Following his studies at the Conservatori Superior de Música in Barcelona (at the end of which he received the First Prize for composition, piano, harmonisation, and choral conducting), Parra studied composition and music technology at the IRCAM in Paris, and furthered his education at Royaumont, the Acanthes Center, Takefu in Japan, and at the Haute école de musique Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva HEM) under Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Michael Jarrell, Philippe Leroux and Philippe Manoury.
Through his numerous multidisciplinary projects for the stage, Parra has collaborated with various stage designers including Calixto Bieito, Georges Lavaudant, and Vera Nemirova, plastic artists such as Matthew Ritchie and Jaume Plensa, and even the scientists Lisa Randall and Jean-Pierre Luminet.
His opera Das geopferte Leben, based upon an original libretto by Marie NDiaye, was composed for the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Recherche Ensemble. It was premiered during the 2014 Munich Biennale, and hailed by Opernwelt magazine as one of the year’s most promising creations. His last two operas, WILDE (2015) and Les Bienveillantes (2019) - both with libretto by Händl Klaus and staging by Calixto Bieito - are premiered with great success.
Among his latest works is a 60-minute composition for the cellist Arne Deforce, in collaboration with the artist Jaume Plensa, and Inscape, an immersive symphonic work inspired by the cosmological theories of the physicist Jean-Pierre Luminet, composed for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, IRCAM, the Barcelona National Orchestra, the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Lille National Orchestra.
His works have been awarded numerous prizes: the Ernst von Siemens Composition Prize in 2011, the Tendances Prize by the newspaper El Mundo in 2009, the Graz Impuls Prize (Klangforum) in 2008, the San Francisco Earplay Donald Aird Composers Competition prize in 2007, the IRCAM and Ensemble Intercomporain Tremplin prize in 2005, and the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM) Composition Prize in 2002.
He has since received various commissions from institutions such as the Ministries of Culture of France and Spain, the IRCAM, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Berlin Academy of Arts, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, the Munch Biennale Opera, the WDR, the Cologne Philharmonic, the Société Générale’s Musical Sponsorship, Contrechamps, and the Klangforum Wien.
Parra has also developed close and privileged relations with performers and ensembles such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain (Quasikristall, Caressant l’horizon, Hypermusic Prologue, Te craindre en ton absence), and the Ensemble Recherche (Abîme, Early Life) who recorded a monographic CD in honour of the composer (Kairos, 2008), and the Arditti Quartet.
His works are often included in the programmes of international festivals in Lucerne, Warsaw Autumn, Wien Modern, Donaueschingen, Witten, Wien Konzerthaus, Tokyo Suntory Hall, Agora-Ircam, Ars Musica (Bruxelles), Musica (Strasbourg), Staatsoper Berlin, Stuttgart Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelone, San Sebastián, Traiettorie Parma, Steirischer Herbst in Graz, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid and Auditori in Barcelone, Hoy Opera and Musé Reina Sofía in Madrid, Granada International Festival, Luxemburg Philharmonic, Zurich, Kings Place (London), Huddersfield, New York Guggenheim…
Parra’s music has been performed by numerous orchestras, including the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Stuttgart SWR Radio-sinfonieorchester, the Orquesta Nacional de España, the Brussels Philharmonic, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, the Barcelona National Orchestra, the Île de France National Orchestra, and the Holland Symfonia, conducted among others by David Afkham, Michail Jurowski, Kazushi Ono, Emilio Pomárico, Clement Power, Enno Poppe, Peter Rundel, and Lothar Zagrosek…
After a period of time working in the plastic arts (in the studio of Francesc Miñarro in Barcelona), and developing a fascination for art and painting, notably El Greco and Cézanne whose pictorial texture he has sought to express through his music, Hèctor Parra has now turned to his inspiration of theoretical physics and evolutionary biology through Stress Tensor, Mineral Life, Caressant l’Horizon, and InFALL.
Hèctor Parra has lived in Paris since 2002, and is currently a professor of composition at the Ircam-Centre Pompidou.
His music is published by Durand / Universal Music Classical.
Photo : © Tina Merandon