Published on September 19th, 2018 | by James Drew


Ars Musica: Biennale of contemporary music

An ‘unheard-of’ edition – some highlights

After minimalism in 2014, Japan in 2016, the 2018 edition of the Ars Musica festival will open its doors to the unexpected, the ‘unheard’; a world of sound available for discovery during 63 concerts between the 9th of November and 2nd of December, on 23 locations in Brussels and elsewhere. Redesigning musical cartography, the experimenters have pushed the boundaries of possibility to allow new works to tickle the ear and be heard, writes Martin Banks.

During three weeks, the festival’s programme will offer new sound perceptions: a subaquatic concert by Michel Redolfi (Sonic Waters, on NOV 25th at Bains de Bruxelles),

Eerie Musical Instruments by Jean-François Laporte (at Brigittines on NOV 17th), the historical instruments by Luigi Russolo (at Le Senghor, on NOV 29th), and Maurice Martenot (at Brigittines on NOV 17th), The Whisper Opera by David Lang (from NOV 26th to 28th at Bozar with the ICE ensemble). Ars Musica will also present a graphic novel opera by André Ristic (“Hockey Noir, l’opéra” at the Halles of Schaerbeek, on NOV 2nd), an encounter between written and improvised music proposed by Fred Frith with the Musiques Nouvelles ensemble (at Bozar, on NOV 24th) and even the creation of a concerto for Theremin and Orchestra (at Bozar, on NOV 9th with the Brussels Philarmonic directed by Brad Lubman), the Salon of ‘Unheard-Of’ Instruments (on DEC 1st and 2nd at MIM), the deliberately musical and plastic installation by Jean-Luc Fafchamps and Michel Lorand (from NOV 13th to the 1st of DEC at ERG), The Unheard-Of Marathons (at the Botanique on NOV 10th and at Brigittines on NOV 17th and 18th), as well as theperformances (within the Resistance Night at the Centrale for contemporary art on NOV 23th) – a wide range of save the dates to experience skilled sound experimentations.


For this very special edition, Ars Musica has established deep and strong links with its partners (Bozar, Les Halles de Schaerbeek, Charleroi danse, l’ARBA-ESA, l’ERG, le Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, le Conservatoire Royal de Mons, Le Senghor, l’Alliance Française, Les Brigittines, Le Botanique, l’Institut Italien…). These essential associations have allowed us to imagine unique programmes and unprecedented encounters between the audience and the creators.

Master classes

But Ars Musica is also about transmission, which is reflected by the different master classes organised by the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles and the Conservatoire Royal de Mons or the collaboration with MUS-E Belgique and ReMuA, when meeting with schools and academic sectors.

Ars Musica, the biennale of contemporary music

Since 1989, when Ars Musica was founded, the festival has always worked hard on its monitoring role regarding today’s musical creation. From Steve Reich to Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen to Philippe Boesmans, David Lang, Philip Glass, or more alternative aspects represented by musicians like Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Zanési, Arnaud Rebotini, Mark Fell or Biosphère. A Biennale since 2014, the festival’s mission is to offer to the audience a showcase of creativity. Taking place in November, Ars Musica has become topical and explores all kinds of sound territories: written music, improvised music, electronic music, electroacoustic, sound installation, radio creation, hybrid form. Extremely passionate about these different and multiple paths, Ars Musica has established itself as an essential creation casket.

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