Artistic Director

Artistic Director - Spanish National Concert Hall in Madrid (2007 - 2008)

Artistic Director - Spanish National Concert Hall in Madrid (2007 - 2008)

Creating new audiences for the organ - The ‘Organ Project’ – its origins, ethos & design

Text written by Geoffrey Walker, UK

In 2007 the Spanish National Orchestra and Choir signed a contract with the 27 year old Raul Prieto Ramirez for a very special assignment. The audiences for organ concerts in the National Concert Hall in Madrid had dwindled to just a handful of people in recent years. So poor was the situation that the promoters were resolved to stop the series of concerts at the earliest opportunity.


Just when all hope was lost, the name of Raul Prieto Ramirez came to the attention of the authorities responsible for organizing the events at the Auditorio Nacional. Raul’s reputation for building large and appreciative audiences at his performances throughout Spain had reached Madrid, and the Directors of the National Concert Hall asked Raul to create and develop a project whose final result would be a loyal and growing audience for their organ events.


The programme developed by Raul was called the ‘Organ Project’ and it comprised a number of integrated areas:

  • Three different educational activities for children, directed by Raul himself and using several collaborators;

  • A series of informal concerts for interested music-lovers, linked by common ‘themes’, in which Raul plays, talks about the organ and its music and answers a wide range of questions put to him by audience members.

  • A great variety of concert designs that integrate artistic light and video projection with well-developed concert programmes (agreed with the invited artist) – giving a fully-rounded annual series with sense of unity from the first to last activity of each year.


Raul himself was also the main organist for the National Orchestra and Choir concerts.

Artistic Director - Spanish National Concert Hall in Madrid (2007 - 2008)

Creating new audiences for the organ - The ‘Organ Project’ – its origins, ethos & design

Text written by Geoffrey Walker, UK

Raul personally oversees all aspects of promoting the organ events – planning the publicity strategies, undertaking press and media interviews, arranging the hand bills and poster designs, preparing the programme notes for all concerts, organizing the lighting and other technical features used in the concerts, and building a close relationship with the newly-won audiences through the National Orchestra’s special Blog at its website.

 

Within the first few months of its existence the Organ Project is proving to be extraordinarily successful –audience numbers have multiplied by more than 20 times the previous attendances, literally hundreds of children have been able to explore and work around the musical and technical aspects of the organ and, for the first time ever in Madrid, audiences have been able to talk with Raul during live concerts as he answers the questions put to him by the interested members of the public.
 

The audiences, in turn, have been hugely appreciative of the Organ Project series

– demanding encores at every organ concert (the first time for many years that this has

happened at the Madrid auditorium). Raul clearly is succeeding in making friendly and

welcoming organ events in which audiences feel artistically involved.

Artistic Director - Spanish National Concert Hall in Madrid (2007 - 2008)

Creating new audiences for the organ - The ‘Organ Project’ – its origins, ethos & design

Text written by Geoffrey Walker, UK

Educational Projects
Raul Prieto Ramirez has a long history and much experience of working with children on

music for the organ. He is an artist totally convinced of the value of music as an expression

of culture within society. Avoiding any tendency to judge one musical tradition against

another, he presents the organ as the most complex and fascinating musical instrument

developed in human history – and he explores this through music written for the instrument

and new music developments of nowadays.


Raul’s approach is, however, far from the dry explanations of music played or tedious

histories of the ‘normal’ concert format. Instead, Raul gets a real sense of active ‘hands-on’

involvement from the children.

Through three sessions (two at school and one at Madrid Concert Hall) the children build the activities themselves –within Raul’s overall supervision and educational plan:
All Aboard! I - All Aboard! II - Cutting a path through a forest of pipes