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Upcoming CD: KSL and friends interpret Weill

In September, Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady (Andrew Wise and I) recorded our first CD, working together with some impressive, high caliber friends – Raphaël D’Agostino on cornet and flügelhorn, Hendrik Vanattenhoven on double bass, and Peter Ploegaerts on drums. It was an intense 3 days. More news on the release soon.

I have a long history with Kurt Weill. Thanks to an inscription on a fly-leaf, I know that I owned my very first Brecht/Weill songbook when I was only 14 years old.

What is it that touches me in this music? In essence, it’s the bittersweet mix of clever, acerbic, punchy texts with melodies that touch the heart. Even in the songs that have the hardest edge – I’m thinking of Pirate Jenny, or Sailors’ Tango – the harsh, biting elements are offset by moments of beautiful lyricism. And take Mackie Messer – what an intriguing mixture: a swinging, happy tune (impossible not to move to that beat!) setting a gruesome, horrible text.

These are songs that exemplify the time when they were written: the swinging high life running at full tilt on top of an unstable society doomed by inequality, prejudice and hardship. And at the same time, they remain relevant today, reflecting as they do the rough and smooth of life.


Photos from W/A/R with Kamerkoor Koriolis

An inspired programme of music on the theme of war, including choral works from contemporary composers Ešenvalds, Swerts and the multi-talented Andrew Wise; The Voice by Stefaan Vanheertum for choir and soloist; and duets by Kurt Weill performed by Andrew and myself appearing as Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady. With thanks to Joris Derder for his excellent leadership.

Photos copyright © Johan De Lannoy

New article about Organum Duplum published

My article The Need for Artistic Experimentation when Preparing Organum Duplum for Performance has been published in Experimental Encounters in Music and Beyond, ed. Kathleen Coessens (2017) by Leuven University Press as part of the Orpheus Institute Series. You can get a copy of this volume here.

For more info about this ecstatic, wonderful music (pretty much the first polyphony to have developed in Western musical culture) see my Notre Dame School page.

A busy summer…

I have not been keeping up to date with my blogs!

In my defence, it has been a very busy summer. We took our new Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady programme, Weill at Sea to England for its première performance on Saturday July 22nd. We were appearing for the fourth year running as part of Roger Rowe’s Chapel Concert series in Norwich, and we received a wonderful, warm welcome – thank you all!

And then it was back to Brussels to prepare for two very different and equally exciting projects:

A performance with the women’s vocal ensemble La Noeva of the entire 14th century Llibre Vermell manuscript; and our first ever CD recording as Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady. Too much for one blog – more details to follow!

Weill at Sea – new Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady programme: coming soon!!!