Carla Conangla, born in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona, Spain) in 1997, is the winner ex aequo of the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2018, and ensures that receiving this award “has been a unique opportunity and help for my promotion and artistic development”. She also stresses that “it has meant recognition and reward for so many hours of sacrifice, and the honour and satisfaction of being ambassador of the Pablo Casals Foundation“.

The cellist is currently studying a master’s degree with Giovanni Gnocchi at the Mozarteum musical institution in Salzburg, encourages young musicians to apply to the Pablo Casals International Award 2020, since “the important thing is the experience of participating and the effort to prepare to be the best”.

What were your first steps in the world of music? Why did you choose the cello as an instrument?

The passion for music runs in my family where everyone has studied an instrument, from my great-grandfather, composer and pianist to my twin sister who is doing a violin master. My mother explains that during the pregnancy, when she sang as a soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the Messiah of Händel, my sister and I would not stop kicking. My sister and I liked string instruments and since she was smaller than me, she chose the violin and I chose the cello.

Which are the centres where you have done your most relevant studies? Who have been your teachers?

I undertook the Intermediate Degree with Iñaki Etxepare at the Fusion School of Music and Dance in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona), the Professional Degree with Peter Thiemann at the Liceu Conservatory of Music in Barcelona, the Superior Degree with Gustav Rivinius at the Maastricht Conservatory and now I’m currently studying my master’s degree with Giovanni Gnocchi at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

What made you decide to apply for the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2018?

I decided to apply for the Pablo Casals International Award because the objectives of the award matched with my needs and qualities. Also, because Pablo Casals has always been one of my great references, for his incredible way of playing and for his honest approach to music. Although, I decided to present myself because throughout the history of the Award, renowned cellists with international careers have received the support of the Pablo Casals Foundation.

What has it meant for your artistic career and for your personal development, to participate and to win in the Pablo Casals International Award for Young Cellists 2018?

Winning the Award has been a unique opportunity and help for my promotion and artistic development. Having received the prize has put me in the spotlight, in a privileged place that one cannot miss. It also helps you to see that you have reached one of the necessary stages of the journey and encourages you to pursue your dreams. It has also meant the recognition and reward of so many hours of sacrifice, and the honour and satisfaction of being ambassador to the Pablo Casals Foundation.

In addition to the financial contribution, which has been a great support to continue my studies in Salzburg, I have had the opportunity to act at numerous events organised by the Foundation, as well as the Klâipeda International Cello Festival and Competition (Lithuana) and the next tour of the Music Network of the Juventudes Musicales de España (JM Spain).

Who are your reference cellists? What challenges or goals have you set for your career development?

My referents have been and are my cello teachers. All of them have left their mark on the way I express myself, my essence is a combination of all of them, as well as other musical experiences and the people around me. I was very lucky to have met all of them, I have a very special relationship that I know will last forever.

In the development of my career I would like to further into all fields: playing in an orchestra, making chamber music, and having solo cello repertoire. I believe that each of these aspects brings me different things and helps me to be better in each area. During college and grad school, you have to be prepared for everything. Nowadays the world of music is very competitive and therefore, we have to develop several fields as a musician. The amount of different repertoire and composers you know positively affects the way you see and interpret music.

“…What is important is the experience of participating and the effort to prepare to be the best…”

Why are competitions important in the artistic and professional development of young musicians?

I think they are important because of the effort, dedication, and discipline they entail. They allow me to be self-demanding and to seek perfection during the preparation process. They are new experiences that encourage you to be better, they allow you a growing progress of your abilities and teach you to keep in mind the spirit of achievement and constancy.

As a finalist for the Pablo Casals International Award, you had the opportunity to visit the Pablo Casals Museum and meet Marta Casals. What meant to you this experience?

The visit of the Pablo Casals Museum was very inspiring on a personal level because it made me reflect on the principles and values to have in life. Pablo Casals is an example to follow and unfortunately there are still people who do not know his life. I think anyone who appreciates the cello master would have to visit the Pablo Casals Museum. In addition, establishing contact with Marta Casals and the Foundation has given me a great deal of confidence and made me believe in myself and gain security.

What would you highlight about Pablo Casals’ musical and human legacy?

In addition of being one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century, I would highlight his fight for peace, freedom, and justice in the world. An artist committed to his ideals who dedicated part of his life to the neediest. He is an international reference in the interpretation of the cello and the Bach Cello Suites.

What is the repertoire that interests you the most? Do you have a favourite composer?

I find myself very comfortable in the classical repertoire, although I have a special fascination for Schumann, his cello concerto is one of my favourite works. However, I like to know all the music written for my instrument and listen as much as I can.

Would you recommend to other young cellists to present themselves to the Pablo Casals International Award? Why?

To all the cellists who want to participate to the Award, I would say that it is worth to try because for me it has marked a before and an after in my career. It is a great reward for any young musician, since winning a place in this competitive world is very complicated and the Award opens doors. My advice is to try, as what is important is the experience of participating and the effort to prepare to be the best.

What music do you listen to these days of confinement? Could you make some recommendations?

The last I have heard these days have been the videos of the channel of the Berliner Philarmoniker, such as the Symphony Nº7 of Beethoven, the Symphony Nº5 of Tchaikovsky and Don Quixote of Strauss with Rostropovich and Karajan. I have not heard much more because I have been home doing repertoire and online classes.