TRACES was founded by the violinist Philippe Graffin and is a project aiming at the promotion of unjustly neglected chamber music repertoire, as well as helping young talented artists perform. The first Traces Festival took place in January 2019 in Brussels, with 8 concerts very enthusiastically received by the audience, and is planned to happen again in 2021.

Recordings are a very important part of Traces' mission, now even more so as the situation during the pandemic forces both audiences and performers out of concert halls. Season 2020/21 starts with a very special project, around three works inspired by the history and character of the waltz and resonating with one another, placing in perspective their "raison d'être".

This festival, Traces, takes its origin from a glimpse of hope: to the sound of Jeanne Moreau’s voice, uttering the last closing words in Marcel Ophuls’s documentary on Klaus Barbie. "This motion picture is dedicated to the late Madame Bontout, a good neighbour".

Madame Bontout, neighbour to the Kaddouche family, had attempted to save one of their daughters during a "raffle" in Lyon, in the second world war. Today, a similar hope resonates through the joyful picture of a young migrant from Syria, all bundled up in the snow in Brussels, displayed last year during a Jewish Museum exhibition.

How can a musician today be a good neighbour? There are probably many answers, but for a start, perhaps, a sense of duty towards remembrance.

The trumpets of fame draw us towards the pinnacles of the repertoire, where a very few composers, in fact always the same, keep the public’s interest through the test of, rather unconcerned, times. Yet, what happens when such a talented composer as Erwin Schulhof disappears prematurely in a nazi concentration camp? Or what occurs after the marvellous and well respected austrian composers Karl Weigl and his wife Waly find themselves anonymous in the United States after having fled the Anschluss?

This festival is our duty. The duty of playing the music of those who have, silently, left a few signs on some hidden pages like bottles to the sea before disappearing.

Philippe Graffin

Festival 2019

Programme | Artists

Over eight days, works of composers persecuted by totalitarian regimes were performed in various venues in Brussels by critically acclaimed artists. The first edition covered the 20th century. Every concert was dedicated to a personality whose life has particularly influenced the lives of others.

The works chosen by the musicians were accompanied by a testimony from Anita Lasker Wallfisch (Sunday 20th January, at the Jewish Museum) and readings from texts by Jan Karski (Tuesday 22nd January, at the Embassy of Poland) and Lado Asatiani (Friday 25th January, at the Embassy of Georgia), as well as film and photo projections. The festival closed on Sunday, January 27th, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau camps.

Ysaÿe's Secret Sonata - a film by Philippe Graffin

À la valse - teaser trailer

La Valse by Maurice Ravel - celebrating the centenary of the piece's premiere (12th of December 1920 in Paris) with a new arrangement, commissioned by Philippe Graffin for Traces Festival Ensemble and made by the young Belgian composer and arranger Tim Mulleman! More info about the project coming soon...

Artistic director - Philippe Graffin

Violinist Philippe Graffin has established an indisputable reputation for his interpretations of the French repertoire. Philippe made his first recording with Yehudi Menuhin conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and his many highly acclaimed recordings since then bear witness to a questing mind and include many world premieres. He has rediscovered original settings of Chausson’s Poème and Ravel’s Tzigane and has championed the forgotten violin concertos of Fauré and the English composer Coleridge-Taylor which he has recorded and performed at the BBC Proms.

As concerto soloist, he has performed with orchestras such as The Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales among many others. Graffin performs works of many living composers and has had works written for him by Rodion Shchedrin, Vytautas Barkaukas, David Matthews, Philippe Hersant and Yves Prin. New releases include the world premiere of the violin concerto of Finnish composer Tauno Marttinen, with the Turku Philharmonic, and a new recording of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, the first to include the cadenza by Ysaÿe, on a CD which also includes Prokofiev’s Five Melodies. Over the years Philippe Graffin has felt a special interest and affinity with Enescu's music, Enescu being the teacher and mentor of lord Yehudi Menuhin with whom Philippe worked and made his first recording. Two CD albums, recorded together with pianist Claire Désert for Avie Records, are the result of his longtime exploration of Enescu, Debussy and Ravel's work. "In the shade of the forest" features rare original transcriptions by Debussy for violin and piano, a version of Ravel's "Tzigane" with lutheal, and Enescu's "Childhood impressions". "Fiddler's blues" premieres the newly discovered Ysaÿe's 7th solo sonata and some more rarities of Debussy, Enescu and Ravel, and is accompanied by a documentary, "Ysaÿe's secret sonata", available on YouTube.

Philippe is a highly sought after chamber musician and was founder and artistic director of the “Consonances”, a chamber music festival held in St Nazaire, France, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015. He plays a Domenico Busano violin, made in Venice, 1730. In demand as a teacher, Philippe Graffin is a professor at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique (CNSM) and at the Brussels Conservatoire Royal.


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