Artists linking love and death focus of Klara Festival


The latest edition of the eclectic festival sponsored by classical radio station Klara looks at the obsession of poets and composers of associating true love with death

Love hurts

Love, state the organisers of the 11th edition of the Klara Festival, is possibly the most popular theme in musical history. They prove this hypothesis, under the theme If Love Could Be, with more than 20 concerts organised across Brussels (and one in both Bruges and Antwerp).

World-famous Flemish conductor René Jacobs leads the Freiburger Barockorchester (pictured) through the baroque opera The Barber of Seville by Giovanni Paisiello, a prototype of a comic rollercoaster, filled to the brim with amorous complications.

Artists, be it composers, authors or film directors, like to link love with death. Frenchmen Olivier Messiaen was one of them, as his Turangalîla Symphony shows. The 20th-century masterpiece is performed by the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo.

Romeo and Juliet, one of history’s most famous love stories, has inspired countless composers. One of them was Sergei Prokofiev, who wrote a score for a ballet based on Shakespeare’s drama. Even without dancers, the music, played by Russia’s Musica Aeterna, takes listeners on a dark journey where love is doomed.

Romeo and Juliet in Manhattan

Speaking of which, the Brussels Philharmonic plays the music during a screening of West Side Story, where the Romeo and Juliet scenario plays out amid the gangs of New York. One of the greatest musical melodramas in the history of cinema, this screening with live orchestra accompaniment is a Klara highlight.

Klara is the Flemish public broadcaster VRT’s radio station dedicated to classical music in all its forms, from baroque to Bernstein. But Klara also lends a place to experimental and jazz music. Nothing That Is Everything is the new project from Stef Kamil Carlens and Aarich Jespers of rock band Zita Swoon. They were inspired by the atmosphere of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, where the seeds of dada were planted during the First World War.

For the most surprising evening of the Klara Festival, you’re expected at Fuse, the Brussels nightclub that in the 1990s was the womb of revolutionary techno music. Yellow Lounge, a concept that was born in the trendy cultural trenches of contemporary Berlin, is an evening of short gigs by classical musicians mixed in with DJ sets. Indeed, classical music and party aren’t antipodes anymore.

By the way, as you might have expected, many of these concerts will be broadcast on Klara.

6-21 March in venues across Brussels