Curator #74: Joan Arnau Pàmies


Hi there,

My name is Joan Arnau Pàmies Olivé (@joanarnaupamies) and I’m a 26-year-old composer currently based in Chicago. I was born and raised in Reus, a town south of Barcelona. When I was nineteen, I moved to Boston to pursue my Bachelor of Music in Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. In 2011, I started my Doctorate of Musical Arts at Northwestern University, where I also teach Aural Skills and Music Theory.

Music has always been a very important part of my life. My father was a Professor of Catalan but also a self-taught musicologist who loved jazz and popular music. I probably got into music because of him, so I started taking piano lessons in my hometown at age five. One day during my teens, I remember realizing while I was practicing that I could write my own music instead of performing that of others. Since then this is what I have primarily been doing. Currently, my music emerges from underlying issues related to text, sonic outcome, and the distinction between composition and interpretation as categorically different activities. Particularly, I explore unconventional notational strategies—using different methods beyond the conventional “noteheads and rhythms”—in order to develop intricate formal processes.

Living in the United States has been a very fulfilling experience for several reasons. The first one has to do with learning compositional strategies and ideas that I wouldn’t have had access to had I stayed in Catalonia. The second one is related to personal development and my learning of English as a third language: considering that English has become the lingua franca of the planet, I feel fortunate to be fluent at it. Last but not least, coming to the United States brought me to meet my girlfriend Kathryn, whom I live with in Chicago. Kathryn is from Hawaii and I am from Catalonia, arguably two of the most beautiful places in the world. It is ironic that we live in Chicago, where winters are extremely cold! We hope one day we can move back to the warmth of either Hawaii or Catalonia, we’ll see!  

Kathryn is also a double bass player and we collaborate together regularly (in other words, I write pieces for her and she performs them), which is particularly nice because it allows us to travel frequently. We have put shows together in Berlin, New Orleans, Montreal, New York, Mexico City, and even Reus! We hope to keep traveling as much as we can, since it is a fantastic way to learn from other cultures and peoples.

I look forward to curating for @catalanvoices. I plan on sharing a variety of things, from casual aspects of my life to larger issues related to music, aesthetics, socioeconomic issues, and politics.

Let’s do it!  


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