The second edition of AlbaNova continued the momentum of the previous year, as a one-day festival where early and contemporary music play alongside each other and intermingle, with considerable emphasis on participation and interaction between the artists and audience. The theme of the festival highlighted these aspects particularly clearly. Under the name EDEN, which referred to the annual mediaeval gatherings of musicians from all over Europe in cities in the Low Countries, viol and vielle player Thomas Baeté brought together a collective of musicians from diverse backgrounds.
They performed a greatly appreciated opening concert with a sample of what the audience could expect later in the day: a wide range of voices and languages, musical encounters and ever-changing combinations of musicians. One by one, the singers appeared from different corners of the church, singing and playing, coming together in a sonorous, contemporary ‘école du nord’. After this concert, the musicians spread out across the site in smaller formations: duos and trios performing historical music, music from oral traditions and new creations at various locations in Alden Biesen.
Olalla Alemán & Jan Van Outryve – Santa Teresa de Jesús
Soprano Olalla Aleman and lute player Jan Van Outryve evoked the visions of the mystic Saint Teresa, a celestial Scheherazade from the Golden Age of Spain.
Katherine Hill & Emre Gültekin – a dialogue in Swedish and Turkish
Love songs from two far-flung corners of Europe found each other in singing voices and buzzing strings.
Osuna – Along the Silk Road
Balkan rhythms, Scandinavian ballads, ancient estampies and Tuvan throat singing are just a few of the elements that come together in the concert by Osuna.
Claire Lefilliâtre & Vincent Dumestre – Vanitas Vanitatum
French stars Claire Lefilliâtre & Vincent Dumestre took on the vanitas theme that was so popular in the seventeenth century.
The Shuffle Season
Who dares combine Georges Brassens, Sigismondo d’India, Woody Guthrie and Henry Purcell … The Shuffle Season!
The beautiful weather helpt to create a vibrant, relaxed festival atmosphere for the numerous open-air concerts, children’s workshops and a monumental PVC installation. The family atmosphere was also a tangible part of performances and acts that attracted people of every age, such as the particularly popular performance by sand artist Colette Dedyn with music by the Griff Trio.
Once again, AlbaNova presented great creativity and original perspectives. Thomas Smetryns performed a highly concentrated, hushed concert with his Helmholtz Kwartet, on tuning forks, electronics, violin and cello. Eric Sleichim and Marnix De Cat searched for shared ground between Renaissance polyphony and the contemporary instruments bass saxophone and electronics: a quest that was clearly still in its infancy. Viol player Romina Lischka and cellist Benjamin Glorieux, in turn, played deeply personal music in the Tiendschuur. Romina performed an acoustic set bridging the gap between jazz and classical music with an unusual combination of viol, double bass and bugle. Benjamin used his cello and a loop station to create a noise-like texture that gradually revealed the contours of a Renaissance piece by Jacobus Vaet, like a genie from a lamp.
Tongeren Music Academy, led by Johan Bossers, also turned heads with two highly unorthodox versions of Thomas Tallis’ monumental ‘Spem in Alium’ performed in the Erekoer. The press and public reacted with amazement and praise. In De Standaard, Annemarie Peeters described the concert as follows: “The absolute revelation of the day was a performance by Tongeren Music Academy. (…) Instrumental groups and singers took each other on from every corner of the Erekoer. Tallis’ notes flowed into rustling sound experiments with sharp accents, now and then a well-aimed crack of the whip and genuine jazz solos. A group of brass players blazed out from the open windows on the upper floor. The public reacted with wonder, astonishment and enthusiasm.”
Other refreshing combinations came from Hendrik Vanden Abeele and Pieter Stas, who gave an interested and attentive audience a concise, active introduction to the origins of polyphony. After treating the audience to an active speed-dating session with the Tsgrooten antiphon at the first edition of AlbaNova, Hendrik Vanden Abeele once again tested the borders of a format somewhere between a ‘lecture-performance’ and participatory concert.
Last but not least was the exciting project by musician and sound artist Michaël Liberg. AlbaNova had commissioned him to create a soundscape of the festival with the help of ‘sound reporters’ in the audience that began at the start of the opening concert and gradually grew into a collective composition. The audience could peep over his shoulder in a pop-up sound workshop, watching how he gradually built up a soundscape of the festival. The result can be heard in the Klankatlas.
Thus AlbaNova – EDEN achieved its aim of crossing the borders between historic and contemporary music, as a report by Deutschlandfunk put it. The festival has proved that it is capable of giving new impetus to the world of old and new music in a short time, activating the audience beyond the customary codes of a classical concert and creating opportunities for young talent.
Relive the festival in the compilation film below.