Singing Brussels peachy follow up!  

Lots of shivers during two hours, amazing voices and great English humour. The internationally acclaimed British a cappella ensemble Voces8, a yearly delight of The Bozar Singing Brussels festival in May, was joined this autumn by BEvocaL, the Belgian National Youth Choir to produce a gorgeous concert. They appeared on the great Henry Le Bœuf stage in Bozar on Wednesday 2nd October 2019, welcomed by crowds of happy fans. They offered a wonderful programme of18 music pieces ranging from the Renaissance up to nowadays. Mixing such different choirs on the stage can  be a challenge, but the performance was artistically and technically brilliant. 

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But Vocal Music is such an enthralling way to connect to each other: you just contemplate the musical unison from your seat and you feel part of it! You delve in the lyrics and you hit spirituality. Voces8 started their concert with a  very uplifting first piece, Regina Coeli (1576). They displayed their haunting crystal vocals immediately. Such fine voices provoke orphic pleasure and soul peace. Then the surprise came when BEvocal started singing Camille Saint-Saens Ave Verum (1860) whilst collecting their profound musical energy in a magical circle, their backs turned to the audience.

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Bridging the gap betweel Music and Theatre, The Belgian National Youth Choir is used to moving around on stages and also within the audience to perform their embracing and amazing singing. It gives an extra dynamic dimension to their interpretation and keeps the audience totally focused.  Let my Love be heard (1986) by Jake Runestad was so moving that it was even interrupted by an unidentified vibrant bravo in the audience!

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 Voces8 love Belgium, and we love them! They couldn’t have put it better than with  their farewell song,  the unofficial Scottish anthem Caledonia (2000) composed by Dougie McClean:

Let me tell you that I love you
that I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
now I’m going home
and if I should become a stranger
no, it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had”

They really love Brussels Bozar stage, where they feel at home whenever they come back. They spread the love of music, kindly putting people together, helping discovering young talents, and using vocal music as the wings of international peace. Yes “we can live together” might be their motto! Managing director, and wonderful conductor, Paul Smith is absolutely fascinating when directing the singing crowds during Singing Brussels rehearsals. His gentleness and his inspired musical touch are keys that strike instant togetherness and human tuning. What else? The group own creativity, a splendid repertoire, eclectic, open and diverse, and a secret recipe, …for sure! They can even prompt imaginary musical instruments on stage, from cello to flutes and tambourines, …and even the sound of Belgian rain!

BEvocal? They call themselves AMBASSADORs of Belgian choirs. They are right, being a true and creative collaboration between the three language communities of the country. Top young selected singers from 18 to 30 from all over Belgium, gather regularly around an artistic concept elaborated by their dynamic, renowned international conductor and vocal coach, Maria Van Nieukerken.  During a summer week and four weekends each year, they work on the repertoire and vocal training of the singers. The result on Bozar stage was simply breathtaking, and of course their flawless and smooth interaction with Voces8!

Dominique-Hélène Lemaire (Arts et Lettres)