The 55th edition of the MAfestival, the internationally renowned festival for early music, pays tribute to the women

The 55th edition of the MAfestival, the leading festival for early music in Bruges, pays tribute to the women in music. Under the heading Cherchez la femme, the 2018 edition of the MAfestival scans early music on the lookout for the female voice. For ten days - from 3 to 12 August 2018 - female composers and musicians, but also writers, patronesses, muses and other iconic characters are at the center of the program

The program includes more than 20 concerts, the musical cycling tour through Bruges and the surrounding area VéloBaroque, an early music market, courses, lectures, a music holiday for kids and of course the international competition Musica Antiqua, this year focusing on the harpsichord.

Important names as Skip Sempé, Ensemble Correspondances and Elizabeth Kenny are combined with emerging talents such as Apotropaïk and Le Consort. The ties with laureates Betrand Cuiller, Jean Rondeau and Evgeny Sviridov are also cited. And the MAfestival combines Gregorian chant with pop in an adventurous creation by An Pierlé and Psallentes.

What originally came along as an inspiring festival theme, turned into an acutely felt social reality over the past months. Women speak out more than ever before, and they are upsetting the power relations of the patriarchy. It goes without saying that the latter is not possible without a fight.

The result is a festival with exceptional voices, of composers, performers, patrons, and muses. But also fictitious voices, articulated by men. Above all, they represent the voice of the modern woman, who more than ever breaks the silence.


MAfestival Brugge is an internationally renowned festival for early music, boasting a daring programme and an innovative outlook on tradition. Every summer, it presents and creates a wide range of activities in the historical setting of Bruges and its surroundings. These activities include a thematic concert series, grounded in a coherent and through-provoking dramaturgy; the prestigious International Competitions Musica Antiqua for young baroque soloists; a series of Fringe concerts for young and promising ensembles; a specialist exhibition of historical instruments; and the musical bikeride VéloBaroque. MAfestival cares about young artists and provides them with intense guidance by drawing on its wide international network. Run by a passionate team, the festival makes a difference through its original approach, embracing and inviting creative reflection on the role of early music in our modern world.

3-12 August 2018

More information and press requests:
Micha Pycke | Club Paradis
+32 (0)486 680 070

Festival director Tomas Bischop, festival dramaturge Katharina Lindekens and the artists are available for interviews. Please send your requests to Micha Pycke.

The theme for 2018: Cherchez la femme
For centuries, composing was a male occupation.Even today the word ‘composer’ – like ‘surgeon’ or ‘professor’ – conjures up a male stereotype. And still. In each era, women arose who were sufficiently stubborn and eager to write music, averse to all the social, cultural and economic constraints that were imposed on them. Each of them impressive personalities, who also profiled themselves as virtuoso performers. In baroque Italy, Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi thrived as singer-composers, while prioress Isabella Leonarda wrote music in a convent of Ursulines. 

Harpsichordist- composer Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre was immensely popular in 18th-century Paris. And although the 19th-century keyboard muses Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn played second fiddle to a man, they both devoted their life to music (each in her own way). Mélanie Bonis, in turn, called herself ‘Mel’ to publish her work. And Wanda Landowska (1879-1959) was unstoppable in her mission to (re) boost the harpsichord.

That women find it increasingly easy these days to claim their place in the musical world, is due to these pioneers, who could effortlessly compete with their male colleagues. Hence, the work of female composers deserves to be appreciated for its intrinsic, gender-blind value. MAfestival rolls out the red carpet for composers from Kassia to Kaija Saariaho, and allows their music to cross-polinate with the sounds of male predecessors, contemporaries and heirs.

You can read the full text of the festival dramaturge Katherina Lindekens here.

Press release MAfestival 2018

PDF - 73 Kb

Brochure MAfestival 2018

PDF - 7.8 Mb

Micha Pycke

Club Paradis | PR & Communications

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