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Namur Concert Hall: Ambitious programme encompasses classical, world, jazz and family music
For its second season, Namur Concert Hall aspires to attract a wider audience with 49 concerts programmed for 2023-24.
After an inaugural season centred around the opening of the prestigious musical pole Grand Manège, the aim is to offer unusual and offbeat repertoires as well as familiar classics.
The new 750-seat concert hall boasts excellent acoustics and has already hosted at least 12 musical recordings. Managed by the Centre of vocal art and ancient music (CAV&MA), it propels the Walloon city onto the international musical stage, welcoming the best orchestras and ensembles from around the world.
Director Jean-Marie Marchal recognises that the musical complex, axed around acoustic classical musical, needs to boost its attendance. But he remains optimistic that the upcoming season will widen audience’s horizons and introduce them to a range of virtuoso musical artists.
It opens on 19 September with the international Baroque music orchestra Clematis Ensemble performing works by Dietrich Buxtehude and Andreas Hammerschmidt that are inspired by the erotic texts of Cantique des Cantiques.
Soprano Sandrine Piau incarnates some of Handel’s tragic heroines and enchanting magicians on 28 September, joined by Ensemble Les Paladins under the direction of Jérôme Correas.
The Grand Manège is home to Namur Chamber Choir, the world-renowned ensemble directed by Argentinian conductor Leonardo García Alarcón (pictured). On 4 October, it performs the majestic Mozart’s Requiem with Orchestre du Concert de la Loge under the direction of Julien Chauvin. Top flight soloists join them for the special evening.
Musical magician Alarcón returns with a concert dedicated to the remarkable Namur Renaissance composer Jacques Arcadelt on 6 October. It’s accompanied by the release of a second disc of motets and madrigals written by Arcadelt. The Namur Chamber Choir, with soprano Mariana Flores among the soloists, shares the stage with the Capella Mediterranea.
Another major event for the autumn, is a series of concerts plus an exhibition around the discovery of the Antiphonaire of Salzinnes, a mid-sixteenth century choir manuscript, containing the liturgical text and music for the Divine Office. Originating from the former Abbey of Salzinnes in Namur, it found its way to Canada in the 19th century and returns to the Walloon capital for this special occasion. The Psallentes Choir performs different parts of the work, including Gregorian chants and a new contemporary composition by American Linda Catlin Smith at the concert hall (8 October), the nearby Malonne Abbey (1 December) and Eglise Saint-Joseph (4 February), all directed by Henrik Vanden Abeele.
Recalling the Grand Manège’s former identity military as a military cavalry barracks, the Musique Royale des Guides presents a lively programme of film music that should appeal to all ages on 18 October.
Alternative sounds to classical and early music include three brilliant international trumpet players, Paolo Fresu, Airelle Besson and Stéphane Belmondo, performing with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra on 21 October. Meanwhile, Ensemble Chimera promises an evening of Buenos Aires Madrigal, taking the audience on a musical journey from Venice to the Argentinian capital on 20 December.
The East and West come together on 15 November with a programme including Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun, Saint-Saëns’ piano concerto ‘L’Egyptien’ Orient et Occident and Ravel’s sublime Bolero, all courtesy of the Orchestre National de Metz Grand Est. The French symphony orchestra also returns on 19 March with a film concert devoted to Harry Potter (in collaboration with the comedy festival Namur is a Joke).
In a rare appearance, the biennial Europalia festival – focusing on the country of Georgia - travels to Namur on 16 November with the Basiani Ensemble performing various forms of polyphony, from folklore songs and ballads to monastic chants.
The 2023 season continues with sacred music with Mozart’s beautiful Laudate Dominum, alongside works by Schubert, Haydn, all performed by the Namur Chamber Choir and the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie on 8 December.
In 2024, the programme explores composers such as Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, Bach, Verdi and Schubert, among other lesser-known names.
Throughout the year, the concert hall stages lunchtime concerts as well as a series for families. The latter, Natines, presents a variety of sonorities for little ones, from Arvo Pärt and La Fontaine’s Fables, by companies specialised in concerts for children.
Namur Concert Hall
Rue Rogier 82
Photos: Leonardo García Alarcón ©Bouchra Jarrar; Natines concert ©Josefien Tondeleir; ©Basiani Ensemble