The Alamire Foundation in Rome and the Vatican


Josquin Conference, Rome © Alamire Foundation

16 April 2022

At the end of March, the Alamire Foundation went to the Vatican to celebrate some special anniversaries.

Once in a lifetime

500 years after the death of the Franco-Flemish polyphonist Josquin des Prez, we organized a two-day conference with international top scholars and musicians near the place where the composer spent several years of his career. This was followed by an academic assembly in the Campo Santo dei Teutonici e dei Fiamminghi, an exclusive visit to the Sistine Chapel, where Josquin sang from the cantoria (the small balcony with a built-in music stand), and a concert given by Cappella Pratensis in the Chiesa di Santo Stefano degli Abissini, the oldest church in the Vatican City.

This event was also a symbolic moment for the Alamire Foundation: exactly ten years ago our fruitful collaboration with the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana began. The Alamire Digital Lab then started the digitization of beautifully illuminated music manuscripts from the Low Countries. These 14,000 images have since been fully studied by the Foundation's team and can now be consulted digitally on the Integrated Database for Early Music. A memorable moment.

Josquin on

The Alamire Foundation also celebrated its 30th anniversary in Vatican City, the ideal occasion to launch a number of new projects. The brand new digital platform presents film productions about polyphony and Gregorian chant. MISSE JOSQUIN, the twelve-part docu-concert series on Josquin's mass repertoire, introduced during Laus Polyphoniae 2021, is the first and is now available to watch online. 

In the presence of the Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, the Rector of KU Leuven Luc Sels, the Flemish Representative in Italy Geert De Proost, and the gathered international press, the first copy of this series on DVD was handed over to His Holiness Pope Francis. General Director Bart Demuyt informed Pope Francis that some of these beautiful polyphonic mass compositions were commissioned by one of his illustrious predecessors. The Flemish Minister-President rightly called the visit 'a once in a lifetime moment'. The Flemish radio Klara and the evening TV news Het Journaal provided an extensive report.

Finally, the urbs aeterna also saw the premiere of the new label Alamire Foundation Editions, which in collaboration with Passacaille aims to bring unknown musical heritage from the Low Countries to the general public.

Watch the full report and an interview with Bart Demuyt: