A historic church as a concert hall: 400 years of St. Augustine’s church

What is now the AMUZ concert hall was once the monastery church of the Augustinian friars. This order came to Antwerp four hundred years ago, where they were given premises previously occupied by a brewery in Everdijstraat. By buying more buildings and adding extensions, the friars were able to expand their monastery to such an extent that, seventy years later, it occupied the whole area between Everdijstraat, Kammenstraat and Oudaan. The church was the first major construction project by the future Augustinian monastery. It was built between 1615 and 1618 on the orders of Wenzel Coebergher, the court architect of Archduke Albrecht and Archduchess Isabella. The style of the building is described as early Baroque, but clear traces of local Renaissance traditions can still be found, particularly in the facade. This facade, taller than the building behind it, conceals a threepart nave with no transept and a relatively large choir. The interior reflects far more of the modern architecture of the time: the Baroque. A gate in the southern nave leads to the Chapel of Our Lady. This winter chapel dates from 1857. A curious piece of neo-Byzantine architecture with overwhelming murals, it has been refitted as a foyer. In its present-day role as a concert hall, the church is the heart of AMUZ, which brings together the past and present in harmony. Thus St. Augustine’s Church has become the setting for a respectful approach to art and cultural history within a contemporary policy that focuses on the public.

To mark the occasion of the 400th birthday of St. Augustine’s Church, AMUZ has produced a book
about its past and present. Besides contributions from specialists to the book’s content, it presents an
abundance of magnificent images, from the historic interior to the contemporary art works by Jan Fabre.

25 x 29 cm, 192 pages, € 29,99
Dutch & English. Available from 16.08.18
Published by Davidsfonds Uitgeverij

Especially for the 400th birthday of St. Augustine’s Church and the celebrations of the Baroque at AMUZ and in Antwerp, Zefiro Torna has developed a soundscape for AMUZ with the sound artist Bram Bosteels: Sound Sketch I / Augustine in Ecstasy. Bosteels has created a world of sound from which a piece of music emerges. Zefiro Torna selected a specific collection of compositions for this: Paradisus Sacris Cantionibus Consitus by Peter Philips. This music was first printed by Phalesius in Antwerp in 1628, the same year as the opening of St. Augustine’s Church. Philips’ motet, Desiderium anima ejus, has similar content to the writings and ideas of the patron saint and church father Augustine, so it is hard to imagine a more suitable collection of music. Zefiro Torna’s performance of this music, featuring the soprano Annelies Van Gramberen and theorbo player Jurgen De bruyn, has been transformed by Bram Bosteels into the soundscape Sound Sketch I / Augustine in Ecstasy, which attunes the ear to the elusive sounds of the past. Sound as the presence of absence, which you can hear during your visit to AMUZ at St. Augustine’s Church.