A fascination with timbre, a quest for beauty, and the irresistible urge to make music with like-minded souls: this is the motivation of the musicians of Anima Eterna Brugge. Alongside pleasure in playing and enthusiasm, professionalism and optimal preparation are essential: Anima Eterna Brugge is primarily an orchestra that brings together the finest musicians in each section. Its variable forces – up to a maximum of eighty-three players – consist entirely of specialists with total mastery of the chosen instrumentarium.

With quality as the supreme criterion, its conductor, Jos van Immerseel draws on more than three centuries of orchestral repertory, from Mozart to Orff, with a special fondness for the masters of Classicism and Romanticism. Music of genius, which – however famous it may be – always contains an element of surprise in a reading by Anima Eterna Brugge, thanks to thorough preliminary investigation of the sources, the instruments, and the performing conventions. Anima’s role in giving a new lease of life to the mainstream repertory involves going back to the sources, shedding excess ballast, and sending back into the world music that is incredibly good, pure, fresh, as if reborn! As it strives to accomplish this mission, three beacons keep the orchestra firmly on course: the masterpieces which it wishes to serve by getting as close as possible to the ideal interpretation; the instruments which hold the access codes to the composer’s world; and the sonic result that is presented to you, dear public: not the resonance of a hall, the manifestation of an orchestra or the visiting card of a conductor, but the true sound of a score and its creator.

How & why…?

Anima Eterna’s vision is based on two pillars: yesterday’s art and today’s interpretation. The composer’s ideas and the (original) sources in which they have been recorded serve as the starting point. The conductor sets out on the trail of the composer in order to collect the necessary material – from scores to handwritten notes and secondary literature – and distil from them a ‘reading’ that reflects the composer’s intentions as closely as possible. Inseparably bound up with this is the choice of instruments: a composer wrote for the instruments, sounds and tones that he knew. Getting as close as possible to this starting position represents an excellent approach to exploring the musical result that the composer must have intended.

Sophisticated instrumentation is therefore something of a hobbyhorse for conductor Jos van Immerseel. Fortunately, Anima Eterna Brugge consists entirely of like-minded musicians, who are just as passionate about and fascinated by the quest for the ideal instruments. They have no hesitation in conducting this search themselves, testing out different options, weighing up the possibilities patiently and pouncing when an attractive instrument becomes available!

As well as suitable instruments, a good source text is indispensable; a good critical edition often provides welcome pointers, but additional research, annotations, transcripts and explanations are usually also needed to fill out the picture.

The instruments and the score – with particular attention to tempos, dynamics and acoustic aspects – are stepping stones towards a performance à la Anima. In its basic approach, transparency, expression and articulacy, the result is often a considerable surprise for music lovers, colleagues, critics and – to be honest – the musicians themselves: where the music is able to speak for itself, a unique voice is invariably heard which – freed from under a layer of dust, additions, adaptations and interpretations – turns out to have a different sound and new power!

Three-way traffic

The freshness that masterpieces recover from this approach is reflected in the magic that emanates from Anima Eterna Brugge performances. That magic, that spark is there at every concert, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of our musicians. But the commitment of the concert organisers to creating ideal performance conditions and the keen interest taken by you, our audience, also help ensure our ability to feel and project the joy, excitement and surprise of a first performance every time.

Music-making at Anima Eterna Brugge is thus essentially a three-way process: from composer to musicians, from musicians to audience, and from audience back to the orchestra: we have the pleasure of welcoming you to our performances, and you reward us by rediscovering masterpieces and ensuring their continued existence. In this way we turn ‘classical music’ into our music and your music.