Unity in Diversity #2

The second edition of the European lute song project Unity in Diversity starts at the end of April. Lutenist Jurgen De bruyn and mandolin virtuoso Alon Sariel will be joined by singers Lore Binon and Elly Aerden, by Vittoria Pagani on the Indian Sarod and by the ney and lavta player Christos Barbas. The creation takes place during LUNALIA, Festival of Flanders Mechelen, and is part of the Mechelen city festival Construct Europe, which coincides with the Belgian presidency of the EU Council. The premiere will be followed by concerts in Hasselt and Dilbeek.

To tune in, you can listen to the podcast made by Evita Nossent, in which the musicians talk about their experiences during the first residency at Laus Polyphoniae Antwerp. They testify about their personal music practice and how they set themselves up for new encounters.

In the words of Alon: “...what we present on stage is the wishful thinking of what could be in Europe in the future, if the European dream actually works”.



The Mass Man at O. Festival

On 17 May, The Mass Man, a collaboration between Zefiro Torna and Muziektheater Transparant, will be a guest at the O. Festival in Rotterdam.

Director Wouter Van Looy, video artist Wim Catrysse and writer Peter Verhelst base the performance on Elias Canetti's book 'Mass and Power'. The Nobel laureate describes his experiences of mass movements in the early 20th century and mixes them with impressive sociological and anthropological insights. The book not only reads like a reflection on the past, it is also a guide for today.

Soloist singer/performers, instrumentalists on lute, cornetto, trumpet and drums, a sound installation artist and electronic soundscapes give new form and expression to a wide range of subgenres of medieval crusader song. They deliver a nuanced picture of a complex time and turning point in history, marked by changing identities and worldviews.




L’ALQUIMISTA in Barcelona

Next week we will begin the rehearsals for music theater performance L'ALQUIMISTA in Barcelona, at the Teatro Nacional de Catalunya. Michael De Cock created and directs a theatre adaptation of the book The Abyss by Belgian writer Marguerite Yourcenar. Lutenist Jurgen De bruyn joins the stage and, together with composer Alain Franco, provides the soundtrack for the story, which is set in 16th-century Europe with a focus on the last years of the Bruges doctor and alchemist Zeno and on universal themes of humanity and freedom in turbulent times.

The premiere will take place on the 11th of May 2023. The tickets are on sale vie TNC.


Release documentary PAST >| ORALE

As an introduction to the performance PAST >I ORALE Zefiro Torna asked film maker Mathias Ruelle to create a short documentary. Through the eyes of five characters, this film highlights a few elementary parts from which the performance originated. The music of PAST >I ORALE - a wonderful mix of Beethoven, sound art and alternative pop - resonates as a soundtrack.

> Watch the documentary here (from June 15th until July 13th)


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BALSAM - music theatre

— A tantalizing herb laboratory (2020)

Zefiro Torna - LAIKA

Zefiro Torna and theatre 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 theatre 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?

"An unexpected smorgasbord of sensory titillation – ready your eyes, ears, nose and tastebuds for a voyage of discovery!" 08.09.2021,

"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 Shelter

16.06.2020 16:30

14.06.2021 15:00

17.08.2021 11:00

31.08.2021 12:00