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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— A lab of senses (2018)

Zefiro Torna

The production Balsam was developed following the elaborate concert tours and international acclaim of ‘Les Tisserands’ and ‘O, Monde Aveugle!’. The hybrid collective consists of musicians coming from a wide range of musical genres such as ancient, traditional, ethnic and jazz music.

Herbs, flowers and plants with a medicinal effect, whose perfume becomes bottled emotion, that awaken desire, set in motion hallucinogenic transportations or poisonously lead to ruin, have been portrayed in literature, visual arts and music. The compositions from the program Balsam bear names such as les Roses de Saadi or Artemisia absinthium. They resound in the company of traditional songs from Portugal or Greece, Old Norse Edda songs about the Yggdrasil or tree of life, spiritual songs from Hildegard von Bingen and close-knit 15th-century music of Guillaume du Fay. They refer to texts of Virgilius and Horatius, or of the Song of Songs or verses by Charles Baudelaire or Emile Verhaeren.

This recording is a synesthetic homage to music which explores the passion, lust, love, hallucination, and healing induced by herbs and flowers. It is a sensuous quest for the melting point at which very different repertoires and literatures dissolve into an unctuous and euphonious balsam for the mind and the soul. In its own inimitable interdisciplinarity, the Belgian ensemble Zefiro Torna takes us from Norway to Greece, from Virgil to Emile Verhaeren, and from Hildegard von Bingen and Guillaume du Fay to music newly composed in honor of the power of plants. A truly intoxicating experience. Stef Grondelaers

  1. O spectabiles viri - Hildegard von Bingen
  2. La rosée de larmes - Jowan Merckx, lyrics: Publius Virgilius
  3. Sous le noyer - Jowan Merckx
  4. Les roses de Saadi - Philippe Laloy, lyrics: Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
  5. A un lilas - Jowan Merckx, lyrics: François Coppée
  6. Yggdrasil / Fossegangar - Raphaël De Cock, lyrics: trad. Iceland / trad. Norway, Magnus Stinnerbom, arr. Philippe Laloy & Jowan Merckx
  7. Balsamus et munda cera - Guillaume du Fay
  8. Sous le figuier I - Jowan Merckx
  9. Purior in vicis - Jowan Merckx , arr. Jurgen De bruyn, lyrics: Quintius Horatius
  10. Sous le figuier II - Jowan Merckx
  11. Où rien ne bouge - Els Van Laethem, Bert Van Laethem, lyrics: Emile Verhaeren
  12. Le doux désir douloureux - Jowan Merckx, arr. Jowan Merckx, Natacha Simmonds
  13. Meninas vamos à murta - trad. Portugal, arr. Jowan Merckx, lyrics: trad. Portugal
  14. Artemisia absinthium (polska) - Jowan Merckx, arr. Philippe Laloy
  15. To yasemí - trad. Greece
  • 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
  • Jurgen De bruyn lute, baroque guitar, chitarrone, vocals, artistic direction
  • Jean-Philippe Poncin B-flat clarinet, bass clarinet

Recorded at MotorMusic Studios, Mechelen, Belgium on 3, 4, 5 and 6 of July, 2018 by:

  • Steven Maes (for MotorMusic) recording, mixing and mastering
  • Felicia Bockstael musical director and editing
  • Ellen Janssens assistant engineer

Released by Antarctica Records