Immerseel & Anima Eterna Brugge

Jos van Immerseel

Jos Van Immerseel was born in Antwerp and studied piano (under Eugène Traey), organ (Flor Peeters), harpsichord (Kenneth Gilbert), song (Lucie Frateur) and orchestral conducting (Daniel Sternefeld). In 1973, he won the first Paris harpsichord contest. His wide interests led him to the autodidactic study of organology, rhetoric and historical pianofortes.

In addition to giving masterclasses in Europe, America and Japan, he has also taught at the Scola Cantorum Basiliensis, the Conservatoire National Supérieure in Paris and the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. As a guest conductor he has led, amongst other ensembles, the Academy for Ancient Music in Berlin, the Vienna Academy and Musica Florea in Prague. During that time, he built up a unique collection of historical keyboards instruments which were cared for by him and which accompanied him to his concerts. In 1987, Jos van Immerseel formed his own ensemble, Anima Eterna, which gradually developed into a symphony project orchestra, always using historical instruments.

Since 2003, Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna have been in residence at the new Concertgebouw in Bruges. His solo and ensemble work, performed exclusively on and with historical instruments, is documented by more than 80 recordings (LP and CD) on the Accent, Channel Classics and Sony labels, among others. He is also in charge of the ‘Collection Anima Eterna’ for the Paris record label Zig-Zag Territoires.

In the early years, van Immerseel’s orchestra became widely known for its historical performance practice: the study of scores with an eye to textual reassessment and the use of original instruments in historically correct orchestration. This was music for connoisseurs who appreciated being offered new acces to a repertoire they thought they were already familiar with. The fact that this audience has continued to grow over the past 24 years is not only thanks to the scientific rigour with which each project is approached, and the skill of the musicians and their director, but ultimately to what they produce: the music, that is full of life and surprises.

Anima eterna brugge

Anima Eterna is a project orchestra which undertakes a new programme five or six times a year. This sparks off an intensive dialogue between the musicians and the artistic director. Nothing is taken for granted, everything is up for discussion and examination. What is written in the score, precisely? What exactly was the composer hearing at his desk, in his head? What is the ideal configuration of instruments and which conventions applied? How did a bassoon sound in those days? What opportunities for personal expression does the piece offer? All members of the group conspire together to uncover the secrets of the piece, each with his or her own expertise, instrument and personal relationship to the music. In this musical collaboration, magic is born. In the process, any possible discrepancy between artistic license and historical necessity disappears and Mozart comes into his own: the listener has the impression the composer himself can be heard at work.

The music of the nineteenth century too, which isless often approached in an historical fashion than that of the Baroque, is also brought to life in Anima Eterna Brugge’s laboratory.The ‘collection Anima Eterna’ on the French label Zig-Zag Territoires guarantees Anima Eterna Brugge an audience amongst ‘home listeners’, but whoever really wants to experience van Immerseel and his team bringing the blood back to the cheeks of Bach, Haydn and even Johann Strauss Jr., is advised to attend a live performance.

Since 2003 Anima Eterna Brugge is ‘orchestra in residence’ at the ‘Concertgebouw Brugge’ and an associate ensemble of Dijon Opera since 2010. The orchestra has recorded more then 40 recordings for Channel Classics, Sony and the French label Zig Zag Territoires.