At last – a deal with Brussels!

1 March 2019

After months of negotiation, we’re delighted to report that we’ve managed to strike an agreement with Brussels. Specifically, with our friends at the Klarafestival and the legendary BOZAR concert hall, who will jointly host a debut Brussels appearance from Aurora on 29 March, marking the scheduled date of Brexit. Nicolas Altstaedt and Ian Bostridge join us for a special programme, supported by the British Council, that celebrates the deep and ongoing cultural connections between the UK and Europe, bringing together music by Haydn, Britten and Tavener, and readings from British writers Jonathan Coe, Ali Smith and Sulaiman Addonia.

Conducted by leading French-German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and featuring British tenor Ian Bostridge, the programme opens with The Protecting Veil, John Tavener’s iconic work for solo cello and strings that stands amongst the most widely-cherished pieces of late twentieth-century British instrumental music. The second half of the concert features Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations – a song cycle for tenor and strings setting text by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud – and Haydn’s tongue-in-cheek ‘Farewell’ symphony, where we see the players bid farewell in the iconic final movement, leaving the stage one by one until only a pair of muted violins are left.

Interwoven among the music, British writers Ali Smith and Jonathan Coe read extracts from their novels Autumn and Middle England respectively, and Brussels-based British writer Sulaiman Addonia reads a new short story, offering their perspectives on the cultural relations between the UK and Europe.

John Harte, our Chief Executive: ‘We are deeply honoured to be invited to appear as guests of BOZAR and the Klarafestival on a date laden with such significance for the contemporary relationship between the UK and Europe. Regardless of the ebb and flow of political alignments over time, as an orchestra our artistic DNA will always be inextricably interwoven with that of Europe, with European composers, musicians, and stories all playing a vital role in our musical life. We wholeheartedly embrace the idea of an event which celebrates the ties between the UK and our European neighbours, irrespective of current political context. As an ensemble whose membership comprises many different nationalities and which tours widely throughout Europe, we are passionately committed to maintaining and strengthening these cultural ties, and look forward to reaffirming them in the company of the BOZAR audience on 29 March.’

Cathy Graham, Director, Music at the British Council: ‘The UK and Europe share a rich history full of important musical connections. It was the Royal Philharmonic Society in London who commissioned Beethoven’s ninth symphony and supported the great composer when both money and good health deserted him, while both Handel and J C Bach (the ‘London Bach’) made the English capital their home for the major part of their careers. The same city inspired some of Haydn’s most celebrated work, and with his ‘Farewell’ symphony we mark the end of one chapter of history between the UK and Europe but also usher in a new era, one which we are determined will be just as fruitful and inspiring for all of our musicians wherever they may live or work across this fabulously creative continent. We are delighted to be supporting Aurora Orchestra to make their debut in the Klarafestival at BOZAR with this special performance.’

Hendrik Storme, Artistic Director at the Klarafestival: ‘A music festival with an awareness of what’s happening in the world today, cannot organise a concert on 29 March 2019 without taking Brexit into consideration. Together with our concert partner BOZAR we decided to turn our closing concert into a tribute to the inseparable cultural ties between Europe and the UK. Brexit or not, Europe and the UK will always be connected through the language of music and culture.’

Closing Concert at Klarafestival
29 March 8pm
BOZAR, Brussels

In partnership with the British Council, BOZAR and Klarafestival