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maandag 30 december 2013

Mosae Musica

One day of masterclasses for young musicians under guidance of the coaches: Davy Deckmijn (percussion), Adrian Maruszczyk (Public-Peace - bass), Martin Rohdich (guitar), and Jacqueline Fijnaut (vocals)

The concept-idea of bringing young musicians together in “clinics” given by professionals succeeded. Especially the intention of an Euregional (international) setting. The maximum number (35) participants to be sheltered for just one day was reached with youngsters from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The same for the coaches who came from Belgium, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands.

The whole idea behind it is “communication by music”, a borderless way of interacting between those youngsters and their instruments (in which we consider “vocals” as an instrument as well).

Thanks to the cooperation with the Muziekgieterij here in Maastricht and Public-Peace; Adrian Maruszczyk’s music initiative, Kultuur-Fabriek was able to organize its first bordercrossing event.

Because it had to be for and by youngsters we left the moderation in the capable hands of Jules Claessens, a young local who is not afraid to stand up and perform knitting the day together. He acted as a full speed host, telling the participants, and later during the evening the audience, what to expect.

At 9:30 the participants and coaches arrived, were divided into groups per instrument: percussion, guitar, bass, and vocal. Many of the youngsters never saw each other before, and yet they mingled as old classmates coming from diverse cultures and countries. They didn’t need a language; their instruments was talk and culture enough.

I wasn’t there for the whole day; went home to tell the world about it through Internet, while the participants followed their masterclasses hidden in sound-boxes to avoid disturbing each other during the “clinics”. Only percussion (drums) was acting in the main hall under guidance of Davy Deckmijn, where I listened a while to the beats and thrills.

It was the evening that had to proof if the day had worked, if the meltingpot of tunes had reached a performance level suitable for an audience. And the quality was high. Twenty songs beated the boxes and the surprised visitors who came to listen to so much and young musical talent. Time went too fast, the performances of such a high level that it seemed if they all didn’t do anything else in their lives but making music and telling us and each other stories through the gear they brought from home.

The follow-up of the acts went smooth, talked together by Jules who was definitely impressed, like me, by his fellows. One day is too short, but this was just the pilot of many more “clinics” to come, which will be spread over more days to give the participants the chance to write own songs, that will give the performance in the end even more authenticity. But still; who was not there last night, those who were not able to come, see and hear what happened, have certainly missed an enthusiastic and lively act that promises a lot for the future.

Happy new year to all off you, and make sure that you have some spare time in your agenda for the next Mosae Musica of Kultuur-Fabriek. We will inform you soon enough for our following event

dinsdag 24 december 2013

Snapshots of Hasselt (Belgium)

  • source Wikipedia

Hasselt is a Belgian city and municipality, and capital of the Flemish province of Limburg. Both the Demer river and the Albert Canal run through the municipality. Hasselt is located in between the Campine region, north of the Demer, and the Hesbaye region, south of it (Dutch Kempen and Haspengouw). It is also in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.

Hasselt was founded in approximately the 7th century on the Helbeek, a small tributary of the Demer river. The name Hasselt came from Hasaluth, which means hazel wood. During the Middle Ages, it became one of the bigger towns of the county of Loon, which had borders approximately the same as the current province of Limburg. Hasselt was first named in a document in 1165 and shortly thereafter received the much sought-after city charter. In 1232 this status was officially confirmed by Arnold IV, Count of Loon. Even though the city of Borgloon was the original official capital of Loon, Hasselt was to become the biggest city thanks to its favourable setting and to the proximity of the count’s castle and the Herkenrode Abbey in Kuringen. In 1366 the county of Loon became part of the Bishopric of Liège and remained so until the annexation by France in 1794.

During the First French Empire, after the French Revolution, Maastricht became the capital of the area that was then called the French Department of the Lower Meuse. This included both modern Belgian Limburg, and also neighbouring Dutch Limburg. After the defeat of Napoleon, in 1815, this whole area became part of a new United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and it was at this time that the name Limburg was adopted. King William wanted to keep the name of the old Duchy of Limburg alive although it had been centred in Limbourg on the Vesdre, and had never encompassed Hasselt. Even when Belgium gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1830, and the province of Limburg was definitively split between the Netherlands and Belgium in 1839, this name was retained and the name Loon disappeared. After the split, Hasselt became the provisional capital of the Belgian province of Limburg. When Maastricht stayed Dutch in 1839, it became the permanent seat of its provincial government within the Netherlands also called Limburg. In 1967, Belgian Limburg was detached from the Diocese of Liège and Hasselt became the seat of the Diocese of Hasselt.

The centre is mostly car-free and contains a number of historical buildings. Among the oldest buildings in the town centre are the St. Quentin's Cathedral (11th to 18th centuries) and the "Herkenrode Abbey refuge house" (1542). The "Grote Markt" (large central market square) and the nearby streets are lined with pubs, restaurants and taverns.

The Demerstraat and the Koning Albertstraat are the most important shopping streets. In the Kapelstraat and the Hoogstraat are expensive shops with the most famous brands. Another major religious building, besides the cathedral, is the Virga Jesse Basilica. The churches must cede domination of the skyline of the city to the modern twin towers of the "TT-wijk", however. In 2003, the renovation of this complex, now including a shopping mall and a hotel, gave the centre a new boost. In 2004, Hasselt was the first Flemish city to receive the title "most sociable city of Flanders", and has since claimed the title of "Capital City of Taste".

maandag 23 december 2013

Snapshots of the Albert Canal in the region Kanne, Vroenhoven, Veldwezelt

  • source Wikipedia
the canal, cut out in the Limburg marl hills

The Albert Canal is small and shallow, and located in northeastern Belgium, which was named for King Albert I of Belgium. It connects Antwerp with Liège, and also the Meuse River with the Scheldt River. Its total length is 129.5 kilometres (80.5 mi).
Vroenhoven, along the canal
During most of the 1930s, before the completion of the Albert Canal, it took about seven days to travel from Antwerp to Liege by water. In the 21st century, that same distance can be covered in about 18 hours.
Vroenhoven bridge
The Albert Canal was constructed from 1930 through 1939. The German construction company worked on the canal between 1930 and 1934, but then it was completed by Belgian companies.
Vroenhoven bridge
It was used for the first time in 1940, but because of World War II, it intensive use began later, in 1946.
view from above
During World War II, the Albert canal functioned as a defense line. It was used not only to defend part of Belgium, but it also became the northeastern arrondissements of France. The crossing of the canal by the Nazi German Wehrmacht and the destruction of theFort Eben-Emael on May 11, 1940, was a milestone in the German invasion of Belgium.
crossing ships
During the liberation of Belgium by foreign armies, in September 1944, the Second Canadian Division was the first Allied unit to cross the Albert Canal.  The British Army  also crossed the Albert Canal on its way north across Belgium and into The Netherlands, and the U.S. Army entered Belgium farther to the east on its way to liberate the rest of Belgium, and Luxembourg, and then proceed east to invade Nazi Germany. Hence, Belgium was liberated from the south by three different armies, two of which needed to cross the Albert Canal.

Veldwezelt bridge

zaterdag 21 december 2013

Snapshots of an old town: Maastricht

  • source: wikipedia
the old town wall and bridge over the Jeker in the town park

Maastricht  is a town in the Southeast of the the Netherlands. It is the capital city in the province of Limburg, and located on both sides of the Meuse river, at the point where the Jeker river joins it.

the old town wall and Jeker river in the town park

In history Maastricht developed from a Belgic settlement, that in the Gallic Wars was conquered by the Romans and thus became a Roman settlement, to a religious centre, a garrison city and an early industrial city. Nowadays, it is known as a city of especially culture (including local folklore) and education. Maastricht's rich history shows from the fact that in this town no less than 1677 national heritage sites are located, which is the second highest amount in a Dutch town, after Amsterdam. Furthermore, it has become known, by way of the Maastricht Treaty, as the birthplace of the European Union, European citizenship, and the single European currency, the Euro. The town is popular with tourists for shopping and recreation, and has a large growing international student population. Maastricht is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network and is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.

the old bridge crossing the Meuse

The name Maastricht is derived from Latin Trajectum ad Mosam (or Mosae Trajectum), meaning 'crossing at the Meuse', and referring to the bridge built by the Romans. The Latin name first appears in medieval documents and it is not known whether this was Maastricht's official name during Roman times.

Maastricht at the river Meuse

There is some debate as to whether Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands. Some people consider Nijmegen the oldest, mainly because it was the first settlement in the Netherlands to receive Roman city rights. Maastricht never did, but it may be considerably older as a settlement. In addition, Maastricht can claim uninterrupted habitation since Roman times. A large number of archeological finds confirms this. Nijmegen has a gap in its history: there is practically no evidence of habitation in the early Middle Ages.

fair in front of the Bassilica Servatius

Neanderthal remains have been found to the west of Maastricht. Of a later date are Paleolithic remains, between 8,000 and 25,000 years old. Celts lived here around 500 BC, at a spot where the river Meuse was shallow and therefore easy to cross.

old fortifications in the heart of the town

It is not known exactly when the Romans arrived in Maastricht, or whether the settlement was founded by them. It is known, though, that the Romans built a bridge over the Meuse in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Augustus Ceasar. The bridge was an important link in the main road between Bavay and Cologne. Roman Maastricht was probably relatively small. Remains of the Roman road, the bridge, a religious shrine, a Roman bath, a granary, some houses and the 4th-century castrum walls and gates, have been excavated. Fragments of provincial Roman sculptures, as well as coins, jewelry, glass, pottery and other objects from Roman Maastricht are on display in the exhibition space of the city's public library (Centre Céramique).

town hall

According to legend, the Armenian-born Saint Servatius, bishop of Tongeren, died in Maastricht in 384 and was buried there along the Roman road, outside the castrum. According to Gregory of Toursit was bishop Monulph who, around 570, built the first stone church on the grave of Servatius, the present-day Basilica of Saint Servatius. The city remained an early Christian diocese until it lost this position to nearby Liège in the early 8th century.

tower of one of the many churches

In the early Middle Ages Maastricht was, along with Aachen and the area around Liège, part of the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The town was an important centre for trade and manufacturing. Merovingian coins minted in Maastricht have been found in many places throughout Europe. In the 10th century Maastricht briefly became the capital of the duchy of Lower Lorraine.

town park and Jeker river

During the 12th century the town flourished culturally. The provosts of the church of Saint Servatius held important positions in the Holy Roman Empirer during this era. The city's two main churches were largely rebuilt and redecorated. Maastricht Romanesque stone sculpture is regarded as one of the highlights of Mosan art. Maastricht painters were praised by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival. Around the same time, the poet Henric van Veldeke wrote a legend of Saint Servatius, one of the earliest works in Dutch literature.

one of many corners in a medieval town

Shortly after 1200 the city received dual authority, with the prince-bishops of Liège and the dukes of Brabant holding joint sovereignty over the city. Maastricht received city rights in 1204. Soon afterwards the first ring of medieval walls were built. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city remained a centre for trade and manufacturing of wool and leather but gradually economic decline set in. After a brief period of economic prosperity in the 15th century, the city's economy suffered during the wars of religion of the 16th and 17th centuries, and recovery did not happen until the industrial revolution in the early 19th century.

Vrijthof, center of Maastricht

The important strategic location of Maastricht resulted in the construction of an impressive array of fortifications around the city during this period. The Spanish and Dutch garrisons became an important factor in the city's economy. In 1579 the city was sacked by the Spanish army under general Alexander Farnes, duke of Parma. For over fifty years the Spanish crown took over the role of the dukes of Brabant in the joint sovereignty over Maastricht. In 1632 the city was conquered by Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, and the Dutch States General replaced the Spanish crown in the joint government of Maastricht.

pond in the town park

Another Siege of Maastricht (1673) took place during the Franco-Dutch War. In June 1673, Louis XIV laid siege to the city because French battle supply lines were being threatened. During this siege,Vauban, the famous French military engineer, developed a new strategy in order to break down the strong fortifications surrounding Maastricht. His systematic approach remained the standard method of attacking fortresses until the 20th century. On 25 June 1673, while preparing to storm the city, captain-lieutenant Charles de Batz de Castelmore, also known as the comte d’Artagnan, was killed by a musket shot outside Tongerse Poort. This event was embellished in Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne. French troops occupied Maastricht from 1673 to 1678.

the old fortification of Maastricht

In 1748 the French once again conquered the city at what is known as the Second French Siege of Maastricht, during the War of Austrian Succession. The French took the city one last time in 1794, when the condominium was dissolved and Maastricht was annexed to the First French Empire. For twenty years Maastricht was the capital of the French département of Meuse-inférieure.

Saint Servatius Bassilica

After the Napoleontic era, Maastricht became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. It was made the capital of the newly formed Province of Limburg (1815 - 1839). When the southern provinces of the newly formed kingdom seceded in 1830 (Belgian Revolution), the Dutch garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king, even when most of the inhabitants of the town and the surrounding area sided with the Belgian revolutionaries. In 1831, arbitration by the Great Powers allocated the city to the Netherlands. However, neither the Dutch nor the Belgians agreed to this and it was not until the 1839 Treaty of London that the arrangement was implemented.

Hell gate

Because of its eccentric location in the Netherlands, and its geographical and cultural proximity to Belgium, integration of Maastricht and Limburg into the Netherlands did not come about easily. Maastricht retained a distinctly non-Dutch appearance during much of the 19th century and it was not until the First World War that the city was forced to look northwards.

the ancient walls

Maastricht did not escape the ravages of World War II. It was quickly taken by the Germans in May 1940, but on 14 September 1944 it was also the first Dutch city to be liberated by allied forces. The three Meuse bridges were destroyed or severely damaged during the war. The majority of Maastricht Jews were murdered in Nazi concentration camps.

the ancient walls

The latter half of the century saw the decline of traditional industries (such as the famous Maastricht potteries) and a shift to a service economy. Maastricht University was founded in 1976. Several European institutions have found their base in Maastricht. In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was negotiated and signed here, leading to the creation of the Europian Union and the Euro.

shopping in Maastricht center

Large parts of the city centre were thoroughly refurbished in recent years, including the area around the main railway station, the main shopping streets, the Entre Deux and Mosae Forum shopping centres, and the Maasboulevard promenade along the Meuse. Also, a new quarter, including the new Bonnefanten Museum, a public library, a theater and several housing blocks designed by international architects, was built on the grounds of the former Céramique potteries near the town centre. As a result, Maastricht looks notably smarter. 

shopping in Maastricht center

zaterdag 14 december 2013

d'Artagnan, or snapshots of historical Maastricht sites

Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan  (c. 1611 – 25 June 1673) served Louis XIV as captain of the Musketeers of the Guard, and died at the Siege of Maastricht in the Franco-Dutch war. A fictionalized account of his life by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras formed the basis for the d’Artagnan Romances of Alexandre Dumas, most famously including The Three Musketeers. The heavily fictionalized version of d'Artagnan featured in Dumas' works and their subsequent screen adaptations is now far more widely known than the real historical figure.

D'Artagnan was born near Lupiac in south-western France. His father was the son of a newly ennobled merchant, who purchased the castle of Castelmore. Charles went to Paris in the 1630s, using the name of his mother, Françoise de Montesquiou d’Artagnan, daughter of an illustrious family. D'Artagnan found a way to enter into the Musketeers in 1632 through the support of his uncle, Henri de Montesquiou, Comte d'Artagnan, father of the field marshal Pierre de Montesquiou d’Artagnan, or perhaps thanks to the influence of Henri's friend, Monsieur de Tréville. While in the Musketeers, d'Artagnan sought the protection of the influential Cardinal Mazarin, France's principal minister since 1643. In 1646, the Musketeers company was dissolved, but d'Artagnan continued to serve his protector Mazarin.

D'Artagnan had a career in espionage for Mazarin. Due to d'Artagnan's faithful service during this period, Louis XIV entrusted him with many secret and delicate situations that required complete discretion. He followed Mazarin during his exile in 1651 in the face of the hostility of the aristocracy. In 1652 d'Artagnan was promoted to lieutenant in the Gardes Françaises, then to captain in 1655. In 1658, he became a second lieutenant in the newly reformed Musketeers. This was a promotion, as the Musketeers were far more prestigious than the Gardes-Françaises.

D'Artagnan was famous for his connection with the arrest of Nicolas Fouquet. Fouquet was Louis XIV's finance commissioner and aspired to take the place of Mazarin as the King's advisor. Fouquet was also a lover of grand architecture and employed the greatest architects and artisans in the building of his chateau. He celebrated the completion with a most extravagant feast, at which every guest was given a horse. The king however felt upstaged by the grandeur of the home and event and, suspecting that such magnificence could only be explained through Fouquet's pilfering the royal treasury. Three weeks later d'Artagnan arrested Fouquet. To prevent his escape by bribery, d'Artagnan was assigned to guard him for four years until Fouquet was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1667, d'Artagnan was promoted to captain-lieutenant of the Musketeers, the effective commander as the nominal captain was the King. As befitted his rank and position, he could be identified by his striking burgundy, white and black livery—the colours of the commanding officer of the Musketeers. Another of d'Artagnan's assignments was the governorship of Lille, which was won in battle by France in 1667. D'Artagnan was an unpopular governor and longed to return to battle. He found his chance when Louis XIV went to war with the Dutch Republic in the Franco-Dutch War. After being recalled to service, d'Artagnan was subsequently killed in battle on June 25, 1673, when a musket ball tore into his throat at the Siege of Maastricht. The French historian Odile Bordaz believes that he was buried in Saint Peter and Paul Church in Wolder, the Netherlands, a village that belongs to Maastricht today.

* source: Wikipedia