Gregorian Chant: an Icon of Eternal Beauty


Often one tries to define the secret of the ever growing interest in the “Gregorian Festival of Watou”.

This interest is, of course, first of all due to the theme itself: “Gregorian chant”.


Gregorian chant is the most honest form of music one can imagine. This chant gives you beneficent rest, even if you do not understand Latin. Gregorian chant is universal, fifteen centuries old and still up-to-date in various cultures. This is due to the fact that this music speaks to everybody’s heart, be it about joy, love, concern, acquiescence, feat, hope or confidence. Gregorian chant is the wavelength of the heart, not expressed in any frequency such as FM, MW or LW. It feeds the hunger for deeper spirituality and inner life.


Gregorian chant is the voice of silence. It is not a purely musical phenomenon, it has something fascinating. It is mysterious and even mystical. Thanks to its deep spirituality and its inner life Gregorian chant responds to the urge for mental deepening. For many people this chant is an echo of eternity. The melodies show up an inner, elusive beauty and are, so to speak, the real icons of the text. Text and music form a real symbiosis.


As a liturgical chant Gregorian chant contains everything: it is sensual, it loves silence, it does not ask for explanation and it has a strong mystical power. Holiness and beauty are perfectly integrated in a way that allows defining it as a fresco, a mosaic or an icon, a reference to the Eternal Beauty.


 Festival of Watou: a platform for festive togetherness and universal concord.


Certain cities or regions are the place to be for a particular art form. One can think of Avignon for the theatre arts in that respect. In the same way Watou is the universe for the newly discovered choir practice, known worldwide by its triennial Gregorian Festival.


In several university cities musicological congresses are organized with Gregorian chant being the focus of the proceedings, but no festival in the world brings so many internationally renowned ensembles and young talent together on a non-competitive basis.


In Watou, every three years, the “International Festival of Gregorian chant” is organized, which aims at bringing Gregorian chant as universal music, very much alive. There is a time aspect in this universality. The Gregorian expression has existed for 15 centuries. This community singing has remained intact and could resist so much historical diversity. Also a spatial aspect can be detected in the universality of Gregorian chant. This universal character is underlined by the participation of choirs from Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Europe and from the Far East. Gregorian chant is universal and intercultural, which facilitates participation from such diverse cultures.


The Festival is marked by a remarkable quality level. This opens new horizons for this oldest form of our cultural heritage. The high quality level, the variety of choirs and the inspiring program composition make the Watou Festival accessible for the active listener. The audience can experience a wealth of impressions and enjoyment in various ways. The listener is moved by the rich sound of mostly professional or semiprofessional scholas. In every performance the listener is overwhelmed by a tsunami of musicality, perfect text emission, supple phrasing, homogeneous choir sound and breathtaking interpretation. The differences in geographical background, gender and age of the performers offer a gripping diversity. The listener experiences it as a unique event where emotion surpasses theory. The number of people attending the festival is very large indeed.


The Festival has a special character. It is a festive meeting, a harmonious concord of people who have a lively interest in Gregorian chant. It creates, at the same time, a deep human concord: both the performer, who sings the music with refined emanation, as the listener, who communicates in the experience, are moved by the noble simplicity, authenticity, mystical character and expressive power of this music.


Finally the Festival is a universal consonance: both people who are not familiar with this music as the person who has studied this art form for years, experience the enthusiastic link of deep unity among all the people present.


Bernard Deheegher, organizer