[Festivals Stories] AMUZ Festival
Laus Polyphoniae, the summer festival of AMUZ, has fulfilled a unique role since 1994 through its commitment to restoring the value and international renown of Flemish polyphony. Every year from mid-August onwards, Antwerp becomes the epicentre of early music. That is because Laus Polyphoniae has grown over the last 28 years into the world's biggest festival with such a strong focus on polyphony and it has continued to evolve throughout the pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis made it clear that human contact is irreplaceable and always will be. Laus Polyphoniae went in search of new dimensions that it could add to the experience of live music. It was recast as Polyphony Connects: a virtual platform with archive recordings and live streams. For the regular concert audience, it was a look back at the rich history of the previous editions. At the same time, the platform removed the barrier - both physical and financial - for all those people who had always wanted to come to a concert but couldn't, or didn't know what to choose, or couldn't find anyone to go with them. Every part of Polyphony Connects was free and available online.
Whereas Laus Polyphoniae was - by necessity - a trip down memory lane last year, this year's festival aims to pull out all the stops wherever possible. That is because the polyphonist Josquin des Prez died exactly 500 years ago. In the 16th century his music was considered the absolute pinnacle of perfection so we cannot let this pass unmarked. It is not yet time for wild parties at Laus Polyphoniae, but the programme does feature a series of live concerts again. Once again, these concerts will be available for free on the platform and for international listeners the festival is coming a little closer: to three international concert stages in York, Boston and Tokyo.
Laus Polyphoniae 2021 is a hybrid, which does absolutely nothing to detract from the strong content that is so typical of this festival. As a festival specialising in polyphony, it sets itself the task of shedding new light on the works of Josquin des Prez. So alongside the concerts, there will be 12 documentaries offering background information on twelve masterpieces by Josquin.
The philosophy of Polyphony Connects has also found its way into AMUZ's wider activities. The festival is part of a community, one in which it gladly takes an active role. Where the music stops, AMUZ aims to bring locals, volunteers and staff actively into contact with each other from now on. Anyone who is unsure which concert they should choose gets a helping hand. People who have trouble finding a companion to go to concerts with can get talking to like-minded souls. Anyone whose budget doesn't run to a standard ticket knows how to access our special rates. Everyone knows they are welcome. That this festival will be accessible to everyone now and in the future is a fact that will no longer be in any doubt at all.
More information: www.amuz.be
(General Editor: Simon Mundy)
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