Asier Polo, National Music Award

Asier Polo has been awarded the National Music Award, the highest recognition granted by the Spanish Government through the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

The jury has decided to grant the award to Asier Polo, “for his artistic excellence as a performer and for his long international career.” In addition to “his approach to the great repertoire”, the jury highlighted “his commitment to Spanish music and, especially, to contemporary music”. They also emphasized his “numerous musical recordings” and his “relevant teaching facet.”


I am delighted to receive the National Music Award for 2019. I would like to thank the jury and the Ministry for Culture and Sports of Spain for having considered my career deserving of this prize and I would also like to congratulate Félix Ibarrondo for his award in the composition category. 

These situations make one reflect and inevitably look back. Music has always been a nexus for so many experiences during my life, but these experiences would not have been possible without the support of many people who have accompanied and impelled me on this journey of the emotions: conductors like Max Bragado, who made me step onto the stage without hesitation to play my first concert as a soloist with an orchestra; Alfredo Kraus, a great driving force behind me, who trusted me blindly and from whom I learned so much as a musician; Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who projected my career internationally; Juanjo Mena, who has always been close to me since we were students and still is; composers such as Antón García Abril, Luis de Pablo, Jesús Villa-Rojo or Carmelo Bernaola, who were the first to write cello concertos for me and who set a precedent for my collaboration with new generations; Marta Zabaleta, my most assiduous companion in the world of chamber music, who has always been enthusiastic and passionate about her profession; Humberto Orán, manager and friend who has accompanied me throughout my career, Rosa García and the entire Musiespaña team; Paloma O’Shea for her always selfless support; the JONDE, with whose members I shared so many unforgettable moments; Mikel Cañada and the rest of my family, for their unconditional support; and, last but not least, my audiences at my concerts, who with their energy have reinforced each one of my steps. I know that I have left many people out, but my thanks to each and every one of those who have accompanied me. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. 

I do not know if becoming a successful musician is a matter of personality, ability, talent or luck but, work, a lot of it, has always been at the forefront. Since I won the prize, at the age of 16, for Young Musicians in Spain when I realized the impact that the fact of stepping onto a stage had on me, my aim has always been to work hard in order to reach the standard required to go on stage. And, year after year, I have continued the search for new incentives and new objectives to keep that illusion intact and continue to grow as a musician and as a human being. 

I have always tried to be as much of an all round musician as possible, which has brought me closer to teaching. Transmitting knowledge and learning from other generations is a tremendously enriching experience. I am very happy that institutions such as Musikene or the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana, where I teach today, have a commitment to their teachers continuing as active musicians and ensure that this happens. It ought to be a matter of pride for a conservatoire to have active musicians on their staff. And this compatibility should be the norm and not the exception. The conservatoire should be a place where the students can feel respect and admiration for the person who guides them, and where the musician can continue to grow both in and outside the classroom. 

With regard to the above, in my life I have seen that music and the arts in general are a very powerful means of personal growth. They help us to know ourselves intimately, to express our emotions and to understand where we come from; they sensitize the human being, and that personal discovery can help to create a better, more developed, society. We cannot allow something so important to be suppressed or pushed into the background, far away from education or our day-to-day life. Music as well as all the arts should not be a mere extra, but a priority. 

In gratitude for this award and with renewed enthusiasm, I shall continue with ever greater energy along my path of exploring and awakening emotions. 

Asier Polo