Soprano Montserrat Figueras, who specialized in early music, is being remembered by her native city of Barcelona with a garden dedicated in her name, located in Barcelona’s Eixample district, specifically in the Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample. The City of Barcelona decided in June 2016 to name the interior garden as the Montserrat Figueras Gardens (Jardins de Montserrat Figueras). A plaque in her honor will be placed in the garden during this year’s annual neighborhood festival, which is celebrated at the end of September and the first week of October.
The garden is one of some 50 interior gardens in the Eixample district, first envisioned by Ildefons Cerdà, one of the great city planners of the nineteenth century and the designer of Barcelona’s city expansion or extension: literally “eixample.” “In each of these spaces enclosed by city streets,” wrote Cerdà, “there is a small world, a little city or elemental metropolis.” Barcelona’s Eixample district is well known for its Modernista architecture and is home to Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Milà (known as La Pedrera), Casa Batlló, and the cathedral La Sagrada Família.
Montserrat Figueras i García died in 2011 at age 69 after a long battle with cancer. She was one of the great interpreters of vocal music from the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. Born in Barcelona into a family of music-lovers, she worked with the man who would become her husband, viola da gambist and conductor Jordi Savall, at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Musik-Akademie in Basel, Switzerland. From an early age, she performed with Enric Gispert and the medieval music ensemble Ars Musicae. Her performance style, characterized by a close fidelity to historical sources and extraordinary creative and expressive skills, has influenced the entire historical-music movement. Together, Figueras and Savall founded the music ensembles Hespèrion XX (now Hespèrion XXI), La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and Le Concert des Nations, as well as the record label Alia Vox, which, since 1998, has produced some 125 releases. Her children, harpist and soprano Arianna Savall and composer and vocalist Ferran Savall, are professional musicians and continue the family tradition of exploring the worlds of early music and world music performances.