Bernard Foccroulle was born in Liège (Belgium) in 1953. He began his international career as an organist in the mid-s 70s, playing a wide range of repertoire from Renaissance to Contemporary Music. He has performed many world premieres of composers such as Philippe Boesmans, Brian Ferneyhough, Betsy Jolas, Xavier Darasse, Jonathan Harvey, Pascal Dusapin; at the same time he recorded masterworks of the organ repertoire, from Francisco Correa de Arauxo to Charles Tournemire, from Heinrich Scheidemann to Dietrich Buxtehude.
In the 1980s, he was a founder member of the Ricercar Consort, devoted mainly to German baroque music.
His discography as soloist includes more than forty CDs. Between 1982 and 1997, he recorded the complete organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach for the Ricercar label. For these recordings, he carefully chose the most beautifully preserved historic instruments. Since then he has devoted most of his time as performer to the Northern German School. In 2007, his recording of the Dietrich Buxtehude’s complete organ works won the Diapason d’Or and the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros among other prizes.
In addition to solo organ recitals all over the world, he regularly plays with singers, with cornetto players such as Jean Tubéry and Lambert Colson, as well as with Palestinian singer and ‘Ud player Moneim Adwan. Another important aspect of Bernard Foccroulle’s work is the combination of organ music with other art forms, for example his collaboration with choreographers Jan Fabre (Preparatio mortis) and Salva Sanchis. One of his most outstanding current projects is Darkness and Light, in collaboration with Australian video artist Lynette Wallworth.
While continuing his career as organist, he became director of the Brussels opera-house La Monnaie in 1992, holding this position until 2007. In 1993, he founded the association Culture and Democracy, which campaigns for widespread participation in cultural life. He has been director of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence from 2007 until 2018. In 2017, he got the Leadership Award at the International Opera Awards in London.
Since 2010, Bernard Foccroulle has been professor of Organ at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Brussels.
As composer, Bernard Foccroulle has written works for soprano and orchestra (Am Rande der Nacht after Rilke), for baritone and chamber music ensemble (Due after De Luca…), for soprano, baritone and six musicians (E vidi quattro stelle after Dante’s Purgatorio), and Quatre mélodies d’après Verlaine for soprano and piano. Zauberland, a cycle of melodies for soprano and piano on poems by Martin Crimp will be premiered at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris in April 2019, staged by Katie Mitchell. He has also composed a cycle of pieces for historic organs (CD AEON, Diapason d’Or 2016). His compositions are published by Henry Lemoine, Ricordi and Doblinger.
He is the author of La naissance de l’individu dans l’art (Grasset, 2003), which was written in collaboration with Robert Legros and Tzvetan Todorov. He also published two books made of interviews : Entre passion et résistance (Labor, 2005) and Faire vivre l’opéra, un art qui donne sens au monde (Actes Sud, 2018).
He is Doctor Honoris Causa of the Montréal University and Aix-Marseille Université.
Concerto for cello and orchestra: homage to Trisha Brown
Bernard Foucroulle was commissioned by the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels for the creation of a concerto for cello and orchestra which will be presented on May 29, 2019, along with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. This symphony will be associated with dance, and this inspired the composer to create an homage to Trisha Brown, the celebrated American choreographer, who passed away in 2017. Trisha Brown notably created an exceptional Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, as well as a choreography of J.S Bach’s Offrande Musicale, a staging of Schubert’s Winterreise and Salvatore Sciarrino’s opera Luci mie traditrici. Her artistic language and the grace that accompanied each of her productions continue to inspire the composer.
Bernard Foucroulle is in residence at the Camargo Foundation from November 10 to 24, 2018.