Fall 2020: Balsam and two premieres

We are all in need of cultural activities after the past months. It's something we noticed from the many moved reactions after playing Balsam at the Zomer van Antwerpen in July. The press has repeatedly called the performance "a balm for the soul." This autumn we bring you extra oxygen for the soul with the reprise of Balsam in Rotterdam and Heerlen.

On October 14, Zefiro Torna and the contemporary French Ensemble Variances will unite music from the 14th to the 21st centuries during the premiere of BACHC®AB in deSingel. And a month later we'll launch you 'im glückliche Fahrt' into a new time and space with the long-awaited premiere of PAST | ORALE: BTHVN transhumanized during the Lunalia festival. Looking forward to this special reunion!


Zefiro strikes back

The word is out! After a few exciting weeks we can announce that BALSAM, the mysterious laboratory with Laika, will be premiered at Zomer van Antwerpen. We'll play 36 times between 1 and 26 July, but as tickets are limited, be sure to buy your tickets on time.

In August we will be back on stage with SLUIMER - together with Lore Binon and Benjamin Glorieux - during the Music Mondays in Ninove and the Bijloke Zomerbar.

We'll kick off this special summer on 21 June with Klara on Tour. Follow our performance with soprano Annelies Van Gramberen at 2 pm, broadcasted live from Amuz via Klara.


Zefiro Torna's antidote

Like many other artists and ensembles, Zefiro Torna had to cancel upcoming concerts due to the corona crisis. It's a pity, but the health of everyone around us comes first.

In the meantime, we continue to work on future projects from our attic, living room or improvised office. Every week, we'll provide a musical antidote, starting with this playlist on Spotify:

Stay healthy and creative!


A lab of senses

In January 2020, Zefiro Torna will reshape the production of Balsam into a music theater performance that stimulates all the senses. To this end, the ensemble works together with theater company Laika - Theater der Zinnen. Balsam becomes a visual and physically stimulating laboratory in which the live music merges with surprising scents and flavors. While the music is simmering and enchanting, the spectators witness all kinds of experiments and chemical processes: oil solidifies dropwise into edible pearls, milk becomes electric, charcoal a sweet treat. Balms, powders, drinks and amuse gueules in all scents, colors and flavors are presented and shared by the performers with those sitting next to you, premiered on January 31, 2020 in Le Channel (Calais, FR) and then on tour in France, The Netherlands and Belgium.



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Balsam - music theatre

— A lab of senses (2020)

Zefiro Torna - LAIKA

Zefiro Torna and theater company Laika created the musical and sensory performance BALSAM. An alchemical concert. A stimulating laboratory in which the live music merges with surprising smells, flavors, visual and physical experiences.

First there was the music. A collection of vocal and instrumental compositions with titles such as “Alchemilla”, “Artemisia absinthium” and “Les Roses de Saadi”. Titles that refer to the healing, stimulating and enchanting effect of herbs and plants. The lyrics of the songs go back to verses from the Biblical Song of Songs, to poems by Vergilius and Horatius and to the poetry of contemporaries of Baudelaire and Verhaeren. About the game of love, about desire and sorrow, about the sweet scent of jasmine or the beauty of a tree. Above all, they sing about nature, which is overwhelming and incomprehensible. The music is an adaptation of traditional songs from Portugal, Greece and Iceland, of the mystical sounds of Hildegard Von Bingen and of 15th century polyphonic music, supplemented with own compositions. It is music that makes you dream, that is spiritual and sensual, earthy and heavenly at the same time - as an ode to life and its mystery.

This music is the backbone of the performance. It inspired theater makers Peter De Bie and Sara Sampelayo to create an alchemical laboratory. The spectators sit around the musicians in a pentagram. This placing goes back to the ancient form that refers to the idea of the quintessence or five elements. A form well known to alchemists, who believed that the fifth element can only be known through a lifelong search - hence their experiments to find the “ultimate gold.” While the music resounds, the audience witnesses all kinds of experiments in which ingredients are converted into something else through alchemical processes of distillation, fermentation, solution and so on. Liquid becomes solid; wet becomes dry; cold becomes hot, and vice versa. Oil solidifies drop by drop into edible pearls, a flower feels electrically charged, charcoal a sweet treat…

The result of this visual spectacle is a sensuous experience of balms, powders, drinks and amuse gueules in all kinds of scents, colors and flavors. They are presented to the public by the performers and shared with the person sitting next to you. Conviviality as comfort, because the question remains: will the “ultimate gold” ever be found?

This sensory experience filled us with so much warmth. The combination of the music, the setting, the sober costumes and tastings worked wonderfully together. It seemed like an alchemical laboratory from the Middle Ages that had been transposed to the future. And something that looked like dandelions has stimulated my tongue in a whole new way! Reaction after the premiere on 31.1.2020, Calais

Zefiro Torna

  • Elly Aerden vocals, chatkan
  • Philippe Laloy flutes, soprano saxophone, compositions
  • Jowan Merckx recorders, French bagpipes, flugelhorn, percussion, ukelele, compositions
  • Raphaël De Cock uilleann pipes, bawu, chatkan, kaval, Hardanger fiddle, harmonic flutes, Jew’s harp, duduk, overtone singing, vocals
  • Jean-Philippe Poncin bass clarinet
  • Jurgen De bruyn lute, baroque guitar, chitarrone, vocals, musical direction


  • Peter De Bie sensory concept
  • Peter De Bie, Sara Sampelayo/Simone Milsdochter & Bram Smeyers/Arnout Vandamme alchemists
  • Jo Roets direction
  • Manuela Lauwers costumes
  • Mieke Versyp dramaturgy
  • Pieter De Smet, Rik Van Gysegem, Anton Van Haver & Marlies Jacques technics

Infused by contemporary alchemist and French top chef Alexandre Gauthier

Coproduced with Le Volcan, scène nationale du Havre and Le Channel, scène nationale de Calais & with the support of The Flemish Community and the Federal Belgian Government's Tax Schelter scheme

16.06.2020 16:30