Cultural Compass: Hildegard von Bingen, literary conversation, museum music and more

Exhibitions, music, architecture, books, festivals… this is Belga English's pick of cultural activities in Flanders and Brussels, published every Sunday.

Brussels’ majestic Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral will honour Hildegard von Bingen with three concerts. The writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary and medical practitioner from the High Middle Ages has long been the inspiration for art, books and music. On 24, 25 and 26 May, three different ensembles will perform chants and music by von Bingen which continues to stand the test of time. Ensemble FILIÆ will present their programme O tu suavissima Virga on Friday. Jean-Paul Dessy and Romain Dayez bring Ad Lucem to the cathedral on Saturday and Vocal Ensemble La Noeva offers O Wonderful Flowering on Sunday. Additionally, there will be two lectures and a double exhibition about von Bingen and service on Sunday.

Thursday marks the opening night for the newest dance innovation from Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. MARTENS / DE KEERSMAEKER / BROWN brings the three choreographers together with movement and dance set to 20th-century chamber music. Three generations of choreographers unite their passion and specific style of movement with “virtuosity and minimalism”. All tickets for performances at Theater ’t Eliandje are sold out, but the run continues in Ghent from 6 until 12 June.

©Opera Ballet Vlaanderen

The Villa Empain in Brussels, the Boghossian Foundation and Les Midis de la Poésie will host an evening with author Valérie Cachard and artist and illustrator Lamia Ziadé. Alongside poet Haleh Chinikar, they will explore notions such as language, linguistic existence, the question of displacement and the cities that change us. From Beirut to Paris, a cross-section of lives shaped by socio-linguistic geography will be the topic on 25 May.

Lebanese author Cachard’s oeuvre consists of plays, short stories and texts accompanying artistic projects. Ziadé, also from Lebanon has published several graphic novels with a focus on life in the Middle East. She also creates paintings, sculptures, ceramics, scale models and tapestries. Iranian-born artist and poet Haleh Chinikar has lived in Brussels since 2007. Her artistic practice revolves around installation and performance, which she uses to create experiences involving the public. Her work explores the role of the body and language in the human experience, shaped by inter-generational memories. Please note that the conversation will be held in French.


For those passing through Antwerp, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KMSKA) has works of art and music covered. As the final instalment of Museum Mondays in May, visitors receive 50 per cent off of entry this Monday. Once inside, in addition to admiring the staggering permanent collection, stop by Studio Reubens in the main hall to watch the restoration of Peter Paul Reuben’s massive altarpiece Enthroned Madonna Surrounded by Saints. The work is currently in phase two of six which requires the meticulous work of varnish removal.

As part of the museum’s usual Thursday evening soirée, KMSKA hosts current artist-in-residence Belgian soprano Elise Caluwaerts. Her ongoing music series addresses the presence and position of women in the arts resulting in a four-part concert series about women’s stories and female artists. On 23 May, alongside the Virago Orchestra and conductor Pascale Van Os, she will perform Cabanel’s Cleopatra and Berlioz’s La Mort de Cléopâtre.

Additional cultural coverage from Belga this past week includes: Antwerp Art Weekend kicks off its tenth edition with over 100 activities, Magritte's Le Banquet auctioned for 16.7m euros in New York, Flanders buys two sketches by Ludwig van Beethoven


​​Ongoing events

Josef and Anni Albers
​Knights of the Golden Fleece​​​
Afrika Film Festival
​​Jean-Michel Folon, A Journey in Brussels​​​​​
​​​Jef Verheyen: Window on Infinity KMSKA
​​​Paul Harbutt, Museum De Reede​​​​​
Rodin: A Modern Renaissance





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