When Le Concert Olympique was founded in 2010 as the brainchild of Beethoven expert and conductor Jan Caeyers, it struck a chord in the classical music world. Le Concert Olympique represents a unique contemporary experience of a timeless tradition, as well as a relevant performance of the canon, specifically the absolute masterpieces by Beethoven and his contemporaries in order is to bring authentic, relevant and referential performances. The orchestra has two residencies in Belgium, id est in deSingel in Antwerp and in Flagey in Brussels. As from 2012, it has been invited to acclaimed concert halls such as the Vienna Musikverein, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and De Doelen in Rotterdam.
Le Concert Olympique is both a world-wide project – its meticulously screened and auditioned 45 players are recruited internationally and converge several times a year to work intensively on an exclusive production – and a world-class project – its orchestra is top-notch and its soloists are the world’s best. On an elemental level, everyone shares the conductor’s enthusiasm: a love of music and the ambition to perform the Viennese classics at the highest levels. The festive character is emphasized by the fact that the musicians are dressed by famous clothes designer Anna Heylen. This collaboration symbolizes the main mission of Le Concert Olympique : to combine the timeless tradition with a fresh and vivid contemporary experience.
The aim is as ambitious as it is simple: to be considered internationally as a top reference Beethoven orchestra by 2020 (Beethoven's jubilee year), in terms of both performance and experience. During the next coming seasons, not only the symphonies and concerto’s are in the heart of the programming, but also lesser known works such as the big vocal works that will be performed together with the famous Arnold Schönberg Choir from Vienna.
The spirit is captured in the orchestra’s name, which evokes Le Concert de la Société Olympique, the renowned Parisian concert organizer that commissioned six symphonies from Joseph Haydn in the 1780s. Haydn’s music, performed in the Palais-Royal, the birthplace if the progressive, pre-revolutionary social movement in France, signaled with it the birth of the modern classical symphony.
As from 2013 Le Concert Olympique is ‘Orchestra in residence’ at the Leuven University and supported by the Flemish Community. It is also structurally sponsored by Ackermans & van Haaren, Elia, KBC and Telenet.
The conductor and musicologist Jan Caeyers lived, studied and worked in Vienna for many years. From 1993 to 1997 he was assistant to Claudio Abbado at the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, where he also had the opportunity to work alongside Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez.
Until 2003 Jan Caeyers was the director of the Beethoven Academy and performed in many of Europe’s major concert venues, including the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (Bozar) and the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid. As a freelance conductor he has worked at the Opera in Stuttgart, and with orchestras in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Florence and Prague. He has also conducted such leading European choral ensembles as the Arnold Schoenberg Chor in Vienna and the Nederlands Kamerkoor.
Jan Caeyers wrote down his in-depth views on Beethoven in his substantial volume which was published in Dutch in 2009 and translated into German entitled as Beethoven. Der einsame Revolutionär by C.H. Beck in Munich in 2012, with a series of translations to follow (such as the Hungarian) or expected to follow (such as the English, Chinese, Arabic, etc). Writing this book was an essential transitional stage towards the development of the new orchestra, Le Concert Olympique, with which Caeyers is able to express and study his mature views on Beethoven and Viennese classical music.
This superbly documented and elegantly written biography was given an enthusiastic reception and the original version is now already in its seventh edition. Since the book became a bestseller in Germany – the home of Beethoven research – it is now considered as the reference work on Beethoven worldwide based on the new insights that have led to a paradigm shift in the perception of the famous composer.
Jan Caeyers has always combined an artistic career with music studies in a homogeneous project, with Beethoven at its heart. His experience as a conductor has been an essential part of his academic approach as a professor at the University Leuven. Vice versa, setting up the new orchestra Le Concert Olympique enabled him to convert into sound the well-founded insights he gained while writing his Beethoven biography.