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La Monnaie / De Munt LA MONNAIE / DE MUNT

Bernard Foccroulle awarded an honorary doctorate

On 15 February 2024, KU Leuven and UCLouvain awarded their honorary doctorates. One of the three laureates was Bernard Foccroulle, who headed our opera house for fifteen years and who earlier this season presented the world premiere of his opera Cassandra. This prestigious distinction recognizes his extraordinary contribution to the world of culture and his continued commitment to making art accessible to all.

‘A contemporary architect of culture’, a ‘bridge-builder’, ‘a person whose vision always reaches beyond Brussels, Flanders, Wallonia, Europe and the world’: Bernard Foccroulle was unanimously acclaimed at the presentation of the honorary doctorates in Louvain-La-Neuve. The organist, composer and opera director was included in the list of ‘pioneers in the fields of scientific research or the arts and champions of a better society’, a list which also included Theresa Kachindamoto, who fights against child marriage, and political philosopher Seyla Benhabib. Foccroulle was lauded for his versatility as a musician and social commitment as a cultural entrepreneur: ‘Sore points of today are part of his socio-artistic commitment: the decline of Mother Earth, the need for investment in the youngest generation, the fact that only dialogue can bring different cultures closer together to universally create a better world’, attendees of the award ceremony were told.

Foccroulle, who was General Director of La Monnaie from 1992 to 2007 before heading the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence for eleven years, was praised not only for his artistic achievements as an organist, harpsichordist and composer, but also for his efforts to make art more accessible to a wider audience. In 1993 he founded ‘Culture and Democracy’, an association striving for maximum participation in culture, and in 1998 he set up the European network RESEO, which promotes the experience of opera and dance. ‘His democratization of opera in cities such as Brussels and Aix was groundbreaking’, said Bart Demuyt, among the initiators of the honorary doctorate. After honorary doctorates from the universities of Montreal and Aix-Marseille, the recognition awarded by KU Leuven and UCLouvain is thus the third such distinction to be awarded to Bernard Foccroulle.