Escolania de Montserrat
is one of the oldest music schools in Europe. By the 13th
century, a small group of boys were already serving in the Benedictine abbey and Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat through the singing and playing of different musical instruments. Throughout the centuries, many remarkable composers and performers were spawned from the so-called Montserrat Music School.
Under the direction and teaching (1953-1997) of Fr. Ireneu Segarra, the Escolania became internationally recognized on a greater scale, recording many CDs and started to participate in festivals as well as touring many countries.
Over the last few years, the Escolania has recorded the CDs O Vos Omnes
, El Nostre Nadal, P.Miquel López
and a double CD of Responsoris de Setmana Santa
by Narcís Casanoves.
The choir has been conducted by Mstislav Rostropovitx, Sir Neville Marriner, Salvador Mas, Michael Boder, Harry Bicket, Kirill Petrenko and Jordi Savall. Over these years the choir has done tours of Russia, Holland, Puerto Rico, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Poland, as well as many concerts in Catalonia.
Throughout this time, it has collaborated with a variety of orchestras, such as Orquestra de Cadaqués
, Musica Ducis Brabantiae
from Holland, the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya
, Le Concert des Nations
and Capella Reial de Catalunya
, Orquestra de l’Acadèmia del Gran Teatre del Liceu
, and Orquestra Nacional de Cambra d’Andorra
The Escolania performed in Gran Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona, in the opera Pikovaia Dama
by Piotr Txaikovski (season 2002-2003, and 2009-2010), and in the opera A
Midsummer Night’s Dream
by Benjamin Britten (season 2004-2005), which received the Midem
prize of 2006.
Nowadays, the Escolania is made up of more than 50 boys, ranging from 9 to 14 years old, coming from all across Catalonia. While they are studying at Montserrat, they cover the last years of Primary School and the first years of Secondary School, and also Music Studies. Each chorister plays two instruments, the piano and another instrument of their choice. All the students receive music lessons in class, play in the orchestra and of course sing in the choir, for which the Escolania specializes in.
Most of the choristers, when they leave Montserrat, follow on with their musical studies, especially over the last decades, where some have developed into remarkable singers, instrumentalists and conductors.
Today, the aim of the Escolania as in the past, is the daily participation in the prayer of the sanctuary, singing in front of a very large audience of pilgrims who come from all over the world.
It is one of the objectives of the Escolania to spread sacred music, both that of the music of composers of Montserrat School and internationally renowned composers.
Through their singing, the choristers (called escolans
in Catalan) are messengers of peace and beauty. Using the universal language of music, they cross all kinds of boundaries and speak directly to the hearts of the people who listen to them sing.