Brussels celebrates classical music as the annual Klarafestival kicks off
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    Brussels celebrates classical music as the annual Klarafestival kicks off

    Musicians from across Belgium and the globe are coming together this month to stage a series of concerts celebrating the annual Klarafestival. The festival, which is supported by the Brussels Capital Region, signifies the city’s appreciation of the importance of classical music as a key part in its role as a cultural hub in Europe.

    Now in its 14th year, Klarafestival promises to be one of the biggest music extravaganza held in Belgium and this year the emphasis will be on relocation, musical roots, exile and identity, affecting lives and works of composers and musicians.

    An orchestra made up entirely of Syrian refugees will join forces with the National Orchestra of Belgium to perform at BOZAR in Brussels on March 21st, the eve before the first anniversary of the Brussels terrorist bombings. Other concerts will take place until March 24 in venues such as Concertgebouw in Bruges, deSingel in Antwerp, and the Flagey and Bronks theatres in Brussels.

    As well as the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, there will be performances by Taiwan Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Zehetmair Quartett, René Jacobs and B’Rock Orchestra, Magdalena Kožená and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Marockin’ Brass, Muziektheater Transparant and many more.

    Those who can’t manage to get tickets can listen in too as there are to be broadcasts throughout Belgian radio stations as well as performances being aired on the European Broadcasting Union network.

    Klarafestival organisers promise to include every aspect of musical life during the busy programme including high quality original concepts in opera, musical theatre and multidisciplinary performances.

    Alexander Jocqué, Dramaturge of Klarafestival said that this year will be especially symbolic one year after Belgium’s worst terrorist attacks in history. ‘Our message will be solidarity and building bridges’ he said.

    A concert at Brussels’ BOZAR on March 19th entitled ‘From The New World’, will feature Prokofiev’s Second Violon Concerto, performed by world-renowned Taiwanese violinist Ray Chen. The Taiwan Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Shao-Chia Lü, will also perform the Ninth Symphony by Antonín Dvořák, which was inspired by the composers’ reflections on his time in America. The concert starts at 19.00 and tickets for the concert range from 16 Euros to 60.

    Staying with the American theme, BOZAR will also be the venue for the curtain closer for this year’s festival. The finale, on March 24 entitled ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, will feature music by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein and Sergei Rachmaninov.

    It will be performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yannik Nézet-Séguin featuring concert pianist, Khatia Buniatishvili. The night will be peppered with ‘full brass, rich harmonies, swinging rhythms and grand melodies,’ the organisers told The Brussels Times. The concert starts at 20.00 and ticket prices range from 18 to 74 Euros.

    Full details and schedules of the concerts can be obtained on the Klarafestival website: www.klarafestival.be

    Kim Clayton
    The Brussels Times