Exquisite voices and ancient instruments highlight Bruegel’s paintings

L’image contient peut-être : 4 personnes, personnes souriantes, personnes assises et intérieur

This year is celebrating Bruegel’s 450 years death anniversary. With Jan van Eyck and Paul Rubens, Pieter Bruegel is considered one of the masters of Flemish painting of the sixteenth century.   A member of The Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, Bruegel travelled to Italy and was exposed to humanist culture.  The Guild was named in honour of the Evangelist Luke, the patron saint of artists, who was identified by John of Damascus as having painted the Virgin’s portrait.  In 1563, Bruegel moved to Brussels to be closer to the centre of money, power and potential clients. It was a hub for artists and the new urban nobility. In the same year, he married Mayken Coecke, daughter of Pieter Coecke and Mayken Verhulst, in Brussels’ Notre-Dame de la Chapelle Church, and lived nearby, 132 rue Haute, in the Marolles, where he painted his most famous paintings, absolute masterpieces like Winter Landscape with Ice-skaters and Bird-trap and The Peasant Wedding. This area was a particularly prosperous neighbourhood in the 16th-century and not far from Charles V’s main residence at the Coudenberg Palace at Mont des Arts. The painter was buried in 1569 at the same church Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, the very place where the Concert: « Bruegel the mischievous humanist, a musical  scenery » was held on October 3rd 2019.

L’image contient peut-être : 6 personnes, personnes sur scène, personnes qui jouent des instruments de musique et intérieur

With the collaboration of the KCB, this concert-show was based on the idea of ​​illustrating some of  Bruegel’s paintings projected on a screen with songs and music contemporary to the painter’s. The concert was performed on ancient instruments from the Renaissance, bringing together the ensemble Sonadori, mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Colson and organist Fabien Moulaert, under the direction of Alain Gervaux, in a  co-production of Voce et Organo – the research department of the Koniklijk Conservatorium Brussel – and Les Sonadori. A detailed programme explained every piece of music paralleled with Bruegel’s selected painting or with telltaling artefacts from his time.

L’image contient peut-être : 3 personnes, personnes sur scène et intérieur

When they started their concert with a procession, it was as if we were projected in olden times, at the time of the troubadours, banquets, and village dances.   Their rich repertoire and haunting sound suddenly came to life in the dark silence of the Church, to charm an audience immediately under the spell. Various themes were sung, played and exposed: love, lust, madness, war and death, and religious psalms.   We heard Spa Blue Natural singing voices with ancient dynamic instruments calling up the centuries-old sceneries depicted by Bruegel. They all contributed to focus on the concept of humanity at its best when singing, playing and painting has become a sensuous blessing. When the vibration of music matches the vibrant colours and vivid humour of Bruegel,  a  ruthless Renaissance critical observer of the World.  When art becomes a driving force and gives a sense of timelessness, a sense of belonging. When music becomes the love link between people and when paintings embody beauty and human fears.  

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     Once the concert is over, by day-time, if you visit that church, you might also like to chase “escaped “ spirits, from various Bruegel’s paintings, hidden everywhere in the church to celebrate the divine painter’s life and work.  Indeed, various figures from the paintings of the Flemish master have escaped from the paintings. For the first time ever, they have left the frame of their two-dimensional world, to turn into real figures. They are coming together to pay tribute to the man who painted them and titillate the visitors’ imagination. These images will remain there until the end of 2019.

°°Programme°°
Works of Clemens non Papa, Lupus Episcopius, Gerardus Turnhout, Mattheus Pipelare, Johannes Ghiselin, Jheronimus Venders, Tielman Susato, Pierre Phalèse, Josquin Bason, Francisco Correa de Arauxo, Paul Hofhaimer, Marco Antonio Cavazzoni
and some anonymous.

°°Ensemble les Sonadori, with 6 Renaissance violins
from bass to falsetto°°
–Alain GERVREAU, tenor violin and conducting
–Béatrice LINON, soprano and falsetto violin
–Odile EDOUARD, viola and soprano violin
-Nicolas SANSARLAT, contra-viola
–Lorraine BROSSE, basetto violin
–Hervé DOUCHY, viola da gamba

°°Invited°°
–Pascale BOQUET, lute
–Elisabeth COLSON, mezzo-soprano
–Fabien MOULAERT, organ

L’image contient peut-être : 8 personnes, intérieur

Also worth visiting:  the « Beyond Bruegel » expo that pays tribute to the artist in the majestic Dynasty Palace, off the KBR, the Belgian National Library, at Mont des Arts.

The innovative art experience in the Dynasty Palace showcases immersive projections that magnify  Bruegel’s works and highlight exquisite details. As a visitor, you can empathize with the painter’s style and oeuvre in various spaces. You will then marvel at the eye-catching 360-degree that displays the world of Bruegel, both down-to-earth and imaginary. You walk, as it were, amidst the army-sized number of the character Dulle Griet (Mad Meg). Bobbing along on the ship at the foot of the Tower of Babel, come and meet the unique characters that emerged from the artist’s overactive imagination and still titillate ours. The show provides interesting comments in English, French and Dutch. The real paintings are a couple of blocks away: just hop to the Museum next doorThere is also a mouthwatering experience awaiting Bruegel’s fans who visit Beyond Bueugel expo,  with  Plein Publiek,  a creative cuisine concept related to the exhibit and designed by highly talented ex top-Chef Paul Delrez.

Dominique-Hélène Lemaire (Arts et Lettres)

L’article en français est ici

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Useful Addresses:  

–  « Beyond Bruegel » in the « Palais de la Dynastie » at Le Mont des Arts in Brussels.
April 6th 2019 – January 31st 2020 www.beyondbruegel.be 

–   ROYAL MUSEUMS OF FINE ARTS OF BELGIUM 
MUSÉE OLD MASTERS MUSEUM
Rue de la Régence / Regentschapsstraat 3
1000 Brussels