Joaquín Valdeón: De la musique avant toute chose.

Joaquin Valdeón could be defined as a multiplied artist. He is not just a creator who produces artwork in different disciplines, but some sort of a protean doer who expresses himself sometimes through visual arts and others through sound, while being true to his ideals. However, it is a fact that both vital and professional trajectory, are marked by music which he keeps as prima inter pares and places “above  anything else”, as if Vervain’s verse had been taken literally. Valdeón conducts the Choir at the University of Oviedo since 1997, a constantly changing entity that renews most of its members each academic year. It seems to be a Heracletian choir-river flowing incessantly while the same rumour echoes and takes us to beautiful and slightly frequented nooks of its repertoire.

Maestro Valdeón is a musician since childhood. He knew how to take advantage of his family’s love for music, beginning  with his grandfather, Jose Menéndez Carreño, Cuchichi, famous singer of Asturian traditional music. Valdeón graduated in Viola and Musicology. His solid education is his trademark. This holistic view of music has allowed him to tackle new repertoires as a conductor, to provide opportunities  for young composers and to face absolute premiers of a large number of works for soloists, choir and orchestra in successful concerts held in many different venues. To mention, the spectacular presentation of  Karl Jenkins’s Mass The armed man or the works by Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke or John Tavener, some of the internationally renowned composers that he brought to the fore in his extensive trajectory as conductor and, in many cases, evenpremiered them in Spain. It is interesting to highlight that his conducting technique comes from the school of Pierre Cao, who unifies the gesture of choir and the orchestra. But Valdeón goes further still and enriches this the English choral tradition where there is room for imagination and even certain plasticity in the results while the sensitive aspect is developed to its fullest extent.

All this experience has yet another field of action in the exercise of musical criticism. Sharp and precise observations, written without mincing words, nourish his commentaries, that, published in different media, could be compiled in a book that would serve as help and guidance to those who wish to enter in this difficult genre, but also for the enjoyment of music lovers.

Valdeón is a master in avoiding the “trodden” path, and not only in the field of academic music. This can be seen in his valuable work on the Misa de gaita, a jewel of Asturian intangible heritage that was declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” in 2013. Valdeón partakes of some of the characteristics of the “renaissance man”, which would be explained by how effortlessly he multiplies himself in the different artistic manifestations.

Gaudeamus igitur.

Ángel Medina.

Professor of Musicology. Universidad de Oviedo.

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