Programmering binnen thema's

Concerts for the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht are selected along the lines of one or more themes. Please note: plans are always liable to change. The Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht is getting shape two years in advance. It is wise to present your plans well ahead (with exceptions for the fringe programme).

Festival 2025: Museumkunst? / 29 August - 7 September

Museums are not as timeless as they seem. Although there is a long European tradition of collecting, researching, and displaying valuable objects, it was only during the Enlightenment that the idea of making such collections accessible to the general public took hold. Museums now strive actively to promote diversity, interactivity and glocal involvement. How does this history of the museum’s development relate to that of music? How has music been notated, preserved, passed on and shared (or kept secret) over the centuries? And can we consider the modern concert hall as the equivalent of a museum?

With the rise of museums came an immediate criticism of curators, as well as the criteria they used in forming such collections. Some dismissed the museum canon as conservative and lifeless, claiming that ‘progressive’ or ‘current’ art lived outside the museum. The term Museumkunst was therefore used mockingly to denote old-fashioned art that perhaps deserved to be preserved, but which was otherwise meaningless to contemporary society. We ask ourselves the same question about music: has the art music of past centuries become Museumkunst? Much past repertoire was functional music, which we have now disconnected from its original purpose: we move sacred music to the secular concert hall, while repertoire that originally served political or civil goals is now performed as background music. Have we thereby cut the lifeline of these pieces, or is the case altogether more complex?

By playing with these ideas, this festival edition seeks to curate new listening experiences and promote a rich variety of early music sounds. We investigate the effects of psychoacoustics and what space interacts with musical experience. We make sensory connections, multidisciplinary, which we not only bring together rationally, but also with ‘magical’ analogies in color, shape, and sound.

Clichés belong to the canon: these we welcome, but then with a twist. We will explore the art of collecting itself by examining the formation of musical collections in past centuries, from choir books and chansonniers, to keyboard compendia such as the Düben Collection and the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, to the large Denkmäler editions of Bach and Handel from the 19th century. Moreover, attention to the political motives behind the collections is welcomed. We explore music collections formed by individual composers: J.S. Bach, for example, created his own musical monument by collecting pieces composed by family members. The musical equivalents of the Kunstkabinett (the cabinet of curiosities) such as musical games and rarities, will also find their place.

Festival 2026: Giving Voice / 28 August - 6 September

“Les voix humaines” – “human voices” – is the title of one of the most famous works by French baroque composer Marin Marais. He, however, does not represent the voice in song, but on the strings of the viola da gamba. This wonderful paradox immediately outlines this festival theme: since time immemorial, music has been nothing more than letting the human voice be heard: but this happens in ever new ways, in the greatest variety, and certainly not only in singing.

We constantly encounter voices in the history of music. People speak, shout, sing; they use their body, instruments and objects as a voice. Voices can communicate equally, as in Franco-Flemish polyphony or are hierarchically organized as in the 18th-century Baroque. Not everyone always gets a voice, however. For a long time, women were forbidden to be heard in the Catholic Church. Instead, voice was given to those who had the right to sing: boy sopranos or castrated men.

Raising your voice is not always a friendly affair: you can disagree with each other; you can argue with each other; you can wage war. The dimming of voices is a proven tactic. There are countless descriptions from 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in which ‘ugly’ voices from enemy nations and ‘beautiful’ voices from the mother country are pitted against each other. And some voices have grown barely audible, like those of enslaved individuals or oppressed communities. Yet traces are often preserved in melodies, rhythms and songs. Sometimes we can make these voices audible again.

The repertoire for the voice is endless. We will examine the masque, from the Burgundian court to the Tudors, as well as the semi-operas of Blow and Purcell. How do we understand the complex relationship between vocal and instrumental music? Everything starts with the voice, and instrumental music comes later. Instruments are supposed to imitate voices, as we read in the Renaissance and Baroque. Yet this relationship was often reversed.

The burning question is that of the ‘Early Music Voice’: how was singing done in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque? Will we ever come close to understanding that? And that’s without even mentioning the lost castrato voice. What happens when the voice must be - or chooses to be - silent? The sister disciplines this year are theatrical: declamation, dance and gesture. We breathe new life into pantomime, the genre where the voice is replaced by physical movement.

Many young people find it difficult to connect to Early Music because a significant part of the repertoire has a religious origin. What happens when we supply this music with new texts? Or when the audience itself generates alternative texts?

Festival 2027: Humanism / 27 August - 5 September

In 1956, the German sculptor Erich Reischke engraved the sentence ‘We are not yet human in the humanistic sense’ in a marble block. With this, he summarized the core of European thinking of the past 700 years: humanism is a utopia. Humanism, from the Italian early Renaissance to Erasmus, does something monstrous: it places the human being at the center - the human as he ideally could and should be.

But do the ideals of humanism apply to everyone? For the movers and shakers in the Renaissance, it was no problem to exclude many: women, defeated peoples, foreign nations. Emperors and kings were crowned and wars were waged in the name of humanism. These contradictions have been repeatedly criticized: the utopian potential of the Reformation and later the Enlightenment was confronted with its own failure. It does not prevent humanism from constantly questioning the status quo, with the ambitious intention of doing better tomorrow.

We investigate the theme of humanism in the Renaissance and in the 18th century, the age of Enlightenment. For the Renaissance, we focus on the musical interpretations of the works of Petrarch and Petrarchism in general. The sister discipline this year is literature. We involve the (musical) writings of Erasmus, who – according to anecdote – sang in the choir of the Utrecht cathedral under the direction of Jacob Obrecht. Although there is no evidence for this, the idea invites us to color Erasmus’ thoughts about music with the soundtrack of his life. Our journey leads through the poverty of his youth with ‘low’ or folk culture, his life as a canon with Dutch church music and his journeys to England and on the continent. We also pay attention to his vision of religious tolerance, which leads to the Reformation and a new kind of church music.

Thinking and emotion come together in the Enlightenment: for the humanism of the 18th century we think of Jean-Philippe Rameau, who so wanted to be a philosophe. Older repertoire is covered with music from the Modern Devotion. This late medieval movement, a civil religious initiative, emphasized individuality, ethical behavior and a more direct connection with faith, and paved the way for later reform movements.

Festival 2028: Citizens! / 25 August - 3 September

In ancient Greece and Rome, the status of free citizen was the central legal position in the community. Citizens enjoyed rights and took responsibility. The fact that there were also unfree people, alongside extreme wealth and dictators who placed themselves above others, clouds the picture. But the inspiring power of the citizen community remains intact. For more than 2500 years, the democratic ideal has been weighed and considered. At the same time, it has been threatened from all sides, even to this day.

In the Middle Ages, there were citizen communities in the rich Hanseatic cities, from Bruges to Hamburg. They dominated maritime trade in the North, while Italian city-states in Tuscany and Veneto controlled the South. This led to the emergence of banking and modern administration. With the successful uprising of the Swiss cantons against the Habsburg Empire, a citizen state was established for the first time in modern times. The struggle for freedom in the Netherlands, the English Glorious Revolution, and the French Revolution can be seen as the ultimately successful history of the self-confidence of the bourgeoisie, who settled accounts with the rule of aristocratic families and clans.

Much of the old music that has been handed down comes from aristocratic or religious circles. As a result, it is the music that resounded in cathedrals and palaces that is most often heard on our stages. This is anything but a representative reflection of the musical life of the past. With this festival, we let other sounds be heard: those of city pipers in the service of the civic administration, or of musicians who represented bourgeois society at official occasionsin the independent city-states in Italy, or of republics like the Netherlands. Citizens made music to confirm their status and to fulfill the civil virtues that legitimized society and held it together. Making music together is nothing less than an expression of civil equality.

This festival edition will have a strong Dutch accent, with a focus on the complex Golden Age. The repertoire of the Meistersänger, bourgeois poets and singers in the 15th and 16th centuries, will also come alive. We explore the bourgeois opera, from its origin in the Republic of Venice with Monteverdi and Cavalli to the Opera am Gänzemarkt in Hamburg with Keiser and Mattheson. We pay tribute to the forgotten greatness Telemann. The Abendmusiken of Tunder and later of Buxtehude in Hanseatic city Lübeck were an extraordinary phenomenon of bourgeois concerts in the religious space. The emergence of commercial bourgeois concert life in the 18th century also will enjoy our attention, think of the pleasure gardens and the oratorios of Handel in England, or the Concert Spirituel in Paris.

Presenting your programme

If you have never performed in the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht or the Festival Oude Muziek Tournees before, please send us a message to first, and if we ask you to, send a demo (cd or dvd only), a biography and one or more programme proposals.

Our address is:

Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht
t.a.v. Programmering
Plompetorengracht 4
3512 CC Utrecht
The Netherlands

It is impossible to reply to every proposal in detail. If we are interested in your ensemble or programme, we will contact you. Please address direct inquiries about programming to