New building for Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel

A prestigious school for young musicians is to undergo an extensive renovation that will see its current 1800m2 building almost double.

It will require a total of €11.5m to renovate and expand Belgium’s exclusive Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. So far €8.82m has been raised.

The Waterloo-based institution provides high-quality training in piano, violin, cello, chamber music and voice.

Executive director Bernard de Launoit told IAM: ‘This year we have 47 students, and the idea is not to have more than 60 or 70 after the expansion. The value then will be that we will give artists appropriate accommodation and working studios, and create the right conditions for what will be a good laboratory.’

Students accepted to the exclusive school develop their skills under the careful and watchful tutelage of six ‘masters’ including Augustin Dumay, Maria João Pires, José van Dam, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Gary Hoffman and the Artemis Quartet.

Continued Launoit: ‘If we find talent, but maybe not good performers, we can change that. The students know that we will work with them to put them on stage as much as we can, but in an appropriate way at the right moment for their careers.’

As part of their training, students perform with their master tutors at festivals and concert recitals. Under Launoit, who has presided over the establishment since 2004, the Chapel now stages 250 concerts per year, including no fewer than 30 abroad throughout England, Austria, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Russia and Japan, as well as a biannual international tour with the Sinfonia Varsovia.

The new building will take the form of an 80m long bar-like structure, that will complement the current art deco listed building and surrounding gardens.

Designed by project management firms L’Escaut and Synergy International, along with architects Olivier Bastin and Sébastien Cruyt, the grounds will be landscaped by architect Jean Noël Capart (JNC international), with acoustic solutions provided by Remy Raskin of Capri Acoustique.

The intention for the building is that it will provide a haven-like environment for the stars of the future. Operational costs are set at €2.5m per annum.

A particular feature is the synchronicity of architecture, acoustics, environment and landscape. A glass screen on the south façade will allow visibility inside the corridor and rehearsal rooms, or, when the weather changes a reflection of the grounds.

Artists’ studios will feature a mezzanine bedroom level and be equipped with a grand piano on the ground floor.

The renovation will provide state of the art rehearsal and concert space, a real recording studio featuring professional equipment from the Outhere group, two large rehearsal and concert studios, four rehearsal studios, 20 residential studios that will enable the Music Chapel to host up to 60 young artists in residence, and finally an Artist Global Village featuring a restaurant, kitchen area, lounge area, gym and relaxation area.

Artists-in-residence will also benefit from participating in Equinox, a social and artistic project that sees vocalists manage youth choirs in the poorer areas Brussels, under the artistic direction of Maria-Joao Pires.

The Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel was gifted to Queen Elisabeth by Count de Launoit in 1939, with the intention of raising the profile of exclusively Belgian musicians. It now accepts musicians from all over the world.