The Catalonian-Spanish conductor Josep Pons has been a versatile artist whose experience ranges from historical performance to contemporary music. Since the late 1990s he has been associated with the Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house in Barcelona.
Pons was born in the small town of Puig-reig in Spain's Catalonia region. He sang in the Escolania de Montserrat, a boys' choir maintained by a monastery near Barcelona, and there he received basic musical training. In Barcelona he studied conducting with Antoni Ros-Marbà and composition with Josep Soler, obtaining a grounding in both antique polyphony and contemporary music that would remain influential in his adult career. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pons directed several influential local ensembles in Catalonia. In 1985, he co-founded the Chamber Orchestra of the Lliure Theater in Barcelona, which despite its name devoted itself to instrumental music rather than theatrical productions; the group specialized in contemporary music and made recordings of works by Mompou, Falla, and Stravinsky as well as contemporary Catalonian composers. He also directed the Coral Càrmina, which as of 1987 functioned as the choir of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. Pons served as the musical director of the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992. The following year, he assumed the directorship of the Catalonia Youth Symphony, later renamed the Catalonia National Youth Symphony; he remained there until 2001, for most of that time also conducting the City of Granada Symphony (1994-2004). In the 2000s and 2010s, he has made numerous guest conducting appearances both in and outside of Spain. Pons also began working as assistant conductor at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, becoming its music director in 2010 and leading the world premieres of several contemporary operas there.
On recordings Pons has frequently been associated with the Harmonia Mundi label, recording, among other things, music by Italian film composer Nino Rota (with the City of Granada Symphony) in addition to Spanish works. In 2019, Pons led a performance of Granados' opera Goyescas for Harmonia Mundi, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers. Pons received the City of Barcelona Award in 1992 and Spain's National Prize for Music in 1999.