Kheops ensemble

Tous les musiciens sont au diapason pour porter la pièce aux sommets de la musique et de l’intensité.
PJ Tribot, ResMusica

Kheops ensemble

An ensemble built on solid foundations committed to enduring and evolving over time to bring music to its greatest heights…

The Kheops ensemble was founded in 2006 by internationally recognised musicians eager to unite their artistic affinities on high-calibre projects. It quickly rose to rank among the major ensembles of the music scene.

Kheops explores the countless paths and possibilities of chamber music, combining classical and contemporary works, occasionally including jazz and traditional music.

The ensemble has performed in various prestigious concert halls such as Bozar, Flagey, the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, Süreyya Opera House in Istanbul, the Beethovenfest in Bonn, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, la Filature concert venue in Mulhouse, France, the Salle Philharmonique de Liège, as well as in China, Italy, the United Kingdom, and at the Festival des Forêts, the Festival de Wallonie, and the Flanders Festival, to name but a few.

Its recordings, devoted to Beethoven’s clarinet trios and the sextets by Dohnanyi and Penderecki (Fuga Libera), were received with critical acclaim by the trade press. The album ‘Fugitives', devoted to works by the ensemble’s pianist-composer, Muhiddin Dürrüoğlu, was released in late 2019 (Cyprès).

The Kheops ensemble collaborates with numerous artists such as sopranos Sophie Karthäuser (in the 4 Letzte Lieder de Strauss show) and Anne Cambier (Mr Croche), jazz musician Steve Houben (The Blue Path), and narrators Bruno Coppens (Mes Amis mots) and Maureen Dor (L’Apprenti Sorcier).

The ensemble is also behind the Musical Seasons at Seneffe (Saisons Musicales de Seneffe), a musical gathering that takes place four times per year at the magnificent estate of Seneffe Castle. The ensemble is supported by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.

KHEOPS: an ensemble that was meant to be

The creation of the Kheops Ensemble is the culmination of more than 20 years of deep friendship and of a love of making music together.

It was founded in 2006 by three internationally recognized Belgian musicians: Marie Hallynck, cellist; Ronald Van Spaendonck, clarinettist; and Muhiddin Dürrüoglu, pianist and composer. Together with harpist Sophie Hallynck, they form the ‘central quartet’ of this ensemble, which can be augmented with a variable number and assortment of other musicians depending upon the piece being performed.

As far back as its first concert at Bozar in Brussels in 2007, the violinist Graf Mourja and horn player Hervé Joulain have joined with the ensemble in performing Penderecki’s sextet. Since then, the ensemble has quickly expanded thanks to the collaboration of viola player Lise Berthaud, bassoonist Laurent Lefèvre, violinist Ning Kam, trumpeter Romain Leleu and flautist Gaby Van Riet, to name just a few. All the members of the ensemble share a passion for chamber music and most of them have known each other for a long time. Listening to them, it seems clear that these musicians were made to perform together!

There are numerous common threads, musical and otherwise, connecting these musicians. For example, Marie and Ronald have both been voted ‘Rising Star’ by the ECHO network and have stolen the same spotlights in the most beautiful concert halls in Europe. Marie and Muhiddin, partners both on and off the stage, met during their studies at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel before going on to teach at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Brussels, where Ronald also teaches. Graf and Laurent are connected through their participation with the Juventus Association and its annual festival. Laurent introduced Ronald to Hervé while recording the complete works of Poulenc for the Naxos label. As for the Hallynck sisters, they have played together since early childhood, and continue to this day to play through the repertoire of chamber music works that include the harp. The two met the other members of the ensemble thanks to a number of happy coincidences during their musical tours when they discovered many shared musical proclivities.

Il fallait bien les talents exceptionnels réunis dans l’ensemble Kheops pour donner à ces chefs-d’œuvre exigeants leur pleine dimension.
Martine Dumont-Mergeay La Libre Belgique
As for the Ensemble Kheops, no praise could be too high: unbelievably, they sound as if they were born to play both works. They’re not only technically superb but wholly convincing interpreters.
Rob Cowan, Gramophone

KHEOPS: a fitting name

Kheops (better known to English speakers as the Great Pyramid of Giza) is a pyramid that, like the musical ensemble that bears its name, rests on a four-sided foundation that assures the stability of the overall structure. Its outer surfaces, open to the sun, represent facets of the different personalities found in the ensemble’s members. Each one is sharply delineated as an individual but at the same time they fit seamlessly together to form a perfect whole. A pyramid can only be constructed with extensive and patient work that requires commitment and self-sacrifice; each person humbly adds his or her stone to make it take shape.

The finished pyramid represents an ideal of perfection to strive for. It is pursued practice after practice, concert after concert by the musicians of Kheops. They aim for this perfection not only for their own fulfilment, but also in order to share it with their audience. All are participants in the quest for the Infinite in one of its most beautiful manifestations: music.

KHEOPS: the repertoire

The repertoire of Kheops is vast, ranging from Bach to more contemporary composers, and including a few forays into jazz. One notable example was the ‘Blue Path’ project developed with saxophonist Steve Houben. Of course, the repertoire also includes certain pieces that one might qualify as ‘essential’: those pieces that never cease to inspire both performers and audiences.

Because the instrumental configuration of Kheops varies, the group is guaranteed a certain freedom to develop unique and unusual programs, although the process can be compromised by the complexity of actually assembling the necessary musicians and instruments in one place.