Al Ayre Español

National Music Prize 2004

Zaragoza’s Ambassador

Al Ayre Español was founded in 1988 by Eduardo López Banzo, in an effort to challenge the pervading clichés that often surrounded the performance of Spanish baroque music at that time. The name of the ensemble was inspired by the title of a guitar fugue by the Aragonese composer Gaspar Sanz. The fact that Al Ayre Español has not settled for becoming a specialized early music ensemble, but chosen instead to create a musical philosophy "al ayre español" (à la espagnole), has allowed the project to be flexible enough to adapt itself to different formats; as a baroque orchestra –internationally acclaimed by its performances of Handel and Bach, and lately, as a classicalromantic orchestra, with opera and concert performances of Haydn and Mozart.

Al Ayre Español has performed at the most prestigious concert halls: Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Düsseldorf's Tonhalle, Berlin's Konzerthaus and Philharmonie, the Opera Comique, Théatre des Champs Elysées and the Cité de la Musique in Paris, Madrid's Teatro Real and Auditorio Nacional, Barcelona's Palau de la Musica Catalana and Gran Teatre del Liceu, Valencia's Palau de les Arts and Palau de la Música, Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, Washington's Library of Congress, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Metz's Arsenal, Lisbon's Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Bilbao's Palacio Euskalduna, Rome's Teatro Olimpico,etc.

Al Ayre Español has also been invited to some of the most important festivals: Baden Baden Easter Festival, Bachstpiele Leipzig, Oude Muziek Utrecht, Bruges MA Festival, Internationale Festtage Alter Musik Stuttgart, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Dresdner Musikfestpiele, Festival d'Ambronay, Festival de Beaune, Handel Festspiele Halle, etc. Al Ayre Español’s recordings have been produced by labels such as Almaviva, Fidelio, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Harmonia Mundi, Naïve-Ambroisie and Challenge Records. Al Ayre Español is sponsored by the Gobierno de Aragón (Aragonese government), Axial Wines, Ibercaja Bank, Industrias Químicas del Ebro and the Ministry of Culture of Spain, and maintains a residence agreement with the Auditorio de Zaragoza. The ensemble has been Zaragoza’s ambassador since 2011.


Eduardo López Banzo, born in Zaragoza in 1961, is one of the European conductors who has made Historicism his own musical philosophy with the most conviction, in order to bring his musicians closer to the sources and spirit of each composition, which results in the music sounding fresh and innovative to contemporary audiences after so many centuries. A harpsichordist by training, he studied in Amsterdam with Gustav Leonhardt, who encouraged him to champion the cause of Spanish baroque music. In 2002 he received the Medal of Honor of the Conservatory of Music of the Balearic Islands for his work in favor of the baroque composer Antonio de Literes, but it was in 2004 that he achieved major success, when Al Ayre Español, the group he had founded in 1988, was awarded the Spanish National Music Prize, granted by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, in recognition to their more than twenty years of musicological rigour and performance excellence. This acknowledgement leads to Al Ayre Español becoming a point of reference for historicist interpretation all across Europe. He has been invited to conduct for the symphonic orchestras of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Galicia, Madrid, Granada and Comunitat de Valencia, and period instruments ensembles such as New York Collegium, San Francisco's Philarmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Belgian B'Rock, and the Polish Arte dei Suonatori. In the operatic field, Eduardo Lopez Banzo is currently one of the most important specialists in Handel's operas. He has also participated in stage productions by Bilbao's Friends of Opera Association (ABAO/OLBE), in Valencia's Palau de les Arts with the Orquestra de la Comunitat de Valencia, and in Kiel Opera with the Philarmonisches Orchester Kiel. He has also lectured and conducted specialized courses at the Universities of Salamanca, Alcalá de Henares, UIMP Santander and Zaragoza, and every year gives a renowned course on the baroque cantata in León (Centro Nacional de Difusión Musical, Spain’s Ministry of Culture). Eduardo López Banzo was honored with the Key to the City of Zaragoza award in October 2010.