It may be the best thing to come out of Belgium after chocolates. Or even the only good thing after chocolates. I refer to the remarkable orchestra Anima Eterna Brugge. Not from Brussels, but from the beautiful city of Bruges, the orchestra is coming to the Sydney Festival in the last week of January. Over five nights the orchestra will perform all of the symphonies of Beethoven on historically appropriate instruments. The first four concerts of the first eight symphonies will be presented in the Recital Hall; for the Ninth Symphony the orchestra will be joined by Australian Brandenburg Choir for a performance in the Opera House.
Formed in 1985 and led to this day by Jos van Immerseel, the orchestra has won acclaim for its authentic re-creations of the style of performance of the period in which a work was written. Anima Eterna has evolved from an initially small chamber group of six players exploring Bach into a symphonic orchestra typical of the Romantic era with an average of 45 players for a repertoire encompassing Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Rossini.
Since 2003, Anima Eterna has been the resident orchestra in the newly built Bruges concert hall, the Concertgebouw. Some thought that name belonged to Amsterdam but that’s Europe for you. Coincidently the Sydney Symphony is presenting a complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies under Ashkenazy just two weeks later; a stylistically interesting contrast.
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