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Guide to the Brussels Philharmonic

« Denève gave a soaring interpretation; as with the rest of the programme, pacing was thrilling and there was no absence of texture here. Vibrancy in the woodwind balanced with subtle colours from the harp; the second movement saw a poignant solo from concertmaster Henry Raudales, and the waltz theme saw a keen display of colour from the strings, balanced against clean woodwind playing. The final movement seared with energy, the orchestra whipped up by Denève for a raucous finale. »
Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack
October 2018
Evening performance
Matinee performance
Stéphane Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic © Wouter Van Vaerenbergh
Stéphane Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic
© Wouter Van Vaerenbergh
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BrusselsStrauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra

Waksman, Schumann, Strauss R.
Brussels Philharmonic; Stéphane Denève; Victor Julien-Laferrière

BrugesIedereen Klassiek

Waksman, Strauss R., Khachaturian, Strauss II, Williams
Brussels Philharmonic; Stéphane Denève

BrusselsThe Perfect Stranger

Zorn, Campo, Constant, Zappa
Brussels Philharmonic; Brad Lubman; Carolina Eyck; Pierre Charial
The Brussels Philharmonic was founded in 1935 by the Belgian public broadcaster (NIR/INR). Over the years, the orchestra has performed with many top conductors and soloists. It enjoys an excellent reputation for performing premieres of new works and has collaborated with world-renowned composers such as Bartók, Stravinsky, Messiaen and Francesconi. The orchestra’s historic home port is the Flagey building, where it rehearses and performs in Studio 4 – in acoustic terms one of the top concert halls in the world – and which serves as its home base for concerts in Brussels, Flanders and Europe.

As of 2015, Stéphane Denève is the music director of the Brussels Philharmonic. This top French conductor comes to Brussels with a clear mission: he designs his programmes combining 21st century music with the great classics, thereby opening up a dialogue between the repertoire of the past and that of the future. The new platform that Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic are launching will play an important role in this regard: CffOR (Centre for Future Orchestral Repertoire) is seeking to collect core information about symphonic compositions since the year 2000, and thus to initiate a broad international dialogue about compositions that will withstand the test of time. In the words of Stéphane Denève: “The Brussels Philharmonic will perform works that may become the 21st-century repertoire: we are looking for works that orchestras enjoy playing and the audience enjoys listening to. A pioneering project!”

At the international level, the Brussels Philharmonic has made a name for itself, with regular appearances in the major European capitals (including Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg). The appointment of Stéphane Denève and international representation by IMG Touring brings further tours and concerts on new stages both in Europe and beyond (e.g. Japan, USA).

Another speciality for which the Brussels Philharmonic has gained an international reputation is film music. For the performance and recording of soundtracks it regularly partners with Galaxy Studios and Film Fest Gent. International recognition has come, among others, in the form of the Oscar-winning score for ‘The Artist’ (music by Ludovic Bource).

Meanwhile, the orchestra has proven to be a pioneer in other respects as well. Besides its ground-breaking initiatives under way, including a spin-off for the film music and the establishment of a foundation for the purchase of string instruments (with Puilaetco Dewaay Private Bankers), and more recently the Tax Shelter, the orchestra embraces innovation in every area and all levels of its activities. The gentlemen of the orchestra are dressed by Café Costume in the custom designed Symphonic Sporting Jacket, with technical innovations in the field of fabric and cut.

Along with various partners, the Brussels Philharmonic is working on a number of award winning CD series: one with Klara involving Flemish soloists, another with the Palazzetto Bru Zane and conductor Hervé Niquet focused on French Romantic music, and still another with Film Fest Gent devoted to great film music composers. With its own label, Brussels Philharmonic Recordings, the orchestra is issuing reference recordings of the great symphonic repertoire. Deutsche Grammophon has released a recording of 21st century music by Guillaume Connesson under the baton of Stéphane Denève which also has gained international acclaim (among others CHOC Classica de l’année 2016 and Diapason d’Or de l’année 2016).

The Brussels Philharmonic is an institution of the Flemish Community.
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Russian Nights with the Brussels Phil

Stéphane Denève © Drew Farrell
A sadly under-attended concert by Stéphane Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic saw fine technique and a clear appreciation of the final pieces of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev's careers.
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Niquet and the Brussels Philharmonic soar in Franck

Hervé Niquet © Eric Manas
A mixed bag from the Brussels Phil on their UK tour, with César Franck's Symphony proving the highlight. 
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BrusselsFor the Fallen

Boulanger, Holst, Cohan, Elgar, Parry, Debussy, D'Hoe, De Cock, Reger
Brussels Philharmonic; Florian Helgath; Flemish Radio Choir; Hanne Roos

BrugesLa Veuve joyeuse

Lehár: Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow)
Brussels Philharmonic; Hervé Niquet; Flemish Radio Choir; François Pirette

BrusselsLa Veuve joyeuse

Lehár: Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow)
Brussels Philharmonic; Hervé Niquet; Flemish Radio Choir; François Pirette
The Vlaams Radio Koor (Flemish Radio Choir) was founded in 1937 by the Belgian public broadcaster of the day. Today it has become a choir of exceptionally high quality that counts both domestically and internationally among the top ensembles. The 24 professional singers rehearse under the baton of chief conductor Hervé Niquet in Studio 1 of the well-known Flagey building in Brussels, and perform throughout Flanders and Europe.

Hervé Niquet became the choir’s chief conductor in 2011. This internationally celebrated and flamboyant conductor is key to the choir’s success. Niquet, who refers to the choir as a diamond and ranks it among the top three in Europe, works on achieving a recognisable sonority and is planning a wide range of projects, from unknown French romantic music to contemporary premieres.

A first and important pillar of the Vlaams Radio Koor’s programme is the a cappella concert, with which the ensemble tours between four and six times a year throughout Flanders. In addition, the choir regularly works with renowned national and international instrumental ensembles, such as the Brussels Philharmonic, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Les Siècles, Le Concert Spirituel, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

In addition to its close ties to regular partners in Flanders, the Vlaams Radio Koor is increasingly expanding its presence on various international stages. The choir is a particularly welcome guest in France, and receives more and more invitations each year to both festivals and prestigious concert halls such as the Salle Pleyel and the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.

The successful collaboration with the Palazzetto Bru Zane, which took the initiative to launch the critically acclaimed CD series based on works composed for the Prix de Rome, continues. In the meantime, new series have been launched featuring portraits of composers and French opera. With Evil Penguin Records, in a new series of five CDs, conductor Hervé Niquet leads the Vlaams Radio Koor and Brussels Philharmonic in new recordings of iconic Requiems.

The Vlaams Radio Koor also retains its unique status as radio choir: a considerable number of concert productions are recorded, as a result of which the choir has built up a unique collection of live recordings.

The Vlaams Radio Koor is an institution of the Flemish Community. The suits of the gentlemen members of the choir are provided by Café Costume.
Vlaams Radio Koor © Wouter Van Vaerenbergh
Vlaams Radio Koor
© Wouter Van Vaerenbergh