Gemma Ragués Pujol

On June 9th, at our 6th subscription concert at the Stadtcasino Basel, we will present "Female Exploration", featuring works by five strong female composers, including "TRUST ME" by the young composer Gemma Ragués Pujol from Barcelona, in its Swiss premiere. We are very excited about this collaboration and the new piece!

Her pieces seek to be absurd, puzzling and funny. An alliance between voice, text, acoustic instruments, performance, electronics and a lot of force on stage. She uses text and poetry to build up stories and dramaturgies full of onirism, humour and conceptual dilemmas. Recently she is passionate about repetition. As a performer, she has appeared at events such as the Biennale di Venezia Musica 2022 and the Tafelhalle Nürnberg. Her works have been performed at events including the Biennale di Venezia, ECLAT, Jardins Musicaux, and the Bern Music Festival.


1. How did you first come into contact with "classical music" and what does "classical music" mean to you?

As a kid and teenager I was going to a music school. I remember playing and listening to a lot of Haydn, Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart… often from Early music up to Classical (referring to Classical period) and a foot into the Romantic era. There were kids playing viola da gamba, harpsichord and spinet and there were not brass instruments around. I grew up with this sound palette which was quite concrete, it became my common ground and reference. I associated ‘classical music’ to the music that belonged to Classicism.

Later in life I got to know contemporary music and found out that the term "classical music" is commonly used as an opposition to contemporary, so representing a standard or a long-established form. If we use it in this sense, "classical" refers to the things that you consider to be established, and there it starts getting subjective. You can find many contemporary music which could be called "classical", meaning more established.
I prefer to stick with my childhood association: classical music = music from Classicism.

2. You describe yourself as a composer, writer and performer. What are the characteristics of these creative professions, what do they have in common, what makes them different?

I like to use more than one label to expand the concept of composition. It is often linked quickly to music and sound but in my case I see composition as the process to sequence material in time. I search and choose the material that suits best to express each idea; this material can be anything: music, text, video, movement, objects, etc. My task is to organize it and present it.

I don’t see many differences when I write a text or when I write music and often I feel they complement each other. Text can carry meaning in a very direct way and you can be very pragmatic with it. Music is much more abstract. And both have rhythm, dynamics, articulation, tempo, humour and can carry emotions and force.

Performing is a bit different for me. There I am a channel. I like to bring the work to life and to share stage with others, maybe because when composing you are very much alone. This is the other side of the coin. But I try to find a balance, if I am always inside performing I lose perspective of what is happening as a whole.

3. For our next program you have written a new work "TRUST ME": What is it about? What were your ideas while writing and what was your inspiration?

"TRUST ME" presents a loop of thoughts related to trust that appear night after night in someone’s mind featuring an ex-girlfriend, a boss, Jack and Rose, mum and a therapist.

The text and concept came from the belief that trust is essential in healthy relationships. If trust breaks the relationship can be dramatically unbalanced. The fear of losing trust overwhelms the character and creates an escalation of racing thoughts. In an attempt to organize the loop, the character lists them every night in their order of appearance.

The piece is based on some personal experiences and also there is a lot of fiction added to it. I like talking about day to day experiences and domestic situations and to approach difficult circumstances with humour, I think it can shift perspectives and bring us compassion and well-being.

4. If you hadn't become an artist, what would you have become?

One thing is being an artist and another one is having a living exclusively out of it – which is very tough and challenging nowadays due to the low value given to culture –. Living from it comes and goes and has little to do with being an artist yourself or not.

When I was a little kid I liked inventing new words, my own code and languages. I remember I had a "secret dictionary" where I was writing the words I came up with and their meaning. I think back at the times I was and artist or a creator already.

Now I am lucky to materialize this creative spirit through composition. I like to believe that if it was not composition I would have found other ways to be creative, either as the main profession or in my free time.

5. The Basel Sinfonietta has made it its mission to perform "music at the pulse of time". What drives you? And how do you want to move the world?

For me art is an ancestral form of human expression. I see concerts, exhibitions, readings, stories etc. as ritualistic experiences or gatherings which seek understanding and communication in very intimate ways and I believe they can have a profound impact on individuals and communities.

I like to be part of spaces that are open to accept diverse voices and where new ideas and forms of expression are welcome to flourish.

I take each project as a new creative system that needs a way to materialize. This stimulates me, it feels sometimes as facing a mathematical problem that no-one has solved before. This personal and intimate phase makes me move forward and turns my engines on, it is a big part of the process but ultimately my goal is to share my creations. You never really know the outcome (unless people tell you) but I believe in the power of arts to provoke thought, evoke emotions and drive social change.

Gemma Ragués Pujol

Photo: Pablo Fernandez


We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.