This year, the Klarafestival will celebrate the inspiration, imagination, and creative power of humanity. BRUZZ selected 10 unmissable highlights, from Debussy and Messiaen to BL!NDMAN and African Express.
1. Bernstein Story
The series of international orchestras at the Klarafestival is opening with the Houston Symphony, who will give their interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s hit West Side Story. The Colombian director-conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada is notorious for the energetic fire with which kindles all his music. Leading American violinist Hilary Hahn will continue the Bernstein celebration with the wonderful violin concerto Serenade after Plato’s Symposium.
> Leonard Bernstein. 9/3, 20u. Bozar
2. Debussy for friends
Marius Constant’s version of Claude Debussy’s masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande is a whole hour shorter than the original. Constant has used the piano version that Debussy would often play for friends in his parlour. The arrangement for two pianos is a dream come true for Jan Michiels and Inge Spinette. This is also a rare opportunity to hear the best young Belgian voices together in this chamber opera: Reinoud Van Mechelen as Pelléas and Lore Binon as Mélisande.
> Debussy. 10/3, 20u. Flagey
3. Musical Sandstorm
Ensemble Intercontemporain is reprising a classic of new music: Des canyons aux étoiles. Olivier Messiaen continues to surprise us with the soundscapes that he produces with musical instruments, in his attempt to express the breadth of American canyons in music. He even uses an instrument he invented himself: the geophone evokes sandstorms. Matthias Pintscher (photo), himself a productive composer, is the experienced conductor of a fifty-member ensemble.
> Olivier Messiaen. 18/3, 17u. Bozar
4. Timeless Psalms
World-leading theologian Karen Armstrong (photo) will kick off The Psalms Experience, a mini-festival within the Klarafestival. In six concerts across three days at Flagey and the Ter Kameren Abbey, you will hear a kaleidoscope of psalms. Ranging from the Flemish polyphonist Philippe de Monte to a new composition by Michel van der Aa, three leading choirs will perform a selection of works from this ancient and poetic source of inspiration. Each concert will begin with a lively debate.
> The Psalms Experience. 20 > 22/3. Ter Kameren Abbey
5. Sacred Cows
The Franui music group comes from a remote village in Tyrol. Through years of playing together, they have added folky touches to the music of Brahms, Schubert, and Mahler. Alles wieder gut – also the motto of the Klarafestival – is knocking the classical song off its pedestal. The accomplice is bass baritone Florian Boesch, for whom “fine singing” is not enough. Videographer Jonas Dahlberg will contribute to attack sacred cows with images that gradually evaporate.
> Alles wieder gut. 25/3, 17u. Bozar
6. Cosmic Mysticism
In 1970, the German Karlheinz Stockhausen composed one of the pivotal pieces in his oeuvre, Mantra. Distinct from his more intuitive work, he once described how this complex and demanding piece for two ring-modulated pianos was forced upon him by the cosmos. There are occasional silences between the enormous quantity of notes, heightening the sense of mystique. We’re curious to see how Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher take on this all-embracing challenge.
> Karlheins Stockhausen, Mantra. 13/3, 20u. Kaaitheater
7. Exciting Adventures
Musical adventurers are joining forces for the Night of the Unexpected. Surrounded by seven harpsichords and fifty-two sound tapes, the coincidental music will penetrate deep into their bones. In addition to HPSCHD by John Cage (photo), there will also be music by five young composers from the Music Masters on Air project. BL!NDMAN [sax] is celebrating its 30th birthday with work by Cage, Messiaen, and of course Bach. DJs Kopi & Luwak will end the evening with their 78 records.
> John Cage. 26/3, 20u30. Beursschouwburg
9. Rotating Beauty
“We are the things we do repetitively. Excellence is not an act, it is a habit.” These wise words from an ancient Greek are the premise of Loopstation, the new production by the internationally renowned theatre company Ontroerend Goed. The music by the young contemporary composer Joris Blanckaert is a strong argument in favour of its presence here. Just like the rotating disc on which the performers give shape to their habits and provide a counterbalance to this utopia.
> Loopstation. 27 & 28/3, 20u. KVS BOL
10. Minimalism 2.0
The mezzanine of the Autoworld palace in the Parc du Cinquantenaire is a surprising, new location for the festival. Two iconic pieces are getting a make-over by stars from st a r g a z e, Poliça and Africa Express there: Terry Riley’s In C and Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. The former, a minimalist masterpiece, just turned 50, which is reason enough for a group of African musicians to try it on the kora, ngoni, and balafon. The latter combines ground-breaking primitivism and synth-pop.
> St a r g a z e, Poliça and Africa Express. 29/3, 20u. Autoworld
> Klarafestival. 9 > 30/3. Various Locations