The Festival, a tsunami of virtuosity and mysticism

Four hundred fresh, young and for the greater part professionally trained voices revive centuries-old music and texts grandiosely during the International Gregorian Festival of Watou.

It is going to be a sparkling and universal event in which 26 scholas and top ensembles from every corner in the world, from Columbia to Australia will take part. Vocal virtuosity is trumps. A large number of participating scholas are professional or semi-professional , which stands for the highest quality level and renewed radiation. Five youth choirs will create an atmosphere of admiration and tenderness.

Watou is a village where ‘being still’ is much appreciated. The tie with gregorian chant is intense. The meditative and moving rest of gregorian chant is part of the rural environment as it were.

The Gregorian Festival, organized every three years, evolved in the course of the years to the most important festival in the world for this kind of music. It enjoys an international reputation, and is a unique event.

It is remarkable that this festival has been created and is being supported by an extensive team of volunteers and a network with diverse partners. This contributes to the authentic identity feeling of the festival and gives a special charm and force to the event.

The central program takes place at Watou, from Wednesday 9 tot Sunday 13 May 2018. The pre-ouvertures at Houtkerque, (French Flanders) Grimbergen, Poperinge, Koksijde, Antwerp, Brussels, Dunkirk, Wervik and Haringhe provide a substantial foretaste from Friday 4th May onwards.

For the four central auditions each choir is given a fixed program to perform. Here a repertoire will be offered that hasn’t been sung for some 900 years, the scores of which have been sleeping in abbeys and library archives.

The programs for the afternoon and evening concerts are filled alternatively with gregorian chant and beautiful music developed from the gregorian repertoire.

Gregorian chant is liturgical chant first of all. So it is self-evident that gregorian liturgy forms one of the pillars of the festival, next to auditions and concerts.

Encounter, heartiness and an atmosphere of happiness and friendship form a harmonious unity during this ten day long festival, together with the heavenly voices, the musicality and the breathtaking mysticism, so typical of gregorian chant.

Festival 2018 in a nutshell  

 30 events in 10 days

  • 20 in Watou (core events) | 10 in nine partner locations
  • 13 concerts | 4 auditions | 12 liturgical celebrations | 1 workshop

 26 ensembles

  •  21 from abroad | 5 from Belgium
  •  15 different countries | 4 continents
  •  2 boys choirs| 3 girls choirs | 12 men choirs | 9 ladies choirs            
  • 10 professional ensembles | 6 semi- professional ensembles
  • 5  youth choirs from music institutions | 5 gregorian choirs

 9 partner cities

Houtkerque | Grimbergen | Poperinge | Koksyde | Antwerp | Brussels | Dunkerque | Wervik | Haringe