Biography

long version

Josep-Maria Balanyà was born in Barcelona. At an early age he began playing piano and experimenting with percussion instruments. He also sang in a church choir. Later on he was active in the musical wave "Musica Laietana" and played in several bands. At the end of the 70s he moved to Switzerland, where he studied piano, composition and arrangements at the Swiss Jazz School with Vince Benedetti, Fritz Pauer and Joe Haider. He also studied musical psycho-pedagogy at the High Conservatory of Music and in the Bern Theatre. Afterwards, he attended a series of composition workshops, led by Helmut Lachenmann, Walter Zimmermann and Ivan Fedele, all high reputed composers. Nevertheless, his career has driven him into the field of improvisation and performance.

During his stay in Switzerland, he made several radio broadcastings and recordings, and, in between, a CD that reveals his inflexion from Jazz to Contemporary Music. Between 1987 and 1994 he spent long periods in Mexico, also visiting Costa Rica, Venezuela and New York, where he met Borah Bergman. During these trips, he carried out a very intensive work in the research of sounds of nature, which he uses in his creative works.

In 1994, Balanyà met the musician and sound engineer Walter Quintus (Cologne, Germany), and a fruitful collaboration was established between them in the field of music with electronic manipulation in real time. In addition, he has created and performed a theatre play (France, 1992-1993).

More and more his works reflect his interest, not only for the pure sound of the piano especially prepared or manipulated, but also for the research of sounds made with objects normally used in fine arts. In the field of experimental acoustic art and performance, he has written percussion works for sculptures, engraving tools and various objects prepared or created by him. He has worked with artists like Pierre Weber and Uwe Geest.

He also works with phonetic poets like Américo Rodrigues and Carles Hac-Mor and with several multimedia artists. He creates projects with dancers and conducts ensembles and orchestras using his method of conducted improvisation.

His catalogue enshrines more than 115 works. He has published 11 CD. In his projects, musicians like Claudio Pontiggia, Hans Koch, Joachim Kühn, Walter Quintus, Michiel Borstlap, Ksenija Lukić, das Neue Ensemble Hannover, Ana María Rodríguez among others, have played in his projects.

Balanyà is the recipient of diverse grants: Goethe Institut (Berlin, 1996), Land Niedersachsen (Worpswede, Germany, 1997), Land Schleswig-Holstein (Eckernförde, Germany, 1999), Fondazione Marguerite Arp (Locarno, Switzerland, 2003), Goethe Institut (Düsseldorf 2006). 

He has recorded his works in Radio Genève (Switzerland), Radio Televisione Svizzera Italiana (Switzerland), Radio Nacional de España (Spain), Radio Mexico DF, Radio Guadalajara (Mexico), and Radio Bremen (Germany), among others.