Maarten Beirens & Pieter Bergé - artistic directors - about the festival edition 2019

Recently the whole world was gazing fascinated at the very first photograph of a black hole. This
provides a nice link to the astronomic angle of our opening concert, but above all it fits superbly
with what this festival has stood for, and for exactly 25 years now: the pull of the unknown
and the nearly inconceivable. The excitement as we first glimpse a black hole
is no different from what so many 20th-century composers have realised as they made their
quest for rapture and beauty situated beyond the boundaries of the known world. When Arnold Schoenberg abandons the logic of the tonal system during his Second String Quartet, it is no coincidence that he does so just at the line of Stefan George’s poem ‘I feel air from other
planets’. It is one of the most moving passages in the whole of music history: a mystical moment,
in which a leap into the unknown opens up all kinds of new and strange discoveries. This intense experience of finding ecstasy in art that goes beyond the familiar is what we want to offer for the next 25 years as well. That’s why Transit has also functioned as the Festival’s reconnaissance starship for so long. ‘To boldly go where no man has gone before’. For composers and interpreters of today, this is self-evident. Our mission remains to share the thrilling music that these explorations provide as intensely as possible with our audience. 

Festival 20·21:

  • A festival whose every concert strives to penetrate one of the cores of recent music history like a spear.
  • A festival that cherishes the repertoire of the last 118 years, while looking fearlessly forward to what the musical future has in store at the same time.
  • Transit, the festival of new-music premieres, will continue to play its very special role, since what good is a spear without a spearhead?


The Flanders Festival in Flemish Brabant is a subsidiary of vzw Samenwerkende vereniging Festival van Vlaanderen. It was founded in 1995 under the leadership of the new province of Flemish Brabant, the city of Leuven, the KU Leuven and several corporations.

Profile 1995 - 2005

In the first few years in Leuven, the programme consisted of polyphony, 20th-century and classical/romantic music. This choice was motivated by the intention to give superb music ‘on the margins’ a more prominent place. In 2000 a festival for contemporary music called TRANSIT was started. In Flemish Brabant the classical concerts had a mixed programme inspired by the Leuven programmes.

Profile change 2006

In 2006 some drastic artistic choices were made. The concerts in Leuven would focus on music of the 20th (NOVECENTO) and 21st century (TRANSIT).

New name 2015

In 2015, the Flanders Festival in Flemish Brabant took on a new name: ‘Festival 20·21’. The focus will remain on the inexhaustible wealth of music of the 20th (Novecento) and 21st centuries (Transit).

More than ever Festival 20·21

From 2018, the festival’s name is simply Festival 20·21 – a festival that puts the repertoire of the not-so-distant past at centre stage, while looking forward fearlessly to what the musical future has in store. Transit will continue to play its very special role as a premiere festival for new music.

Festival 20·21 is lid van / is a member of: Festival van Vlaanderen & European Festivals Association (EFA)

Subsidiënten en sponsors