United Music of Brussels: a day of musical wonder all over the city

On 8 September, La Monnaie/De Munt, the Belgian National Orchestra and BOZAR will join forces for the third edition of United Music of Brussels. This year’s theme is wonderment as a trigger for curiosity and creativity: the wonderment people will experience as they discover both new locations and enjoy unique musical experiences that challenge the boundaries of classical music.

From 2 p.m. until 7 p.m., the public and passers-by can walk from Place de la Monnaie to the Centre for Fine Arts, with multiple different and unexpected stops along the way, in fifteen iconic locations in the city centre. These mini-concerts will combine classical music and dynamic DJ sets, or jazz beats and dance. They will turn a great opera into a light-hearted musical, and a historic concert hall into a film set.


Each concert is performed by one or more musicians from one of the institutions, who have partnered with other musicians and artists for their concert or who will perform their personal take on a classical work. The journey starts on the monumental staircase of La Monnaie/De Munt where soloists and 40 singers from La Monnaie Choruses and the MM Academy will treat you to a few measures of The Magic Flute.


The route will continue along the Galeries Saint Hubert, where the Belgian National Orchestra’s brass section will bring the passage to life in the course of an entire afternoon, with a medley of varied works, from Bach to Granados, and Gabrieli to Hazell. First stop at the Théâtre du Vaudeville, where maestro Philippe Thuriot with his fellow jazz musicians, and a musician from the Belgian National Orchestra who has been kidnapped for the occasion will delight audiences with their reinvention of the soundtrack to René Clair’s Dadaist film Entr’Acte! . Another kind of atmosphere in the Cinéma Galeries, where Maaike Cafmeyer will guide you through a “pocket” version of The Magic Flute, “West Flanders style” or in other words plenty of colourful dialect. In the gallery’s magnificent basement, you can hear the original and total experience of the Ensemble Contr’Air which will bring an excerpt from Rachmaninov’s Vespers.



In the Coworking Les Galeries, The Belgian National Orchestra’s Zen String Duo will guide you in a gentle and meditative session of yin yoga on the sounds of the violin and the cello in to an evocative minimalist composition by Estonian Pēteris Vasks. As you part company with the crowds on the ground floor, the lucky ones can attend a concert of Da Costa Gorlenko Ineke Trio in a private apartment located in the royal galleries, made available especially for this occasion. Also in in the Galeries and other surprise venues, Mâäk & KOJO will mingle very precise jazz with Benin ritual voodoo music.

In the Mary Magdalene Chapel, The Belgian National Orchestra’s Wind Soloists will propose A Pocket Symphony of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in a transcription from the time for a harmony orchestra, with eight musicians. The Madeleine room will be a place of love where the Soloists from the la Monnaie Choir will bring you a delightful medley, both casual and tender, of the great standards of contemporary jazz made by Cole Porter. Still at the Madeleine, the classical singers of Collectif Elsela will take you on a dreamlike journey on the sounds of Debussy, Britten and Ravel.

A little higher, between the books of Galerie Bortier, intimate acoustics will resound with the mellow voices of the Quatuor Calliope, which has put together a programme combining love songs from the Renaissance and poetry recitals from all different eras. At Café Brasserie 28, housed in the former Post Office of the Central Station, The Belgian National Orchestra’s Mixed Quintet & Tcha Limberger Trio will narrate the adventures of the mischievous Uylenspiegel, in a scaled-down and manouche version of Richard Strauss’s superb score.



In the Galerie Ravenstein, the artists of the Belgian National Orchestra invite you to take their place or, in any case, to seat yourself in their rehearsal chairs in the Orchestra’s rehearsal room, exceptionally open to the public, for a powerful performance with their percussionists. The three last musical stops of the journey will take the curious to the Centre for Fine Arts, where DJ Keso will get you moving with classical loops in the Half Circus, with live accompaniment from the violin and cello, Abdeslam El Manzah, alias Manza, will also enter into battle with his slam poetry and Greg Lox will break-dance.

In the cozy Royal Room, exceptionally open to the public, Lisa Willems & Thomas Eeckhout presents a few extracts of the cycle for voice and piano of the American composer Libby Larsen. Each of the melodies puts a text written by one of the unlucky Queens, murdered by Henry VIII, to music. From 18.15pm till 19.00pm, for the festive and worthy close of the event, the Horta Hall will vibrate to the sounds of Vivaldi Recomposed from Max Richter, interpreted by Lorenzo Gatto and the Belgian National Orchestra’s String Section.

Apart from the opening and closing concerts, each of the mini-concerts or musical experiences will be repeated several times during the afternoon, allowing the public to attend multiple concerts. To facilitate the movement, a program, including a floor plan, a description and an indication of times for each concert, will be handed out to the public at different places along the route and also at the two information stands, one at the Place de la Monnaie and the other in front of the Central Station. Volunteers will also guide the visitors from one place to another.

United Music of Brussels is a unique opportunity for these three Belgian federal cultural institutions to break out of their respective institutions, to widen their horizons, to establish synergies and to help energize the capital.

This edition which will take place in several iconic locations in the city centre, including La Monnaie/De Munt, the Centre for Fine Arts, the Galeries and the Church of St Mary Magdalene, emphasizes their close ties with the historic city centre of Brussels and the heritage buildings in 2018, the European Year of Cultural Heritage.