The composer of inspirations
When Josep Ollé Sabaté read about the concept of «escriviure» (something like «to write») by the Menorcan writer Ponç Pons, he understood that he was also talking about himself. «Life and literature in communion: as you live, as you write. And I've realized that this also happens to me musically », he says. Life and art united: could it be otherwise? At 34 years old, Josep Ollé is already a benchmark as a composer of choral singing. And he lives as he composes, composes as he lives.
His voice is slow and he speaks calmly and with soft gestures, while the leaves of the banana trees in the park of Tortosa begin to fall silently, despite the warm atmosphere of an autumn that is made to beg. "The vocation came to me from a very young age," she expresses, with a patient gaze, behind attentive eyes that invite you to listen. «One of the reasons that pushes me to compose is to read a poem that moves me and I want to contribute my vision with music, putting it to music».
At home, in Tortosa, he grew up in a cultural and creative environment: some of his childhood memories are of seeing his mother, the sculptor Cinta Sabaté, model, or his father, the writer Manel Ollé, read and write. His sister, Cinta, is also dedicated to music. Undoubtedly the conditions were favorable for him to end up dedicating himself to an artistic facet. At the age of 7, his parents gave him a piano and with it he began to experiment with his first compositions. He began his musical studies at l'Acadèmic de Tortosa with Professor Lluís Vidal and later entered the Conservatory. He remembers how his teacher Joan Vidal encouraged his creativity and gave him a very good base of harmony. He studied piano with Rossend Aymí, and with Raül Martínez he discovered choral singing with the Tyrichae choir.
In his music, the young composer tries to find bright and positive themes
As a composer, Ollé is specialized in setting Catalan poetry to music, "partly due to militancy", and sacred texts in Latin. «And that comes to me because I feel heir to the European musical tradition. Culture has roots. I don't feel like a breaker. I am one more valve in the chain of tradition. I write calm music, with a certain depth and a spiritual part. The truth is that music calms me down and concentrates me, it has a meditative point». Ollé grew up in Mig Camí, in Tortosa, with olive trees, nature... «So I think the music I write wants to give me back that peace a little».
In his music, the young composer tries to find bright, positive, inspiring themes. «The work of a composer is very lonely but I like to make collaborations, recommend people... I have learned that from my father, to vindicate people around me. I think we should change jealousy for admiration. It is fortunate for humanity to be able to listen and learn from wise people », he values.
Sitting on the terrace of the park shows a copy of The wild olive trees of Manhattanby Ponç Pons, fully underlined. He bought it at the vaDllibres bookstore in Ciutadella de Menorca two summers ago. His father Manel had told him a lot about Pons, his friend, but he still hadn't had the chance to read it. «Pons is an erudite and wise person but in the deepest sense, with kindness, knowing how to live and making others happy. He is an ethical and aesthetic reference for me. He is very inspiring to me ». A poem by Emily Dickinson appears in this book, I will not live in vainwhich he set to music and appeared in a documentary piece about persistent Covid. She dedicated it to her mother, Cinta Sabaté.
Last year Ollé received the Josep Anselm Clavé Award for the best composition for Glorya poem by Ponç Pons that he set to music for the twentieth anniversary of the Cor Tyrichae. Now, the Leipzig Radio Choir (a city that is like a mecca for musicians) has included this theme in a CD of Christmas songs from all over the world. And more than that: the Glory de Ollé, like the accent in Catalan, gives the German album its title. This theme will also be sung by the Cor Jove of the Orfeó Català at the next Sant Esteve concert.
The projects are not over: for the tenth anniversary of the Pax Cor de Cambra in Sabadell, with the director Esteve Costa, they will give a concert with the Cor Albada of the Agrupació Cor Madrigal of works by living Catalan composers. It has also recently launched Every pulchra is and has musicalized the white flower, in commemoration of the centenary of the Popular Songbook of Catalonia. For years, it has also organized the choral closing at the Florit Almendro Festival.
«Often, one of the reasons that pushes me to compose is to read a poem that moves me»
But without a doubt one of his great projects is the one that will see the light of day next year: between December 31 and January 8 he will record an album of his choral work with a choir made up of some of the best professional singers in the country. For Ollé, there are still great subjects in choral music: contemporary composition and heritage recovery, with unpublished works by composers that must be studied and made known. "And I still hope that the Cor Nacional de Catalunya will be formed," he points out.
Ollé combines his work as a composer with teaching. He is a teacher at the Can Ponsic music school in Barcelona. “Teaching excites me. In addition, I am lucky to have very good students and I am interested in teaching them everything I know, not keeping anything to myself. It is a satisfaction to see that your students will surpass you. Making this contribution to me makes me very happy.”
The way he conceived life, and in part also music, changed almost four years ago, with the arrival of his daughter Laia. Then Oriol was born, who is 19 months old, and next March he is expecting another child. “Now the most productive time is the one I spend with my children. Lately I say no to many assignments », he says. «I recognize that I have an idealistic point. Having children is like maintaining hope in the country and in humanity.