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Laus Polyphoniae 2023. Antwerp. Townscape – Soundscape

What does a city sound like? If you walk through the streets of Antwerp today, you will hear all kinds of different sounds: cars, trams, snatches of conversation and so on. But what did Antwerp sound like in the 15th and 16th centuries? Very different, to be sure. But it certainly wasn’t a haven of peace and quiet! We can imagine the shouting and yelling in the streets and marketplaces, or the grinding and creaking of cranes at the port. If you would like to know what music people heard in the churches and palaces of the city, you are welcome to join us at Laus Polyphoniae 2023. The festival entitled ‘Antwerp. Townscape – Soundscape’ promises to be a lively soundtrack that recreates the music of Antwerp’s glory days.

In the late 15th and especially the 16th century, Antwerp experienced unprecedented economic and cultural growth. The city on the Schelde became an international metropolis. Goods from all over the world were traded there by merchant families who amassed immense fortunes. People also played music all over this bustling city, in places ranging from the biggest churches to private homes. The best Kapellmeisters were appointed to compose music for the liturgy. Publishers printed collections of music for lute players who made music at home.

Antwerp was a focal point of the art of book printing. Printers such as Phalesius and Plantijn were renowned for the high quality of their musical publications. Thanks to surviving prints, we can still perform this historical music today. Several of the concerts at ‘Antwerp. Townscape – Soundscape’ are devoted to music prints from the city. We will explore the scores with Huelgas Ensemble, Collegium Vocale Gent, the Portuguese ensemble Cupertinos and the French soprano Perrine Devillers. Utopia, from Belgium, devotes its attention to motet images: unique prints of magnificent engravings that also include music. Music commissioned from young composers provides contemporary counterparts for the historical motets.

Johannes Ockeghem, Jacobus Barbireau, Jacob Obrecht, Andreas Pevernage, Cornelius Verdonck and Peter Philips are all masters of polyphony who can be linked to the city of Antwerp. Their music will be performed by the best international ensembles, including Blue Heron, Cappella Pratensis & I Fedeli, Le Miroir de Musique and Stile Antico. The Belgian ensemble graindelavoix presents a dual programme focusing on the high point and swan song of polyphony in Antwerp, in De wonderjaren and De hongerjaren (The Wonder Years and The Hunger Years).
‘Antwerp. Townscape – Soundscape’ will be more than a festival of vocal music: it will be an instrumental event as well. The Antwerp Songbook is given a mischievous, up-to-date reinterpretation in the hands of the music theatre collective Les mes Perdues. Paul O’Dette, Chordophony, Zefiro Torna and Jean Rondeau perform the most beautiful works for the lute and virginal. Keyboard player Mario Sarecchia and historian Michael Pye, the successful author of Antwerp: The Glory Years, team up for a musical tale about the music scene in 16th century Antwerp. You will see young talent at work during IYAP, and if you want to learn more about Antwerp’s musical history yourself, you are welcome to attend the customary array of fascinating lectures and courses. The centre of the festival is AMUZ, but you will also be able to discover other wonderful venues such as the Museum Plantin-Moretus and the churches of St. Charles Borromeo, St. James and St. Paul.
A warm welcome to Antwerp!

The program: concerts

Huelgas Ensemble: Music at Antwerp Cathedral

18 August 2023 20:00

Cappella Pratensis & I Fedeli: Obrecht & Barbireau

19 August 2023 20:00

Blue Heron: Ockeghem

19 August 2023 22:15

Utopia: Miroirs

20 August 2023 20:00

Blue Heron: Pevernage & friends

21 August 2023 13:00

Stile Antico: Rimonte & Philips

21 August 2023 20:00

Paul O’Dette: lute music

22 August 2023 13:00

graindelavoix: The Wonder Years

22 August 2023 20:00

graindelavoix: The Hunger Years

22 August 2023 22:15

Le Miroir de Musique: Verdonck

23 August 2023 20:00

Huelgas Ensemble: Antwerp’s Printers

23 August 2023 22:15

Comet Musicke: Lohoys & Hobreau

24 August 2023 13:00

Sollazzo Ensemble: Pullois

24 August 2023 20:00

Zefiro Torna: Unity in diversity

24 August 2023 22:15

Perrine Devillers & Ariel Abramovich: songs with a lute accompaniment

25 August 2023 13:00

Cupertinos: Duarte Lobo

25 August 2023 20:00

Jean Rondeau: Antwerp’s Composers for the Virginal

25 August 2023 22:15

Cappella Mariana & L’Achéron: Luython

26 August 2023 20:00

Chordophony: The Lute Virtuosi of Antwerp

26 August 2023 22:15

Summer School Closing Concert

27 August 2023 11:00

Les Âmes Perdues: the Antwerp Songbook

27 August 2023 15:00

Collegium Vocale Gent: Solo e pensoso

27 August 2023 20:00

The program: lectures

Lecture by Jennifer Bloxam: Obrecht

19 August 2023 18:45

Michael Pye & Mario Sarrechia Antwerp: Music in the Glory Years

20 August 2023 22:15

Michael Pye & Mario Sarrechia Antwerp: Music in the Glory Years

21 August 2023 22:15

Michael Pye & Mario Sarrechia Antwerp: Music in the Glory Years

22 August 2023 22:15

Lecture by Wendy Wauters :The Smells of the Cathedral

23 August 2023 13:00

Lecture by Antonio Chemotti: Music Prints by Phalesius

27 August 2023 18:45

The program: family performances

TeaterBLIK: Aftryk

26 August 2023 10:00

TeaterBLIK: Aftryk

26 August 2023 15:00

TeaterBLIK: Aftryk

27 August 2023 10:00

TeaterBLIK: Aftryk

27 August 2023 15:00
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