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What’s on this week: 31 January to 6 February

13:41 30/01/2020
Our top picks of events and activities in and around Brussels

Bozar’s Bach Heritage Festival puts the work of the 18th-century composer in a contemporary light. There are some wonderfully unique concerts here, such as Partita for Violin No 2 on mandolin and Free Bach, in which a baroque ensemble and a theatre collective mix flamenco, electronica and poetry to create a highly vivid Peasant Cantata. 6-9 February, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

Munnelly & McGowan deliver high-energy Irish folk, with the former’s virtuoso accordion playing blending effortlessly with the latter’s guitar. An offshoot of the David Munnelly Band, they have new compositions as a duo and are showing them off at Muziekpublique. 31 January, Molière Theatre, Square du Bastion 3 (Ixelles)

The Brussels Shakespeare Society presents Much Ado About Nothing, the story of the madcap proceedings surrounding prince Don Pedro’s stay with governor Leonato. Entourages on both sides include the evil Don John, the bickering Beatrice and Benedick, the lovesick Claudio and Hero, possible Shakespeare’s most forgiving heroine. 3-8 February, Espace Scarabaeus, Rue Creuse 19 (Schaerbeek)

Thao Nguyen Phan

Pop over to Wiels for the opening reception of two new shows accompanied by a food truck and DJ sets. Thao Nguyen Phan’s Monsoon Melody is the Vietnamese artist’s largest show to date, mixing work from her last three projects with videos to explore the political, social and agricultural contexts of rural Vietnam. Wolfgang Tillmans’s Today is the First Day, meanwhile, mixes sound and video with some 30 years of works by the German photographer who questions the perceptions of what we see. The day after the opening, Phan will talk about her work with the curator in English. On 5 February, a guided tour of Tillmans’s work will be done in German. 31 January 18.00-22.00, Wiels, Avenue Van Volxem 354

It’s an XL edition of Flagey Piano Days in celebration of the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. The spirit of the inimitable composer will be present in every concert in the festival this year, whether it’s strictly his music or compositions inspired by his oeuvre. Check out the series of every one of his Cello Sonatas or Piano Concertos or dive into improvisations by the great Belgian pianist Walter Hus, who will mix his own compositions up with those of the German master. 7-16 February, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix (Ixelles)

Much like The Handmaid’s Tale, American author Jesse Ball’s new novel, The Diver’s Game, is a dystopian reflection on power and control that seems entirely too close to home. He talks about his eighth book (others include Samedi the Deafness and A Cure for Suicide) with radio host Ruth Joos at Passa Porta. (In English) 5 February 20.00, Rue Antoine Dansaert 46

Mercedes Dassy

Dance from one end of the capital to the other for Brussels, Dance!, a festival that goes on for more than two months. Belgium punches above its weight when it comes to contemporary dance, and this puts Brussels-based choreographers in the spotlight. Check out the provocative Mercedes Dassy (pictured); Franck Edmond Yao’s Nana, based on the character made famous by Émile Zola; or Alexandra Bachzetsis in a piece that explores gender stereotypes with vogueing, drag, striptease and … YouTube. 1 February to 4 April, across Brussels

Enjoy the hilarious stage production Work by Brussels expat Claudio Stallato, in which fantastical construction workers hammer and saw their way into absurd situations. There is no dialogue, and it’s good for ages 7+. Tickets are going fast. 5-7 February, Les Halles, Rue Royale Sainte-Marie 22 (Schaerbeek)

Hear singers from a multitude of Brussels choirs at the Candlemas charity concert at Holy Trinity, known throughout the expat community for its services in English. This concert is in English, too: Handel’s Messiah is an oratorio first performed in Dublin in 1742. Proceeds from the concert go to Les Projets d’Eléonore, which supports sick children and their families. 1 February 16.00 Rue Capitaine Crespel 29 (Ixelles)

May the Road Rise Up

There are a couple of events at Bozar celebrating St Brigid’s Day, the traditional Gaelic holiday that marks the beginning of spring. On 4 February, the Embassy of Ireland is hosting St Brigid’s Day: Celebrating the Creativity of Women, a networking reception and panel discussion on female entrepreneurship. On 6 February, Northern Irish theatre troupe c21 presents May the Road Rise Up, a fast-paced one-woman show in which Belfast native Mia demonstrates the finer points of homelessness. Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23


The Chamber Music Hall of the Concertgebouw in Bruges was designed in such a way that all spectators have a front-row seat. So it’s the perfect spot for the new Têtes-à-têtes, an intimate chamber music festival featuring nearly 60 national and international artists playing classical, pop, world and electronic music. After each concert, a pop-up sky bar will be open so you can both mingle with the artists and get a beautiful view of Bruges. 1-28 February, Concertgebouw, ’t Zand 34, Bruges

Photos, from top: Courtesy Bozar; courtesy Thao Nguyen Phan & Wiels; courtesy c21 Theatre Company; ©Caroline Mathieu

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Richard Harris