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Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady

We offer programmes of music from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, featuring the works of Kurt Weill as well as other jazz and popular classics from the period. With both classically-trained and jazz musicians in the group, we interpret these vintage gems in our own way that straddles these two worlds. This approach is particularly fitting for this interesting composer who started out as a classical musician, but incorporated jazz and dance elements into his music, creating his own unique blend.

We perform in two different formats. We take a more classical approach with our duo:

  • Penelope Turner – Voice
  • Andrew Wise – Piano

and create a jazzier sound with our 5-piece band:

  • Penelope Turner – Voice
  • Andrew Wise – Piano
  • Raphaël D’Agostino – cornet and flügelhorn
  • Nathan Wouters/Hendrik Vanattenhove – doublebass
  • Peter Ploegaerts – drums and percussion.

Here are a couple of teaser videos made from live material from our concert at the Archiduc Café in Brussels on Sunday December 1, 2019. The first was recorded and put together by Nhân Massart, the other features the photos of Liz Morrison:

Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady is our way of keeping Kurt Weill’s music alive and kicking: it deserves it.

In the context of today’s world many of the song texts set by Weill (for example, those written by Bertolt Brecht), remain strikingly relevant. They should be heard by as many people as possible.

But with our interpretations we go further than a simple re-airing of the texts – however important that may be. Our aim is to emphasize the beauty of Weill’s music as well as underlining the message: to bring into focus his unique bitter-sweet blend. In a way, this project underlines the link between the intellect and the emotions: wisdom results  from a marriage of head and heart. This music has the potential to stimulate the brain while at the same time grabbing the soul and touching our essence.

This music should be shared as far and wide as possible. It addresses some of the enormous problems our society currently faces: the failings of our economic system and the rich-poor divide; the misery of some people’s lives and what it can make them do; the subjugation (still!) of women; the complications and complexities of the human heart.

Oh, and some of the songs are just plain fun 😉


In December 2018 we released our first CD. You can purchase a copy here:

Producer: Penelope Turner; Recording Engineer: Johan Kennivé, Musical Advisor: Tom Deneckere; Artwork: Wim Didelez; Record Label:

Details of Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady’s programmes

Weill at Sea

Inspired by the sea and by the many wonderful works written by Weill and his various librettist on this theme.

There’s Pirate Jenny, who stares out to sea as she dreams her revenge fantasy; there’s Marie from Marie Galante, who imagines sailing away on her ship of hope; there’s the forsaken lover of the irresistible, unreliable sailor, Surabaya Johnny: he told her he worked on the railway – and she believed him…

And then we have been so bold as to add to our Kurt Weill platter other pearls from the period. They are all watery jewels, and, in deference to the rather lovely pun on ‘Weill at Sea’ that makes it ‘Violet Sea’, they often have a colourful tinge (such as Blaue Nacht am Hafen and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; but we also interpret the ever-haunting Cry me a River).

Somewhere in Between

A woman between ages, between men. A love between excitement and destruction. Somewhere between sweetness and sadness. Somewhere between classical and jazz.

Proud of being difficult to classify, ‘Somewhere in Between’ is a story from the buffer zone: what happens in those ‘in between’ areas that make life interesting. Featuring songs from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady experiments with music whose sweetness contrasts – sometimes brutally – with the sharpness of the lyrics. (Just think of Kurt Weill’s ‘Mack the Knife’ with its fun, swinging, jazzy music and the words that are as hard as steel.) Although many songs from this era are sugar sweet and sentimental, we concentrate on the pithier stuff – music that was formed by the context in which it was created.

Marlene in Paris

The music of Marlene Dietrich and friends in 1930s Paris

A programme inspired by Marlene Dietrich that conjures up the flamboyance, elegance, decadence, glamour, and dark political undertones of Paris between the two World Wars.

In the 1930s, Dietrich spent much time in Paris, living on the Champs-Elysées and mixing with influential figures from the period such as Jean Cocteau and his circle of talented friends. Our programme includes music by Francis Poulenc and Kurt Weill as well as songs that Marlene herself made famous throughout her career.

Just Kurt

Songs from the 20s, 30, and 40s by Kurt Weill

Berlin theatre songs, 1940s Broadway hits and French chansons à texte. The golden thread is the music of Kurt Weill, whose brilliant settings enhance the bite of the elegant and provocative texts provided by Bert Brecht, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash and Maurice Magre. The interpretation is modern and sassy; a high-quality musical performance combines with a pithy text-biased approach: a perfect new setting for a string of vintage pearls.