Klarafestival 2019
12-17 March 2019


The Chamber Orchestra of Europe performs for the first time at the Klarafestival, where it is the Orchestra in Residence, with conductor David Afkham and soloists including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Vilde Frang and Lawrence Power. The Festival’s opening concert in Brussels on 14th March and our concert in Antwerp the next day will feature Two Episodes from Lenau’s ‘Faust’ by Liszt, Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 15 (on the 14th) and 25 (on the 15th) and Mendelssohn’s ‘Die Erste Walpurgis Nacht’ where we will be joined by singers Sophie Harmsen, Werner Güra, Johannes Weisser, Tareq Nazmi and Collegium Vocale Gent. On 16th March in Bruges, we will perform Two Episodes from Lenau’s ‘Faust’ by Liszt again, as well as Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante and Symphony No. 41 ‘Jupiter’.


The COE in Belgium

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe has been performing in Brussels and Antwerp since 1986 and formed a particularly strong relationship with BOZAR, where it was invited every few years with world-renowned conductors and soloists including Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Bernard Haitink, Paavo Berglund, Sir András Schiff, Alfred Brendel, Viktoria Mullova and Cecilia Bartoli. Although the COE once performed in Antwerp in 1993 with Sir Roger Norrington, it is really in 2016 that our relationship with deSingel started developing, following our concert with Sir Antonio Pappano and oboist Francois Leleux. Since then, the Orchestra has been invited back with Nicholas Collon and now with David Afkham.

A number of our smaller scale projects in Belgium were linked to the European Union during the time when the COE was European Cultural Ambassador and involved performing at Flagey and at the European Parliament in the context of events such as the European Culture Forum.


David Afkham

Recently appointed Artistic Director of the Spanish National Orchestra and Chorus, where he has been Principal Conductor for some time, David Afkham was the first recipient of the ‘Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent’ and assisted Maestro Haitink on a number of major projects.

It was during this time that he first conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, stepping in for one rehearsal at the Lucerne Festival. This experience left a strong impression on Orchestra and conductor alike and David said: “It’s a great pleasure for me to return to the COE. During my time as an assistant to my mentor Bernard Haitink I experienced truly formative and magical moments of music with this very special orchestra. The musical excellence, tremendous joy and openness with which these musicians play feel like a warm embrace – one to which I am very much looking forward.”



This year’s Festival’s theme is Libera Me – liberation – which means free of any form of physical or mental constraint, duress, morality or attachment. Inspired by the mythical figure of Faust, who sells his body and his soul to the Devil in exchange for infinite knowledge and pleasure but then soon regrets it and finds himself begging for salvation, Klarafestival 2019 focusses on salvation and the battle between good and evil that often precedes it.

For more information, please visit: https://klarafestival.be

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