Joaquim Uriach

President of the Palau de la Música Catalana

“Some people still don’t know the Palau”

Although he became president of the Palau de la Música a year and a half ago, coinciding with the presentation of a new strategic plan, Joaquim Uriach (Barcelona, 1966), a businessman in the pharmaceutical sector and a lawyer, is only now giving his first interviews. He is optimistic about the future not only of the Palau but also of Barcelona itself.

How did your relationship with the Palau begin?
Like so many other members, thanks to my grandfather, who took me there when I was 14 or 15. I’ve always liked music, and I think I’m sensitive to it. I started playing the piano when I was 17. At school, for example, some people couldn’t stand music class, but I loved it. My grandfather went to festivals in places like Lucerne and Bayreuth, and he took me to the Salzburg Easter Festival when I was 14. I loved it. Von Karajan was directing with those hands he had, and it was spectacular. And I’ve never forgotten that Parsifal either. So it was my grandfather who showed me this world before anyone else....
What Palau did you find last year when you became president?
A very well organised one. And then, also, a very professional team that, despite having been at the board meetings, I didn’t know at all. I was also impressed by the great respect that concert halls of the highest European and world order have for the Palau, as well as the artists who come to perform there.
Fifteen years after the Fèlix Millet financial scandal, has the Palau fully regained people’s trust?
Yes. One of the good things about Mariona Carulla’s time as president was managing to regain that trust. This is a very solid institution and, despite the seriousness of what happened, it managed to maintain that trust, as evidenced by the fact that we have grown, both in number of members and funds. Numbers aside, though, I notice that society in general loves the Orfeó Català, the Palau... and wants things to go well.
In the presentation of the new strategic plan a few weeks ago, you described it as ambitious and full of great aspirations. Which would be the most important?
To make the Palau even more universal. That would be a summary of the plan. We’ve always had the desire to combine the universal with the local, and this is something we would like to continue influencing in the future.
You have also set the goal of increasing audience numbers by a few tens of thousands. How will you achieve that?
Well, there are marketing tools to access and attract audiences. We know, for example, that about 80% only come once a year. These are people who know for sure that they love the Palau and music, but we must work to make them come more often. And, on the other hand, there are many who still don’t know the Palau and who would love it. There are times when you talk to certain people, and when they tell you they’ve never been, you think, “Wow, has someone like you really never been to the Palau?” I can understand that someone from a town in Catalonia far from Barcelona has never set foot in it, but there are other people who frankly surprise me.

Interview CULTURE

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