WaanVlucht (“escaping madness”)
A choral project about desertion as part of the commemoration of the Great War
The Brussels Brecht-Eislerkoor has initiated a choral project devoted to desertion that is part of a larger project in collaboration with the peace movement. Soldiers have always sung, as have peace activists. There are, of all times and of all countries, a surprising number of songs on desertion and against the war, and more specifically songs and poems that date from the time of the Great War. An ambitious choral project of international standing, that brings to attention the resistance to war and desertion of many soldiers is perfectly in place as part of the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War. The Brussels Brecht-Eislerkoor earned his stripes in organizing major choral events by organizing in 2009 several performances of The Shouting Fence, a cantata for large choir with 300 singers from 10 choirs from all over Belgium, 10 soloists and two percussionists (music by Richard Chew and Orlando Gough).
We chose as title for the peace project WaanVlucht, a Dutch word game that combines Waanzin (madness) and vaandelVlucht (desertion). The choral project itself has a provisional working title "Ode to the deserter." At the International Peace day 2014 and 2015, this is on 09.21.2014 and on 20.9.2015, two large choral events are planned. Between these dates, concerts and local initiatives are encouraged. We hope Belgian and foreign choirs will feel free to make their own contribution to this project. Existing international peace and desertion songs may be refreshed and a new composition for choir on, or inspired by poems from the time of WWI will be provided for.
1) At the International Peace Day, September 21, 2014, a choral project will be organized in collaboration with the Kaaiteater, a large theaterhouse situated in a distric of Brussels that bears traces of the First World War. Choirs from Belgium will perform in the three parts of the country - namely Messines, Eben-Emael and Brussels - and will be digitally connected to eachother. Karibu and Novecanto (Ghent), Kontrarie (Leuven), Omroerkoor (Hasselt) and C’est des Canailles (Liege) have already expressed their interest. Contacts have also been made with choirs of the Netherlands (Jan en Alleman, Tegen de Wind Mee), France (La Bande à Rosa, Amiens), Britain and Germany in order to have"artistic interventions" simultaneously in a symbolic place (e.g. at a monument dedicated to deserters).
2) The project will have its closure September 20, 2015 with the world premiere of the "Ode to the deserter," an international peace song and tribute to war resistance. In countries that took part in the great war, choral concerts may be organized subsequently for 12 (?) hours. The new pacifist piece will be performed everywhere and broadcasted live via streaming video at Kaaitheater in Brussels. Everything can be followed anywhere in the world via the internet. Contacts have already been made with choirs from Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia and with choirs of our neighboring countries. The international network choralnet.org makes its channels available to contact other choirs from countries who lost soldiers in the trenches.
3) Between these two major choral events, we welcome local concerts by participating choirs, e.g. :
- On the occasion of the commemoration of the Mesener Christmas truce in 1914 (December 2014)
- As part of an international colloquium in Brussels (Spring 2015)
- To support an initiative for the rehabilitation of executed deserters
- In Belgium, for example, in collaboration with the "martyr cities"
For this choral project, the Brussels Brecht-Eislerkoor has cooperation agreements with the following partners: the Kaaiteater Brussels, the association Lahaag (for internet streaming), Messines Peace Village, Karibu (Ghent), Kontrarie (Leuven), ChoralNet (for international contacts). We requested the cooperation of the Brussels Dichterscollectief (an international poetry group based in Brussels) . The following artists have now agreed to collaborate: Frederic Rzewski (composer), Ruud Gielens (director), Geert Buelens (author of the international anthology of war poetry from the Great War "In het slijk geplant", planted in the mud) and Geert Aertsen (videographer and webartist in lahaag.org).
c/o 108 rue Antoine Baeck
Head of choir: Lieve Franssen
Chair: Sabine Verlinden