Welcome on the site of the International Gregorian Festival of Watou

Eleventh International Gregorian Festival of Watou (Belgium)
from 12 May until 20 May 2012


pre-programs from 12th to 17th May:

• 12 May Duinkerke / Dunkerque (F)
• 13 May Poperinge (B) en Koksijde (B)
• 15 May Brussel / Bruxelles (B)
• 16 May Boëseghem (F)
• 17 May Wervik (B)
• 18 May Haringe (B)
• 18 May Roosdaal (B)

Program of Watou from 17th to 20th May


The festival, a Symbiosis of Art and Emotion


From the 17th to the 20th of May 2012, twenty-eight prominent gregorian scholas, ensembles and choirs from Europe and Asia will be meeting in the West-Flemish art village of Watou where, for the eleventh time, the International Festival of Gregorian Chant will take place, the most important festival in the world featuring this kind of music. For people who cherish silence and gregorian chant Watou has become a halting-place and a pilgrim’s resort.
Certain towns and regions in the world are well-known for specific art festivals. Automatically Avignon comes to mind when drama and drama productions are mentioned for example.
In the same way Watou is “the place to be” for the new gregorian choir practice and famous all over the world for its triennial International Gregorian Festival.
In various universities all over the world musicological congresses are organized focusing on gregorian chant and practice, but no festival brings such a large number of high quality choirs together on a non-competitive basis as the festival at Watou.
Taking part in the International Festival at Watou is a “must”, so to speak, for the curriculum of any gregorian schola. This is proof positive for the strength of the project. Watou is now known all over the world for this kind of music.
Every three years the “Internationaal Festival van het Gregoriaans” is organized at Watou, promoting gregorian chant as a form of universal music. As for the time aspect gregorian chant has existed for more than fifteen centuries. It remained intact throughout the centuries and was capable of resisting all historical change.
There is also a space aspect to be considered. The universal character of gregorian chant is illustrated by the participation of choirs from all regions of Europe: North, South, East and West and from the Far East.
The festival boasts a very high quality level. This does not only open up new horizons for this oldest form of our musical patrimony, it is also makes gregorian chant accessible for the active listener thanks to its high quality level, the variety of choirs and the attractive program. There is a lot to enjoy at the festival and in a number of ways. The visitor will be impressed by the wealth of sound produced by the semi-professional and professional scholas. The choirs, including male and female adult choirs and children’s choirs offer a lively variety. The listener gets the experience of a unique event, where emotion surpasses theory. At every edition people attend the events in ever growing numbers.
The festival has a special character. It is a festive encounter and it creates a deeply human concord among both the singers, singing this music with great care and mastery, and the audience who are touched by the noble simplicity and the gripping expressive force of this music. Both the listener, familiar with this music or not, and the performer experience the deep feeling of unity among all the participants.
New to this eleventh edition is the number of partner cities and cultural organizations who participate with enthusiasm in the activities of the festival. Their co-operation makes it possible to start the festival already on Saturday the 12th of May in a number of towns and villages: Duinkerke, Poperinge, Koksijde, Brussel, Boëseghem, Wervik, Haringe and Roosdaal-Strijtem.
I am very happy to present this innovative festival program to you and to invite you to the Eleventh International Festival of Watou to rediscover the beauty of this “musical icon” of our Western Culture.

Bernard Deheegher, organizer