Antonia Vilàs i Ferrándiz

The most prolific Catalan composer of habaneras is from Barceloneta.

Born in Barceloneta in 1926, the versatile Antonia Vilàs has always lived in the neighbourhood. Poet, rhapsodist, singer, lyricist and composer especially of habaneras among which stands out the classic “Mother, I want to be a fisherman”.

Proving that it is never too late to start a brilliant career, Antonia wrote her first poem at the age of 52. These first verses dedicated to her mother would be followed by many more published in different publications. Some of them included in the compilation “55 Poetas de hoy” (55 Poets of today) and many of them set to music by famous composers. She is part of the poetic group “Poesía Viva”.

In 1982 she composed her first habanera “Boga boga Marinero” dedicated to her husband. Her creativity and curiosity lead her to compose, in addition, hymns, sailor rafts, melodies, choral songs, sardanas, boleros and finals and all pieces of humorous nature. There are many groups that will interpret her habaneras, especially the mythical “Mother, I want to be a fisherman”.

A reference in the world of the habanera, there are numerous recognitions and dedications received throughout his life. To highlight, the album “Encuentro en Calella” of the group Mar Endins, the compilation “El Grupo de Habaneras Desplega Veles canta a Antonia Vilàs” and especially the tribute concert at the Palau de la Música in October 2006 and 2012 at the legendary tavern “La Hermosa Lola” in Calella de Palafrugell. In 2008 she was awarded one of the prizes “2×4 a ritmo de Habanera” of the Ernest Morató Foundation, entity to which she ceded her documentary collection.

But she never, ever, separates herself from the neighbourhood. In 1987 she founded the Association of Friends of the Habaneras “Port Vell”, which she presided until 2006 and which organizes the “Encuentro Barcelona Cara en el Mar”. She promoted poetic and musical recitals in the Civic Center of Barceloneta and concerts in the Church of Saint Michael of the Port.

Died at the age of 86, at the Hospital de la Mar, she was posthumously awarded the “Medal of Honor 2013” by the Barcelona City Council “for a life dedicated to poetry and composition, particularly of habaneras, and for her involvement in the Barceloneta neighbourhood”, it reads.

Dear reader. I must admit that, like perhaps you, I didn’t know the story of Antònia Vilàs either. When her -also restless- nephew Josep Ribas told us about her, we discovered an exciting woman of whom I would like to highlight two aspects. One, she did not start what would become a brilliant artistic career until she was 52 years old! And two, she will always boast of the neighbourhood where she was born and from which she never left: her Barceloneta.

Talent, but above all passion for what she did. Affection but above all proud of her origins. Now we know more about Antònia Vilàs.

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