Orquesta La Pasión
Orquesta La Pasión was created in 2006 for the world tour of Osvaldo Golijov's La
Pasión según San Marcos. Its origins, however, date back to the first performance of
the piece in Stuttgart in 2000. A hand-picked group of 14 musicians, the Orquesta serves as
the vibrant foundation of percussionists, brass players, and other instrumentalists who
lead the chorus through the surging drama of the score. The leaders, Mikael Ringquist and
Gonzalo Grau, were instrumental in the conception, orchestration, and creation of the
piece, and serve as the group leaders for this percussion-driven work.
Mikael Ringquist was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He began musical studies at the age of
nine on trumpet and trombone, but his interest soon turned to percussion. He made his first
recording at age 15, and by age 17 had signed a recording contract with Sound of
Scandinavia Records, leading to tours and performances throughout Scandinavia.
Mr. Ringquist moved to Boston in 1983 to study film scoring at Berklee College of Music,
where he met legendary Cuban percussionist Lazaro "Watusi" Pérez (also known as "Cinco
Tumbas"), who introduced him to the world of Afro-Cuban folkloric drumming, as well as the
mysterious world of batá drumming and La Regla de Ocha (Santería). Mr.
Ringquist continued to study batá drums with Felix Sanabria and master
drummer Orlando "Puntílla" Rios, and was eventually initiated as Omó Añá (consecrated
drummer) in 1989. He has performed with various groups on tour and in concerts and
festivals in Europe and the US.
Mr. Ringquist served as percussion consultant, orchestrator, and collaborator for La
Pasión según San Marcos. He teaches at Berklee College of Music, where he designs and
coordinates the curriculum for Afro-Cuban and Brazilian hand percussion and drum set.
Gonzalo Grau began his musical studies at the age of three in Caracas, where he learned to
play many instruments from the viola da gamba and the cello to the flamenco cajón and his
principal instrument, the piano. A Berklee College of Music graduate, Mr. Grau has
established himself as a multi-instrumentalist with varied credits that range from
performances with Venezuelan music projects like Maroa, Schola Cantorum de Venezuela, and
the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela to appearances with jazz icons like Maria
Schneider and the Latin jazz giant Timbalaye.
Mr. Grau also leads two projects of his own: Plural (Latin jazz-flamenco fusion) and La
Clave Secreta (salsa fusion), whose album was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award. He has
participated in more than 80 recording projects as performer, producer, or composer. A
versatile artist, he bridges the classical and popular music worlds. His recent
contributions include collaborations with composer Osvaldo Golijov for La Pasión según
San Marcos and Ainadamar, recording production on Rolando Villazón's
México!, and the Labeque sisters' Nazareno and West Side
Story, as well as commissions for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra. His new oratorio Aqua, commissioned by the Internationale
Bachakademie Stuttgart, won the European Composer Award 2011.