Breathtaking stillness: Flanders Festival Ghent and ART’uur for Festivals for Compassion

The cultural sector has been severely impacted by the coronavirus since last March. There was— and still is—great solidarity among artists and organisations who have refused to give up and worked hard to develop alternatives.

In June 2020, the Wonderfeel initiative ‘Festivals for Compassion’ was established to spread this solidarity with everyone affected by coronavirus in whatever way.

For this virtual festival that reaches beyond Belgium’s borders, the Greek-Dutch Calliope Tsoupaki pianist wrote the haunting composition ‘Thin Air’ as a tribute to the empathy and togetherness that we have shown en masse during the coronavirus crisis.

“…we are all allowed to be sad together. We are allowed to acknowledge that this period has triggered traumatic experiences, although we may prefer to walk away from these now. Our whole life, or what we thought our life was, has suddenly vanished into thin air.”
Calliope Tsoupaki

In the meantime, the work has been performed by some 57 musicians and is travelling like a musical baton from festival to festival throughout Europe and beyond.  

Flanders Festival Ghent have enlisted the musical duo ART’uur, the coupling of marimba virtuoso Koen Plaetinck and trumpeter Wim Van Hasselt. With bugle and marimba, they transport you on a night-time stroll through a desolate and hushed Ghent.

▸ Click here to watch and listen to ART’uur's arrangement of ‘Thin Air
▸  Click here to see all the other existing interpretations of Thin Air

Arrangement and performance: ART’uur
Flugelhorn: Wim Van Hasselt
Vibraphone & electronica: Koen Plaetinck
Director: Lieven Van Hove