With the much anticipated renovation of the 1939 built Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel due to begin soon, Owen Stafford took a visit to the picturesque, culturally rich and historic site where he spoke to Bernard de Launoit and Auriane de Fauconval. Aired on Radio X, both Bernard (President of the Executive Committee) and Auriane (overseer of Communications and Media Relations) were able to give an overall picture of QEMC, and how this exceptional music facility operates.
Having started out as a school aimed at local Brussels musicians in the 1930s, the training programme has since been extended to welcome international students who are keen to be intercalated into high level performance and technique. Bernard de Launoit explained how it is their aim to “…have a school more open, flexible and international.” The great level of teaching from still successful and professional musicians that QEMC offer, has attracted students from all over the world to have the chance to study at Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel.
Auriane de Fauconval describes the level of community that is felt at QEMC: “for lunch we all [eat] together… teachers, masters, staff, and students… the students feel like they are at home.” The facilities have already been adapted so that the students experience musical freedom at the school such as the ability to practice as and when they can night or day. As Owen amusingly remarks, the students can be “night owls” in practice if they wish.
This free and “very intimate kind of atmosphere” observed by Owen at QEMC, is soon to be extended to still more students with the up and coming changes planned for the premises. While remaining in keeping with the historic nature of the listed grounds, with features such as the balcony where Queen Elisabeth of Brussels enjoyed observing and listening to the students, the school is planning to create more facilities, which will double student capacity. Hoping to have the project finished in 14 months, there are plans to build more residential rooms, music rooms which Bernard notes are “very important for teaching and training”, and another concert hall for concerts, recording and rehearsing with small orchestras.
This huge project will be an exciting growth for students, staff and music lovers alike as it strengthens and grows classical musicians into the future.