The young director will conduct the festive hymn on the afternoon of Thursday, August 20, after the Entrada de Bandas.
Jaume Blai Santonja Espinós was born in Bocairent in 1986 and began his studies in Ontinyent, at the Josep Melcior Gomis professional conservatory and, more specifically, in percussion. Later, he continued his higher degree in music in Barcelona, at the ESMuC and completed it with a master’s degree in percussion at the Royal Conservatory of Amsterdam. He also has a master’s degree in conducting from the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp.
In 2011 and for 8 years, he was principal percussionist of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, in Belgium. During this time he also collaborated with orchestras such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Rotterdam Philharmonic or the Orquesta Nacional de España, among others, working under great conductors such as Mariss Jansons, Daniele Gatti, Yannick Nezet-Sieguen, Valery Gergiev, Pierre Boulez, Andris Nelsons or Zubin Mehta. He was also a founding member of the Natàlia Ensemble chamber group and the duo Akt-tek.
Jaume combined his activity as a percussionist with that of band and orchestra conductor, but the latter stopped to devote himself full time to orchestra conducting in 2018, when he became assistant conductor of the City of Birmingham Orchestra (CBSO) in the United Kingdom.
Jaume Santonja has been at the head of orchestras such as the City of Birmingham Orchestra (CBSO) itself, the BBC-Wales Orchestra, the RTVE Orchestra, the Verdi Symphony Orchestra of Milan, the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta de Extremadura, the Orquesta de Córdoba, The World Orchestra, the ADDA-simfònica de Alicante and the Joven Orquesta Nacional de España (JONDE), among others. Future engagements will lead him to conduct seasonal concerts with orchestras such as the Teatro Regio di Parma Orchestra, the Leeds Symphony Orchestra or the Spanish National Orchestra.
Jaume has achieved important results in international conducting competitions, such as being the fourth-finalist in the ‘XII Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition’; one of those selected for the final phases of the ‘Donatella Flick Conducting Competition’ in London and, in June 2020, he will be one of the four participants in the prestigious masterclass organised by the Concergebouw orchestra of Amsterdam under the instructions of Ivan Fischer.
According to this conductor, the world of conducting cannot be separated from the world of composition, which is why he is also active as an orchestrator and arranger, in addition to having a considerable number of his own creations, especially for chamber music, one of his other passions.
Vicent Pla Vaello, president of the Society of Festeros. “This is a young director of the land, with roots in Ontinyent, and with a strong international character, which will lead the most international Moorish march that exists and was created for a party that already deserves international recognition.”
Here is a list of his original works, which does not include orchestrations of children’s choral songs and arrangements for percussion groups, orchestra sembles, etc.
- 2002 (at age sixteen)
Als Xacals (Christian March)
La Festa ja està ací – Suite for the Pregón de fiestas d’Ontinyent
Naders (Moorish March)
Maria Bautista (Pasodoble)
Obertura esòtica (Fanfara/Obertura)*
*Dedicated to meetings ‘Com sona l’ESO’
Alfredo Capità (Marcha Cristiana)
50 anys (Tango para marimba y violonchelo)
Rei Gaspar (Fanfarria)
‘Fanfara per a una trobada no comú’ (Fanfara/Obertura)*
*Dedicated to meetings ‘Com sona l’ESO’
El Señorito ‘cojones’ (Pasodoble Contrabandista)
Pepe Guerola Contrabandista (Pasodoble)
‘Bocairent 1984, homenatge als meus pares’ (Pasodoble Sinfónico)
*First prize in the 150th anniversary of Bocairent’s festivities
Orchestral Etude #1
Orchestral Etude #2
Orchestral Etude #3
Rapsòdia Bocairentina (Variation on the dances of Bocairent)
*‘in memoriam’ Joan Martínez
La llegenda d’en Ragra (Christian March)
Jaime ‘Penya’ (Marxa Zuava, m.c.)
‘La Fireta’ (Fantasy for candy and percussion group)