While the term refers to pieces composed between 500 and 1600, early music is far from being stuck in the past. In fact, today’s early music scene – spanning medieval, renaissance and baroque genres – is thriving, bringing together a huge number of instruments in harmonious and immersive performances. A number of talented musicians are taking to the stage this year for concerts in York, as well as Bruges and Leuven in Flanders.
The theme of this year’s MAFestival (Musica Antiqua) is inspired by Dante’s La Divina Commedia, a poem narrating the journey from hell to heaven – but the music you’ll hear is purely of the heavenly variety. The festival, held between 4–13 August in 2017, hosts a thought-provoking thematic concert series and ensembles such as Ensemble Correspondances, Vox Clamantis and B’Rock Orchestra. There are also opportunities for upcoming musicians to showcase their talent, with the prestigious International Competitions Musica Antiqua for young baroque soloists and a series of fringe concerts for young and promising ensembles. The festival closes with the infamous musical bike ride, where you can cycle between both landmarks and performers around the city centre.
Park Abbey concerts in Leuven
In October, the magnificent Park Abbey in Leuven, Flanders, will reopen its doors following refurbishment – and to mark the occasion, a number of concerts will take place in the Abbey Church. The Abbey is home to the world-renowned Alamire Foundation, an authority on polyphonic music from the 15th and 16th centuries. The stunning baroque stucco ceilings and stained glass windows are the perfect setting for the foundation’s performances, truly transporting visitors back through time. Park Abbey is perfect for exploring too – wander through the grounds past gorgeous views that include gatehouses, a monastic complex, a parlour and a millhouse.
Laus Polyphoniae in Antwerp
From serenades to hymns, love and music have always gone hand in hand – which is why the theme of Laus Polyphoniae this year is adoration. Held between 18–27 August, the festival in Antwerp explores music that deciphers both religious adoration and worship between lovers. The music is all set to a variety of stunning locations across the city, including AMUZ, a beautiful concert hall that used to be a church, St Pauls Church, and the luxurious Reuben’s House. As well as talented performances, there will also be lectures and educational activities for children, amateurs and advanced musicians.
Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival
The Beverley & East Riding Early Music Festival is set to have a fantastic year, with its 30th anniversary colliding with the year Hull shines as the UK’s City of Culture. From 27 May until 16 July, Beverley – just 15 minutes from the port of Hull – will be filled with some of the world’s finest musicians, including The Tallis Scholars, The Carnival Band and orchestral ensemble La Serenissima. Highlights include workshops for singers, illustrated lectures and concerts for families. This year will also see the Alamire Foundation present a stunning exhibition of Through the Looking Glass by Petrus Alamire, one of the most beautifully illustrated choir books in history.
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Feature image by Gary Ullah
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