Brussels Philharmonic | a visual Schönberg

a visual Schönberg


The mysterious Mélisande with her incredibly long hair, from Maeterlinck’s well-known stage play made her way into the minds of many composers around 1900. Even Arnold Schoenberg was charmed and wrote a stunning score about her eccentric love for Pelléas. The music portrays the sultry sensuality of the Viennese fin-de-siècle, exploring all facets of human emotion.

Lise Bruyneel (La fabrique des regards) designed an intimate video to accompany Schoenberg’s wordless work, bringing Pelleas, Golaud and Melisande to life. The video is where image and music come together, where artists and the audience meet:

“When I was a cellist, I translated scores into notes using my body and my instrument. Now, I translate them into images using my feelings and other techniques, but the artistic process remains fundamentally the same."

live in the concert hall

catch Lise Bruyneel and the Brussels Philharmonic live at the concert Another Mélisande at Flagey on 23 March 2024

[info & tickets]
[learn more about Lise Bruyneel]
[discover also: Close Encounters]

[discover also: Symfomania! XL]

seeing sound

I aim to present instrumental music in a contemporary way through video. It's important because music allows us to momentarily let go of our rational view of the world, to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It gives us access to a different awareness that can bring beauty, poetry, comfort, and gentleness.

The challenge - one I've been tackling for 10 years now - is to create a visual language that doesn't simply offer a flat film with music. Instead, I aim to complement the music, to enhance it in subtle ways. The images respond to the subtlety of the composition and provide visual support for listening. It helps the listener find a place for their own interpretation and experience their own emotions.

a visual score

First, the score is analysed musically using available literature, discussions with musicologists, and personal analysis. Then comes the development phase: I have to find the visual tone that fits the entire performance, forming the visual signature of the whole.

Then, bit by bit, I must find the right visual response to the music, the right sequences, the repetitions, the evolution of a language. I have to make the right artistic choices and prepare a very precise edit so that I can mix it live. This is the part that takes the longest, but also gives the project its soul and rhythm.

Live mixing

Music is rhythm. Live mixing is very important: during a concert, I follow the musicians or the conductor with a touchpad as an instrument. How the images move, how fast, how 'quiet', how they move together or not with the music, how the images can emphasise a musical moment or flow 'against the music'... all of this adds a deeper layer to the music.

During the concert, I control the projection live and use my touchpad as an instrument, along with the conductor, who remains completely free to play according to his inspiration of the day.

Ilan Volkov Astrid Ackermann0281

Programme notes: Another Mélisande

‘A musical omnivore’ or ‘guardian of contemporary music’, is how conductor Ilan Volkov is sometimes described. Internationally, he is regarded as a perceptive conductor who renders a clear and enthusiastic interpretation of the most complicated scores, from romantic repertoire to new creations. So the complex score of Schönberg’s Pelleas und Melisande is right up his alley. In this extensive symphonic poem, Schönberg (1874-1951) shaped the inner conflicts of the characters from Maeterlinck’s eponymous play in a tone language that falls just within the boundaries of tonality and romance.


Klarafestival: Another Mélisande · 23.03.2024 · Flagey

A forest, a castle and a love triangle between two half-brothers and an elusive girl: welcome to the misty universe of Pelléas et Mélisande. Arnold Schönberg transformed Maeterlinck’s symbolist masterpiece into a compelling symphonic poem.

There is no better answer to Mélisande’s mysterious silence than the work of the Croatian composer Mirela Ivicevic: rebellious, personal, rooted in the now. The Brussels Philharmonic premieres her new violin concerto, with Ilya Gringolts as soloist.