Friday, September 26, 2014

Catalan tenor Josep Carreras: "We are an adult people and we know how to make our own decisions"

On Tuesday evening the Barcelona-born opera tenor, Josep Carreras, received the Golden Medal of the Catalan Parliament for his outstanding and internationally-recognised professional career, but also for his efforts leading a foundation that fights Leukaemia. In his acceptance speech, Carreras defended Catalonia's right to self-determination and the independence vote scheduled for the 9th of November. Carreras, who became a true world star in the 1990s with the Three Tenors (together with Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo), praised the idiom "live and let live", meaning that the Spanish authorities should authorise the self-determination vote. He asked the Catalan MPs to "to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the others live and let us live". His words were particularly relevant as they were said at such an important institutional event and two days ahead of the massive pro-independence demonstration, which will take place in Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day (the 11th of September). In the ceremony, which took place in the Parliament's auditorium, the chamber choir of the Liceu music academy (Cor de Cambra del Conservatori del Liceu) performed two opera themes from Madama Butterfly and Nabucco, as well as a song based on a Catalan poem,L'Emigrant. Carreras also sung in this last song. The president of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, thanked the tenor for his "courage" and "commitment to Catalonia", which he has "always showed everywhere, even when some comments could have harmed him".


Josep Carreras
"We are an adult people and we know how to make our own decisions", stated Josep Carreras referring to the self-determination consultation vote. He made such a statement when he received the Catalan Parliament's Golden Medal, which is the Chamber's higher distinction, awarded once per year to a person or institution and representing one of Catalonia's highest honours. The tenor praised some values shared by Catalan society, such as creativity and entrepreneurship, and regretted that the Spanish Government does not always work to solve its problems. According to Carreras, Catalans "never expect the Spanish State to solve all of their problems, quite the contrary". However, he was also auto-critical and stated that "we [Catalans] do not need adversaries, because when we split, we are very weak", insisting that Catalan parties should remain united to support the right to self-determination and the vote scheduled for the 9th of November.

Carreras, aged 67, thanked his family, his first music teacher and the Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé, who became his artistic godmother when he began his career. He also thanked the doctors who cured him from Leukaemia. In July 1987 the tenor was diagnosed with this illness when he was at the peak of his career. In July 1988, he founded the Josep Carreras Foundation against Leukaemia, as a way to return " a permanent gratitude testimony to science and society for the support and care received during his illness", as stated on the institution's website. Along its 26 years of activity, this organisation has promoted the donation of bone marrow worldwide, as well as umbilical cord blood. With its main headquarters in Barcelona, and with offices in the United States, Switzerland and Germany, the foundation has funded research projects worldwide. In 2010, they launched the first research institute in the world which was exclusively focused on Leukaemia, based in Barcelona in cooperation with the prestigious Clínic Hospital. The Foundation, which has a €7 million annual budget, is also developing programmes to support families, such as flats available for relatives when they have a loved one staying in hospital to receive treatment.

Read also: 
Spanish Media Call a boycott of the Carrera's Charity for leukemia


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