An important explanation for the lasting success of the Watou Festival is the diversity and the quality of the participating scholas, the varied and interesting program and the cooperation with ten partner cities and the culturally active people in each of these cities. In 2018, 27 ensembles and scholas, 22 of which from abroad, will be participating: boys and girls choirs, men and women scholas. Each of them belongs to the top ensembles in their respective countries. No less than 7 of them come to Watou for the first time.
From a musicological viewpoint gregorian chant is gaining ground. Most choirs which will be participating are professional or semi-professional ensembles formed at musical institutions. Twenty of them are professional ensembles, or are at home in conservatoria and music centers. This raises the global musical level considerably.
In 2018 five youth choirs will be participating: Pueri Cantores from Korea, Cantate et Jubilate from Budapest, the 'Choristers of St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir Sydney' (Australia), the Puha Miikaeli Poiste Choir from Estonia and the Cantamare Vocal Ensemble from the Netherlands.
The gregorian repertoire may be 'centuries old', singing and listening to it is surprisingly young.
On the one hand people in Belgium and abroad are rediscovering the meditative power and the sublimity of gregorian chant.
On the other hand the quality of the ensembles on both amateur and professional level is heightening rapidly and constantly. In numerous institutions the analysis and study of the old manuscripts is intense. The result of this research is then applied in the choir practice of numerous new ensembles who practice gregorian chant and early polyphony.
The organizers of the Festival are attentive to both these phenomena and they have started an international meeting and presentation forum where these musicological fruits and the new interpretive approach can be presented to the general public.
In this way the International Festival of Watou has gained a special position which is unequaled in any other place.