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The Belgian pianist with more than 80 official albums published since 1982, presents Voice of the Living in the Heart of the Sonic Landscape of Bruges.

 

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Wim Mertens is the kind of composer who, even without enjoying conventional fame, is widely recognized, and his performances fill every seat in every venue where he appears. His captivating minimalist techniques, combined with a romantic touch (without being overly sentimental), resonate among serious music enthusiasts as well as conventional listeners. On January 24, in the charming city of Bruges, Belgium, Wim Mertens will offer a unique musical experience that transcends borders.

Born in 1953 in Neerpelt, Mertens pursued academic studies in social and political sciences and musicology at the universities of Leuven and Ghent. He immersed himself in music theory and piano at the Ghent Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, laying the foundations for his multifaceted career. In addition to his musical achievements, Mertens is the author of American Minimal Music, a comprehensive exploration of the American school of repetitive music, featuring works by LaMonte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.

In 1978, he became a producer at BRT, presenting concerts of influential artists such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. His foray into experimental music included collaboration with Gust De Meyer on the album For Amusement Only.

 

 

Regarding his musical evolution, Mertens gained recognition in the 1980s with the soundtracks for The Belly of an Architect and Maximizing the Audience. These, more than being his pinnacle works, serve as the ideal introduction to his oeuvre. His style has evolved from experimental roots towards minimalism, maintaining a distinctive melodic foundation. His work can be categorized into compositions for ensembles, solo piano and voice pieces, and experimental minimalist cycles; rhythmic repetitions, simple motifs, and a straightforward harmonic structure. In Mertens’ case, his experimental minimalist cycles often involve compositions that explore these minimalist characteristics in a more complex and experimental manner.

His career spans several decades and encompasses over sixty albums, primarily through Les Disques du Crépuscule. With EMI Classics (now Warner Classics), he reissued his entire catalog in 2007.

When Wim Mertens takes the stage in Bruges on January 24, we will be ready to listen to his classics and much of Heroides (2022), and, more significantly, his latest work, Voice of the Living (2023), a tribute to the victims of World War I, avoiding the typical dramatic tones of a requiem. It offers a unique perspective through his musically expressive approach, blending minimalism and Flemish baroque. Whether you’re a seasoned music enthusiast or taking your first steps into this particular musical world, this concert is an opportunity to witness a musical master in action.

From ACHTUNG! we will delve deeper into the world of Wim Mertens with that performance in Bruges, possibly including an exclusive interview, where we will attempt to uncover the nuances of his compositions, the inspiration behind his music, and the impact he has had on the global music scene. Stay tuned!

 

Wim Mertens

24/01/24

Cultuurcentrum Brugge

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