Breaking: Spain loses a symphony orchestra

Breaking: Spain loses a symphony orchestra


norman lebrecht

December 01, 2019

The Orquestra de Cadaqués is to be suspended, it was made known today.

Partly run by the artists agency Ibermusica, the freelance orchestra has been the platform for one of the world’s more trustworthy conducting competitions. It’s not clear if the competition can continue without the orchestra.

Past winners include Gianandrea Noseda, Vasily Petrenko and Lorenzo Viotti.


  • egj says:

    Another past winner is Pablo Gonzalez,now director of RTVE Orchestra in Madrid.

    • fflambeau says:

      Plus, Andrew Gourlay, 2010 (now chief conductor of the Castile and León Symphony Orchestra (Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León) and Achim Fiedler (1996), Music Director of the Sinfonieorchester Villingen-Schwenningen.

  • fflambeau says:

    I have no doubt this news is correct.

    Odd then, that the orchestra’s web site has nothing to say about it.

  • Spanishconductor says:

    The Cadaques Orchestra is mostly know because organized the Cadaques conducting competition. Private orchestras are difficult entrerprises in Europe and it is normal they fail, because they cannot compete with government-funded orchestras.

    Thinking about the competition I find interesting that the manager of the orchestra manages also an artist agency and Editorial Trito (that publishes the compulsory pieces of the competition). And it is one of the most expensive competitions to attend. No doubt everyone says the Cadaques Competition is not the most transparent competition.

    • Anon says:

      Well said, Spanish conductor.

      And among orchestral players and even managers, Cadaques is well known to be a real mafia. No auditions, just friends inviting friends to play. A lot of musicians are pretty sick of Cadaques, truthfully. The worst part is that this mafia then determines the fate of the young conductors who audition. Then nearly every other orch. in Spain has to endure the results because the winner gets guest contracts with most orchs in Spain. Only a few of the conductors are really good.

      Yes, there are just too much politics and schmoozing going on in Cadaques. A lot of people thruout Spain are breathing a sigh of relief at its demise.

      • EGJ says:

        I don’t think that conductors like Noseda,V. Petrenko,Gonzalez are bad musicians.Private orchestras have less artistic freedom,that is real.The winners gets guest contracts not only with spanish orchestras,but wit BBC Philarmonic,Orchestra National de Lille,Oslo Philarmonic,Royal Liverpool Philharmonic,Antwerp Symphony,Ulster Symphony,Danish National Symphony,Residentie Orkest The Hague,Philharmonique du Luxembourg,Orchestre du Capitole Toulouse,Filarmonica del Teatro Regio Torino,Osaka Symphony,Nagoya Philharmonic,Tokyo New City Orchestra,Filarmónica de Buenos Aires/Teatro Colón,Filarmónica de Bogotá,Filarmónica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,etc.

        • Anon says:

          Petrenko, Noseda and Viotti are great! They are the Cadaques success stories! No confusion there!

          Actually, I think private orchestras have a lot more freedom. Cadaques pretty much does what it wants. They hire who they want to, program what they want to, and travel when and where they wish. Try doing that with a taxpayer funded band.

          Most of the engagements you’re spouting off have nothing to do with the Cadaques winners’ agreement. They are orchestras where Cadaques winners happened to end up conducting at some point in their careers.

          Part of winning Cadaques is a specific agreement to conduct certain orchestras in Spain the year following the win. To my knowledge, the BBC and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México or any other orchestra on your list have no such agreement with Cadaques.

          Be careful. You are on the outside looking in. Your naivete betrays you. You are conversing here with people who are dead center on the fault lines of Cadaques. We know exactly what we’re saying. Thanks for respecting that.

          • EGJ says:

            In the site of the Cadaques Competition,all these are listed as “Collaborating Orchestras- First Prize”,all these groups from Spain and from abroad.

          • Anonymous says:

            They may indeed be great, but you also must understand that by winning, their careers were catapulted forward. When people spout winners as “success stories”, they merely reinforce survivorship bias. Without the full context of who else was there, you are just reinforcing their narrative. You would be extremely naïve to think that in any competition the results are only about the art. Even if it were, it is a subjective enterprise. You place your faith in the hands of the jury, almost always tainted. While in some years the jurors were excellent, others obviously cared little for anything but their own self-reward. Follow the money.

            In fact, the winners agreement does include a promise of engagements with a number of those orchestras. So I’m afraid it is actually you who is sorely misinformed.

            The corruption of this competition is well-known, and I can vouch for the other commenters above, from unfortunate personal experience.

            Your last paragraph sounds almost like a threat. Seems like you are inadvertently proving the point.

          • Anon says:

            You’re right! I didn’t check their website before I posted my previous message. It’s why I prefaced it with “To my knowledge”. Just looked it up and Cadaques does have agreements with those orchestras.

            No it wasn’t meant as a threat, it was just bugging me that this person EGJ wrote as if he (or she) is a Cadaques authority.

            It’s a mistake a lot of foreigners (esp. British, unfortunately) make about the orchestral scene in Spain. They often seem to think that Spain must be an ignorant, back woods country and that it takes an English speaking person to come in to say how things should be done. It happens a lot and it’s really really annoying.

            The truth is that Spain is a very sophisticated nation culturally, with a highly developed orchestral scene which is producing major international talents every year. There are nearly 30 professional full time govt. orchestras and many more (like Cadaques) which are privately funded. Spain knows perfectly well how to run their orchestras.

            There is also a sizeable no. of expats working in these orchestras who have been here for years. Like the Spaniards – who are too polite to contradict people like EGJ – they just roll their eyes at these bossy know-it-alls. Spain’s orchestral scene doesn’t need to be discovered or invented or interpreted by English speaking know-it-alls. There are plenty of international professionals working in Spain’s music scene, and of course, talented and proficient Spaniards, who have it covered.

            It’s just kind of annoying when someone like EGJ tries to insert him or herself into this world, as though there is no one here who knows what they’re doing. That’s what I was riling against in my comment.

  • Bruce Tarlton says:

    I just rang the orchestra (in Catalan!) as I have a ticket to hear them on Tuesday 10 December with Noseda and according to the chap on the line the current concerts will be going ahead but that the decisión “has been taken to disband the orchestra until further notice”. He was unwilling to comment further but I did tell him how disappointed I was as they are really a great orchestra!