Oriol Bastardes began his career with SYA Spain in 1992 while our campus was based in Barcelona and moved to Zaragoza in 1998 when our campus relocated there. An amateur composer, Oriol received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Barcelona while also receiving a master’s from the Municipal Conservatory of Barcelona.
In the fall of 2001, he launched a theater class that was designed to complement the literature curriculum by bringing Spanish dramatic literature to life on the stage. Students perform for peers, faculty, Spanish families and members of the Zaragoza community.
On SYA’s annual giving day in April 2020, Oriol Bastardes, SYA Spain faculty, performed his original composition "La Aljaferia." Listen here.
SYA Spain: History, Theater and Curriculum Coordinator
B.A., M.A. University of Barcelona, M.A. Municipal Conservatory of Barcelona
Uprooting your home and moving to Zaragoza speaks volumes to your dedication to teaching American high school students. But why did you choose to stay with SYA?
I chose to move to Zaragoza because being in a job that you really like is more important than living in a more attractive city than another. I cannot deny that it was a difficult decision, but now that I see it with the perspective of time, I am convinced that I did the best for myself. And anyway, the distance between the two cities allows me to continue to have a strong connection with my hometown. Finally, I have to say that working with SYA Spain’s extraordinary team of teachers is the best personal and professional experience of my life.
What do you enjoy most about teaching, or what has been the most rewarding?
Without a doubt, the best thing about teaching at SYA has been for me the motivation of our students. I also find the cultural exchange that takes place between students and teachers in our school very enriching. Before, I worked for six years at the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona, which was also an excellent experience, but SYA represented a challenge towards something more exciting and innovative.
Why is theater an important part of your teaching?
The introduction of the theater subject in our curriculum was a great idea. In this class, the exposure and practice of the language is constant, there is a very nice atmosphere of camaraderie and teamwork is carried out. Due to having the performances in a public theater, the class also has a social dimension that brings together students, teachers, friends, host families and in December, our American families who are visiting.
What is your hope for this generation of students?
My greatest wish is that they enjoy and learn a lot from the experience that SYA offers them, and that it will transcend their year with us. This is already the case for most of our students, but I would like excessive globalization not to interfere with this process. As I always say, I hope that our program will continue to make its small contribution in creating a more tolerant and better-known world.
Who is your favorite composer?
There are so many fascinating composers that it is impossible for me to say which one is my favorite. Among those I like the most, I would highlight George Gershwin for his successful contribution to bringing the world of jazz closer to classical music. Also, Claude Debussy for having opened a new musical language that radically changed the musical panorama before him. Finally, I want to highlight the three great classics of Spanish music from the 20th century which I have often performed and which are fantastic: Albéniz, Granados and Falla.