Don't be ashamed to be human

Don't be ashamed to be a human being—be proud!
Inside you one vault after another opens endlessly.
You'll never be complete, and that's as it should be.

This is a verse from the poem Romanesque Arches by Tomas Tranströmer, the Swedish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (translation by Robert Bly). The words are pronounced by an angel who embraces the protagonist and whispers the words in his ear. Tomas Tranströmer knew better than anyone that music is the medium that makes the inner vaults sound, vault after vault resounding endlessly. Divine music, the adage of Musica Divina, is surely one of the most remarkable achievements that we can take pride in as human beings.

Abbey Weekend will focus on the historical figure of Jesus as a human being: we see him as a man of flesh and blood in Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri at Averbode Abbey, and as a son at concerts in Tongerlo and Postel Abbey. In Turnhout, humanity in the past and present is mirrored in music, and the secret ingredient – love – comes into play in Herentals. Hear an ode to human beings as storytellers and singers of songs in Heist-op-den-Berg: those who try to grasp the mysteries of life through rituals. Last but not least is the boundless imagination of humanity at play in Lier and Hoogstraten. A solo piece at the start of the concerts, such as Frank Nuyts’ virtuoso De tous biens playnes, serves as a metaphor for ‘the lonely person in their own company.’

Musica Divina is a total experience. Besides heavenly classical music, expect guided tours, various lectures and the second edition of Poesia Divina. 2018 is also the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO’s appointment of seventeen beguinages as World Heritage. Celebrate this anniversary year with us at the beguinage churches in Lier and Hoogstraten. The divine sounds on the programme are produced by exciting musicians and ensembles including the Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, Leonardo García Alarcón, Susanna Wallumrød, Philippe Pierlot, Romina Lischka and Gunnar Idenstam.

On behalf of the entire festival team, I would like to wish you a heavenly festival!