brings Bach’s music to public spaces, such as the city market or underground stations. In March, we are travelling to perform in Zaragoza. This season, we still have programmes for 5 May and 16 June, and, in the autumn, we will be going on an international tour, which we will announce very soon.

We look forward to seeing you in Andorra! Are you planning to perform a concert here?

I would love to come again; I have very good memories! I’m sure that in the future, circumstances will allow us to do that.

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