What’s on: Bach, Bruges and bliss


The Bach Academy Bruges is back with a heavenly theme, while Mechelen’s arts biennial reinvents itself and jazz takes over the capital

Bach Academy Bruges

Heaven laughs, Earth exults! Bach was perhaps never more clear in his examination of the relationship between heaven and earth than in his famous Easter cantata, but the Bach Academy Bruges has found many more ways to explore the subject.

This eighth edition of the festival uses “Heaven on earth” as its guide. The exceptional programme includes the rarely performed Concertos for three and four harpsichords by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (pictured) and Claire Croizé’s Flowers (we are), with three dancers and two pianists playing a new composition inspired by Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. 15-20 January, across Bruges

Contour Biennale

Mechelen’s biennial of the moving image is shaking things up, staging three public weekends over the course of several months, rather than the 10-week installation parcours of previous editions. The Slovenian-born, Paris-based curator Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez has named this ninth edition of the event Coltan as Cotton, a reference to the video poem by American essayist and slam poet Saul Williams. Every public weekend, a series of art installations, film screenings, talks and workshops by local and international artists will take place across the city, all focused on the main themes of ecology, inequa­lity, degrowth, solida­rity and racism – and how they relate to each other. 11-13 January, 17-19 May, 18-20 October, across Mechelen

Jazz, jazz and more jazz

January is officially jazz month in Brussels, with not one, not two, but three festivals dedicated to the musical genre. Djangofollies is a tribute to the great Belgian-born Django Reinhardt and takes place across the country, with the artist’s signature jazz guitar taking centre stage. River Jazz Festival is a celebration of the modern jazz scene, from fusion to world. And, finally, the Brussels Jazz Festival, based at Flagey, brings some of the biggest local and international artists and ensembles to the capital. A lively film programme includes classic and new cinema with jazz scores. Many BJF shows are already sold out, so check the programme and book now. Until 30 January, across Brussels & Belgium

Get tix now: JR

Rarely is a local stage production so thoroughly and universally praised as JR. While some note the unique adaptation of the postmodern masterpiece upon which it is based, others are simply in awe of the set: A 14-metre-high building with 25 different locations, eight projectors, 700 props, 300 square metres of wall, five square kilometres of theatre drapes, and one limo. Antwerp troupe FC Bergman’s four-hour take on the satirical story of an 11-year-old boy who secretly amasses a fortune in penny stocks, premiered last year, but it’s such a logistical nightmare, it has rarely been performed. Tickets for the Brussels show – in 2020 – are on sale now. Buy some. 18-22 March 2020, Paleis 12, Miramarlaan, Brussels

Photo: Uwe Arens