It will come as no surprise that people sing a song about the moon now and then in Mechelen, the city of the Maneblussers, the people who tried to extinguish the moon. But a song about a mountain? Actually Mechelen really does have its own mountain, and what a magnificent mountain it is: the composer Philippus de Monte, or ‘Philip of the Mountain’ in English. Even in his own time, he was known as the Prince of Music. De Monte lived to see most of the 16th century: born in Mechelen in 1521, it would be 82 years before he breathed his last in Prague. As a singer trained at St. Rumbold's Cathedral, he would work in Naples, Rome and London before ultimately becoming the Kapellmeister to two Habsburg emperors, Maximilian II and Rudolf II, at the courts of Vienna and Prague. Besides fulfilling these eminent roles, he was known as an amiable and modest man: a musical scion that his home city can be more than proud of.
Five hundred years after his birth, Lunalia, the Festival of Flanders Mechelen, is celebrating the last of the Flemish Polyphonists. The festival will feature leading ensembles including Graindelavoix, Ratas del Viejo Mundo and the Vlaams Radiokoor (Flemish Radio Choir), who will be tackling some of De Monte’s compositions from among the more than 1600 works that have been passed down to us. It will be a remarkable new encounter with this refined composer. Besides the Mountain of Mechelen, the famous Mount Fuji in Japan also features in the festival’s new production U ki yo E. Another remarkable première is They have waited long enough. The composers Annelies Van Parys, Calliope Tsoupaki and Aftab Darvishi were asked to compose new work on the figures of Medea, Penelope and Circe respectively. None other than the writers Natalie Haynes and Gaea Schoeters guide the project in the right direction.
Our artist in residence in 2021 is the lute player Floris De Rycker. He is the driving force behind Ratas del Viejo Mundo and Sub†ilior, but he can also be heard in the opening concert and the De Monte project by Graindelavoix.
The Song of the Mountain and the Moon has become Lunalia’s motto in 2021. Let’s climb the mountain together to hear the song even better in the moonlight.
The concerts of Lunalia 2021 are offered digitally and free of charge via www.lunalia.be. A free contribution is possible on the account number BE06 0010 3720 3822 with the mention "free contribution Lunalia 2021".