polyphonic Marian Vespers at the time of Albrecht and Isabella

Cast: Utopia & Bart Jacobs

Music from Josquin, Palestrina, De Morales, Lassus, De Victoria, Dering, Philips and Gombert


Marian devotion has a great tradition in Flanders. The many chapels along the roads, the impressive Onze Lieve Vrouwkerken, - basilicas and -cathedrals, processions, songs and even Maria's sweets and cookies are proof of this. In the 16th century, this attention for Mary increased with the presence of the Spaniards in our regions: under the impulse of the Spaniards, the Basilica of Our Lady was built in Scherpenheuvel and the statue of Mary was given a prominent place in the niche on the facade of the Antwerp town hall .

Maria was therefore a popular subject for Spanish and Flemish composers from the 16th century. Utopia put together her own Marian Vespers with unique motets from this oeuvre. Beautiful psalms and antiphones, in combination with the well-known lyrics from the Song of Songs, composed by Spanish and Flemish composers.


musicus sine controversia excellentissimus


Cast: Utopia (a capella)

Music from Josquin, Mouton and Gombert


Josquin Des Prez is celebrated in 2021, his date of death being 500 years ago.
Josquin was the greatest composer of his time and, partly due to his high age, he could be an enormous influence on the following generations of composers.
“No other composer in the 16th century has been imitated so frequently and over such a long period, no other has had such a far-reaching general stylistic influence, and no other composer has served as a model for the accumulated oeuvre of many generations later. "(MGG)

This program focuses on a few five-part motets as well as gems from influenced composers.


Missa 'Ad te levavi oculos meos'

Cast: Utopia (a capella)

Music from De Monte and De Rore


On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Phillipus De Monte, Utopia honours this great composer, who sometimes wrongly stands in the shadow of his contemporaries. De Monte is primarily known for its madrigals, where it seeks a very experimental and expressive style. Utopia, however, highlights a beautiful mass from 1587, Missa Ad te levavi oculos meos, based on the motet of Cypriano De Rore, which was composed twenty years earlier. Utopia places motets around this mass, in combination with De Monte's most beautiful architectural creations.


paintings translated musically

Cast: Utopia (a capella), or with Arnaud Vande Cauter, organ

Music from Lassus, Gombert, Crecquillon, Janequin, de Rore and Sweelinck.

Pieter Bruegel is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating painters from the 16th century Netherlands. No one else painted nature so precisely and forcefully, the course of the seasons, the human being in his popular habitat. But he was also a master in brushing surreal characters or situations à la Jeroen Bosch, with or without religious overtones. His eye for detail and accuracy still surprises many a museum visitor. Famous collectors such as Emperor Rudolf II had already created a whole collection of Bruegel's works by the end of the sixteenth century. But also rich citizens, art collectors from Antwerp and Brussels bought his works.


With "Bruegel" Utopia brings a varied anthology of music from Bruegel's time. In compiling this program, Utopia was inspired by the paintings "The Triumph of Death", "The Tower of Babel", "The Fall of the Rebellious Angels", "Peasant Wedding" and "The Fight between Lent and Lent." Using compositions by contemporaries and local people, Utopia wants to create an atmospheric portrait of Bruegel and bring the different "layers" of his character back to life. For example, it was recently discovered through infrared photography that Dulle Griet originally protruded her tongue. Bruegel subsequently decided to paint only strict lip contours. With "Bruegel", Utopia brings a fascinating concert without self-censorship: folk songs, in contrast with religious works and devotees or some bawdy love songs, give the facets of our grandmaster of the canvas a new colour.


Inspired by Rubens’ "DISPUTE"

Cast: Utopia and organ (+ two storytellers)

Music from Philips, Palestrina, Dering, Cornet

Inspired by the painting "The Dispute, or the Talk about the Holy Sacrament" by P.P. Rubens, Utopia put together a program with mainly work by the English composer Peter Philips (ca. 1560-1628). Philips was an exile because of his Catholic faith. At the end of the 16th century he ended up in Antwerp.

In addition to five-part motets by Palestrina, Dering and Philips, Utopia also presents two- part and three-part motets from Philips' "Paradisus Sacris Cantionibus" from 1628, his latest edition.
Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder immortalized "Pietro Philippi Inglese" with his sheet music on their painting from 1617 "The Hearing" ("El Oido"), to be admired in the Prado in Madrid. Did the painters know Peter Philips personally? Did they meet at the court of Albrecht and Isabella? Music intendant of St Paul's Church in Antwerp, Wilfried Van den Brande and guide Armand Storck tell you the story of this fascinating composer and his era during this concert.

This program is presented in two versions:
a concert with or without telling the story of Peter Philips in Antwerp.


Passionate madrigals from the early 17th century

Cast: Utopia & Korneel Bernolet, harpsichord & Thomas Baeté, viola da gamba

Music from De Wert, Monteverdi, Willaert and Marenzio


In this program, Utopia highlights the great "Mantuan" composers De Wert and Monteverdi. Jacques de Wert, born in Weert (Antwerp), was active in Italy for most of his life. In Mantua he was the mentor of the great Claudio Monteverdi. With De Wert as a pioneer, Monteverdi made the switch from polyphony to the early baroque, where text expression and effect prevail over the musical line. The love madrigals in this program, including "Lamento della Ninfa", take you on an expressive journey between desire and sorrow.


Lamentationes in triduum sacrum

Cast: Utopia (a capella)

Music from De Morales, Josquin, Tubal, Weerbeke and Gregorian chant

In 2016, Utopia premiered the 7 lamentations of Cristóbal de Morales. These beautiful lamentations, set by one of the greatest Spanish polyphonists, cry out the destruction of Jerusalem in Biblical poetry.

For this renewed concert program, Utopia places four of Morales' lamentations within the "Triduum Sacrum". The tidal liturgy is given a special interpretation in these three days. The "matins" (matutinae), the first tide in the very early morning, consists of three nocturnes. Every night consists of short antiphones, psalms, sung readings (during the "Triduum Sacrum" these are the Lamentations) and the so-called responsories. In addition to the Lamentations you will hear plainchant from the "Passionarum Toletanum". Furthermore, Utopia selected a psalm and some response lines from work by Josquin Desprez and Gaspar van Weerbeke, predecessors of Morales at the papal court chapel, and Adriaen Tubal, a contemporary of Morales and working in Italy and Antwerp.

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