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Namur opens new music complex in former military riding school
Namur’s Grand Manège opened its doors to classical music fans and students last Friday following a major three-year renovation project, costing €20m. The venue hosts two complementary cultural activities, the Centre of vocal art and ancient music (CAV&MA) and the Conservatoire Balthasar-Florence de Namur music school.
Its new 772-seat Namur Concert Hall, equipped with the latest acoustic technology, is due to be officially inaugurated in spring 2022. The modern space is already partly operational to host classical music concerts.
The city-centre site will be managed by CAV&MA and serve as a home for its world-renowned ensembles, including the Namur Chamber Choir and Millenium Orchestra, directed by Argentinian conductor Leonardo García Alarcón and Les Agrémens, directed by Guy Van Waas.
Meanwhile, the city’s music conservatory is already open for its 1,700 students, boasting a 150-seat auditorium, dance studio and music library, as well as 32 classrooms.
At Friday’s opening ceremony, Namur mayor Maxime Prévot said the Grand Manège would serve as a prestigious musical pole at the heart of the city with its concert hall equalling that of the Philharmonic Hall of Liège. “This is an investment in youth and culture for the future,” he added.
CAV&MA director Jean-Marie Marchal said the sound-proofed complex was “exceptional for its excellent acoustics”.
The Grand Manège, dating from 1856, was originally used as a training school for horses and riders. It is one of the remaining vestiges of an extensive military barracks that once dominated the area. Before the current renovation, it operated as a performance space for the nearby Théâtre Royal de Namur.
Photos: © Lino Bennardo and Gabriel Balaguera (rehearsal Namur Concert Hall)