A Belgian institution for the training of exceptionally gifted young musicians
The Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium offers exceptional musical experiences to young musicians from around the world. It is a unique centre of excellence in Europe, and as the executive president, I would love to share my vision and experiences. Since I joined the Chapel in 2004, its aims have been completely updated and are now defined by three areas:
Firstly, the pedagogical approach of the Music Chapel is extraordinary, due to the expert level of training and the spirit of companionship between the young talents we nurture and our masters in residence, who are huge names in classical music: José Van Dam, Augustin Dumay, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Gary Hoffman, the Artemis Quartet and Maria João Pires.
Secondly, we seek to implement professional development into everyday life at the Music Chapel, made possible through a network of cultural partners, both in Belgium and around the world. Here in Belgium we work with major venues such as the Bozar, Flagey, La Monnaie and various festivals, to give our young musicians the chance to perform at a professional level and to gain vital experience. The Music Chapel also collaborates with major orchestras such as the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia, the Brussels Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liege and more. Our partnerships abroad include a number of festivals and orchestras to provide great experience for the youth of the Chapel. The festivals include Menton, Nice, Radio France Montpellier, Aix en Provence, Vexin, Reims, Auditorium of the Louvre and many more, as well as orchestras such as the Sinfonia Varsovia, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Chamber Orchestra and the Kansai Orchestra. At our recent annual Gala Concert, our young musicians were led by conductor Christopher Warren-Green and accompanied by the National Orchestra of Belgium, providing them with the opportunity to perform to a huge audience and gain the first-hand experience of being a professional musician.
Thirdly, it is a major focus of ours to view our work with the young musicians through a more holistic approach, focusing on their individual personalities. There is the continuous presence of a physiotherapist and psychotherapist, as well as a sports coach and yoga teacher at the Music Chapel to develop the young musicians’ characters. We have developed a new department, the ‘Artist’s Village’ in order to foster a more homely feel at the Music Chapel, so that all of our artists are comfortable and nourished.
The Music Chapel has also partnered with one of the largest independent labels in Europe to provide recording opportunities for all of our students. We collaborate with Fuga Libera in order to archive the earliest recordings of those who may become major artists in the future. Most recently Plamena Mangova, The Dali Trio and Nikita Boriso-Glebsky are examples of those who have benefited from this essential tool for the development of a career as a talented musician.
The last recording was released in September 2012: the magnificent Sinfonia Varsovia under the direction of Augustin Dumay, joined by his scholar Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, performing works by Lalo. Winner of the 2010 Sibelius Competition, Fritz Kreisler, Montreal, the Tchaikovsky Competition, and the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, Nikita is one of the brightest talents of his generation. Along with the famous and colourful Symphonie espagnole, there are many less known pieces, such as the Sonata, Op 12 for violin and piano in which Jean-Philippe Collard gives a sparkling performance alongside the young Russian violinist: the opportunity to recall that Lalo was a pioneer of chamber music in France.
Our next recording currently in progress is the complete works for cello and violin with orchestra by Saint-Saëns. It brings together several cellists and violinists of the Music Chapel, this time accompanied by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liege, under the direction of Christian Arming.
Finally, the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel has undergone a full renovation in recent years, including its programme and facilities, with further plans to complete this transformation with the construction of a new building that will enable the Chapel to fully expand in its exceptional location in Waterloo, Belgium. This will include the addition of new studios for artists-in-residence, an important aspect of this institution since 1939, as well as the provision of rehearsal rooms and recording facilities in-house.
These new facilities will allow the Music Chapel to pursue the future of its musical education with confidence for the coming decades and will provide the young musicians and masters in residence with the best tools to develop their spirit of companionship, which is so essential to our institution.