A dream comes true!
Since many years, it was my dream to visit the village of Prades, the place of Pablo Casals! He was one of the greatest cellists and humanists of the time and I have a special connection to him because I studied with Bernard Greenhouse, his most famous student who spent many time in Prades himself with his master. Born in Catalonia in El Vendrell in the South of Barcelona, Casals moved to Prades in 1937 during the civil war in Spain. He remained in this exile for many years and refused to play concerts in countries that were against democraty and denounced all collaboration with Nazi Germany. He created his own music world in this little village in the French Pyrenees: Prades.
On the steps of Casals, great musician and humanist
And by a great coincidence, this village made us come on our tour through Europe even though we didn't plan it! We had been invited for a concert in a medieval chapel
in the neighbour village Catllar. And for four days I would discover the places, the flair of this little town, the places Casals played, taught and lived and even played myself on the spots he played... We visited his house, walked in the streets where he used to take walks with his obligatory umbrella, bought cheese on the village market and went to Molitg, the thermal baths where he lived in the summer time in a small house that is now covered with grass and inhabited by birds...
Song of the birds
The "Cant des Ocells", means Song of the Birds in Catalan is the piece, Casals wrote on a Catalan melody and poeme. It became his "hymn of piece" that he played in many occasions to set a mark for peace and humanity. Also, he played this piece always at the end of his concerts.
Near Prades is the beautiful monastery St. Michel, surrounded by mountains and nature. Casals recorded the Song of the Birds here which became a very famous recording. In this monastery, there are not more than two monks left, they are both elderly and very friendly men managing the monastery life and the daily mess all by their own. Jane, the organisator of our concerts, a wonderful heartful woman, knew them well and organized a recording session for us in the church to record the Song of the Birds. As a thank you, we played for the monks and the villagers some live music during their mess. It was quite an experience to play on Casals place and to imagine that his sound had filled this cathedral with the same music 70 years ago. The Song of the Birds, connecting different centuries, countries, still expressing same ideals and feelings...
Every year, the festival Pablo Casals is taking place in Prades that he had created himself about 70 years ago. Great musicians all over the world come together in the summer time to play and celebrate in his honor.