Voices of Passion 2024

The Leuven Chansonnier: 50 gems in 4 concerts

Leuven and polyphony have long been closely connected. Together with the Alamire Foundation, we put this tradition and the contemporary knowledge and performance practice in the spotlight during the Voices of Passion festival. The 2024 edition will focus entirely on the Leuven Chansonnier, the Flemish masterpiece from the late 15th century which contains a wealth of polyphonic music from the Low Countries.

When an old, unknown book is presented to the Alamire Foundation in 2015 for research, the manuscript exceeds all expectations. With the help of various disciplines, such as musicology, heraldry, art history, textile history and linguistics, researchers have gained an insight into the manuscript’s provenance and history in recent years. It turns out to be a late-fifteenth-century songbook containing a wealth of polyphonic music from the Low Countries: 49 French chansons, preceded by Walter Frye’s religious Ave Regina Caelorum.

The extraordinary find stirred the art and heritage world; the chansonnier was even recognised as a Flemish masterpiece in 2018. The songs embody the pinnacle of 15th-century Franco-Flemish polyphony to French medieval lyrics, a highly exceptional discovery.

The small songbook was named Leuven Chansonnier, after the city where the Alamire Foundation resides and the chansonnier is kept. After a world premiere in New York and conferences, lectures and performances in Tokyo, Ambronay, Rome, Berlin, York and Antwerp, viola player Anna Danilevskaia and the Sollazzo Ensemble bring all 50 compositions from the songbook in various line-ups to conclude this major research and recording project.

The musicians of the vocal-instrumental Sollazzo - the young top ensemble currently inspiring the international music world - will be residing with the Alamire Foundation during its Voices of Passion festival and will perform all fifty chansons from the Leuven Chansonnier during an exceptional marathon edition.

Four unique concerts that allow you to discover a fifteenth-century musical gem note by note. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!