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Organ – Choir – Brass – Strings

Concert programme with organ every Tuesday evening from 16 July to Monday 26 August 2024

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Like every summer, “Ars in Cathedrali” offers its organ festival at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, every Tuesday evening at 8 p.m., from July 16 to August 20 and on Monday evening, August 26.

The programme, curated by the Festival’s artistic directors, Xavier Deprez and Bart Jacobs, the cathedral’s two titular organists, is full of promises and surprises.  

From the English organ concerts of “Mister Händel” to the “Heroic Sounds” of the Belgian brass players who accompany the organ, the program of this festival in 2024 will see successively the organ, tinged with romance,  a mirror and then an orchestra before enthusiastically taking us on a fire dance.

Handel’s Invention – Eighteenth-century English organ concertos Georg Frederick Handel’s organ concertos were extremely popular in the eighteenth century. They were first performed in 1735 during performances of his great oratorios in London concert halls, much to the delight of the audience. The virtuoso organ part was certainly played by “Mr. Handel” himself, who was also an excellent organist. He became the inventor of music for organ and orchestra solo, and also inspired other composers. In this concert you will hear some of these beautiful English organ concertos from the eighteenth century, written by Handel himself and other composers influenced by him. Organist Bart Jacobs and Les Muffatti, known for their interpretations of J.S. Bach’s organ concertos, embark on a new adventure in this light, playful and virtuoso dialogue between organ and baroque orchestra.

Cathedral Choir Hasselt, conducted by Ludo Clasen, Johann Hermans, organ – Spiritual music for choir and organ (Romantic and 21st century). Works by J. Rheinberger, C. V. Stanford, F. Mendelssohn, F. Peeters, L. Claesen.

Choral music and organ are united by a long tradition of music of great beauty and complexity, especially in the romantic repertoire and in the present day. One of the best Belgian choirs, the choir of the cathedral of Hasselt under the direction of Ludo Claesen, will alternate with the organist of the same cathedral and organist of the city of Hasselt, Johan Hermans, who will of course play solo pieces.

Karol Mossakowski (FR) – Mirrors.

Works by J. S. Bach, W. A. Mozart, F. Mendelssohn, R. Schumann

The program of this concert brings together works by Johann Sebastian Bach with composers he has profoundly influenced, from the Classical period to the Romantic period. Between each work, Karol Mossakowski improvises an intermezzo to take us from one sound universe to another using the musical elements of the written works, and to make this concert a sound continuum.

Megumi Tokuoka & Jean-Philippe Merckaert – When the organ becomes an orchestra.

Works by M. Ravel, A. Huybrechts, P. Dukas, A. Nishimura, C. Debussy

Three masterpieces of French music, drawn from the orchestral repertoire and played by 4 hands and 4 feet, dialogue with the scores of the Belgian composer Huybrechts and the Japanese composer Nishimura, less known but very original and daring. It is the duo formed by Megumi Tokuoka, Japanese organist 1st prize at the Schnitger Competition (D), and Jean-Philippe Merckaert, born in Bergen and organist of the Nasunogahara Philharmonic (Tochigi Prefecture) and the Metropolitan Theatre of Tokyo, who will turn the Grenzing organ into a symphony orchestra.

Laurens De Man (NL) – The magic of fire

Works by M. Duruflé, I. Stravinsky, M. de Falla, J. Alain, J. S. Bach

Fire, an ancestral mystery, has always fascinated mankind. In this concert, fire resonates as a positive force, as a threat, as a dance, as a bird, and as a symbol of Pentecostal enthusiasm. This magic of fire is lit by the Dutch organist Laurens De Man, winner of numerous international competitions, and organ teacher at the Utrecht Conservatory.

Monday 26 August: Xavier Deprez, organ & Belgian Brass Socks – Heroïc sounds> Manu Mellaerts & Steven Devolder, trumpet, Jan Smets, trombone, Rik Vercruysse, Hoorn-Cor, Stephan Vanaenrode, tuba. Works by C. Franck, V. Ewald, X. Deprez These five renowned Belgian musicians form the basis of the Belgian Brass Ensemble, which is known worldwide as a leading brass ensemble. Belgian Brass was founded under the influence of the brass instruments of the Belgian Opera and La Monnaie. Since 2003 they have performed on international stages all over the world and are in great demand for masterclasses. Thanks to their symphonic training, their repertoire is naturally extensive, from baroque to pop. With Xavier Deprez on the organ, they play a unique program with original pieces and transcriptions, as well as a world premiere by Xavier Deprez.