"Following the dissolution some of the former Belgian francophone Radiotelevision Symphonic Orchestra in the nineties, some of its musicians, with very few means, decided to come together to support young talents and, of course, leading Belgian composers", explains its founder Jacques Vanherenthals as he relaxes in his living room. Frédéric van Rossum, Michel Lysight, Robert Janssens or Max Vandermaesbrugge, master composers of Belgian polytonal and neotonal music, have shined on scenarios thanks to the orchestra in which "veteran musicians sponsor and advise promising young people until they take over". It's an original model that not even the Brussels Youth Orchestra follows".
High ceilings, oriental furniture, artistic carpets and the beating of the proverbial Belgian morning rain. A calm atmosphere for he who has directed the EOB since 1994 and has decided to celebrate it with a return to its origins: as in the first season, Haydn bursts forth, gloriously, with his Creation, on 24 and 26 October in the Brussels Royal Conservatory, in the company of The European Union Choir. At a later date, on 28 February 2015, and in the grand hall of the Brussels BOZAR auditorium, the EOB will bring together two outstanding choirs on the Belgian scene, The Brussels Choral Society and The European Union Choir, in order to perform for the first time in Belgium the Requiem of the master of romanticism Giovanni Bottesini: 185 choristers and 65 instrumentalists on stage. READ MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT (in French)
"I must admit that it's a nod to myself", sums up Vanherethals, who is also a double bass player, when referring to this second event. "Bottesini was a great double bass player and one of the rare composers who, throughout history, brought us a little recognition". Considered as the Paganini of the double bass, the Italian was led to this instrument at 14 years old through necessity and it brought him prestige. Curiously, Jacques Vanherethals, a "self-taught pianist", took the initiative at 16 years old "because it the double bass player section was the most needy". At twenty years old, our partner had already won prizes and at twenty four he had signed up with the Antwerp Opera.
Today, however, there are major obstacles that prevent from making one's place in professional classical music. "For every double bass player place there are auditions for 150 hopefuls!", says he who was Director at intermediary conservatory level. It is not in vain that the EOB has seen its annual budget reduced by up to 40% in the last years. This non-profit initiative survives thanks to the volunteerism of its directors and the sponsorship of the Belgian man and woman on the street. Only the musicians get paid for each concert and the efficient organisation that allows them to perform some 20 times a year with a management budget of only 20.000 euros, is surprising. Will it keep going? Vanherenthals feels in good shape and ready for at least another five years. Whilst he and his musicians continue to enchant with their music, there will be an orchestra for a while yet.
"When I attend to a concert, I listen to music differently from how I do when I lead the concert. But of course, musicians do loose concentration sometimes marveled by the music we are playing."