‘Christ Surrounded by Musician Angels’ by Hans Memling (ca. 1480 – 1490)
In 2017 the Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp appointed Oltremontano as artist in residence for a period of five years. This allowed artistic director Wim Becu to get acquainted with the recent restoration of the altar piece ‘Christ Surrounded by Musician Angels’ by Hans Memling (c. 1480-90).
It inspired him to initiate an interdisciplinary project to have all the musical instruments reconstructed in minute detail.
The Centre for the Construction of Musical Instruments in Puurs, near Antwerp (Cmb) reconstructed all string instruments and the organetto, Geert Jan van der Heide copied the various trumpets and Eric Moulder reconstructed the shawm. Expert musicologists helped establish connections between historical sources and recent observations in order to achieve a coherent musical narrative of the angels’ concert.
The composition of the musician angels in the piece is wondrous. It portrays a vocal ensemble, an alta capella and a bassa capella. Apart from Gregorian chants, compositions by G. Dufay, G. Binchois, J. Dunstable, J. Obrecht are being performed, as well as improvised music. Between them, Oltremontano Antwerp and Psallentes bring fourteen performers to the stage.