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Belgium’s Jazz Middelheim gets new operator

Established festivals Brosella and Paradise City will partner on the relaunch of the legendary international jazz event

By Lisa Henderson on 12 Feb 2024

Jazz Middelheim

Jazz Middelheim

image © Maarten Mellemans

The City of Antwerp has selected a partnership between the Brosella and Paradise City festivals to relaunch the Jazz Middelheim festival.

First held in 1969, Jazz Middelheim hosted artists such as Van Morrison, Jamie Cullum, Patti Smith, Ludovico Einaudi, Jean “Toots” Thielemans, John Zorn, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Werner, Archie Shepp, Robin Verheyen and Cassandra Wilson.

It was most recently staged in 2022, but Jazz en Muziek – the non-profit organisation behind the festival – went bankrupt at the end of last year. Jazz en Muziek also staged Gent Jazz Festival, which was rescued by Greenhouse Talent.

The new version of Jazz Middelheim will take place this year on a small scale in Antwerp’s Den Brandt Park, before a full-scale edition in 2025.

Details for the 2024 edition are yet to be announced, although the organisers have stated their intention to extend the festival to two days in September.

The City of Antwerp was attracted by the “balance between tradition and innovation” proposed by Brosella and Paradise City

Meanwhile, the festival’s name is currently still being negotiated as the brand is owned by Flemish public broadcaster VRT.

A total of eight candidates came forward in response to the call for a new Jazz Middelheim promoter, launched in 2023 by the City of Antwerp.

The municipal authorities were attracted by the “balance between tradition and innovation” proposed by Brosella and Paradise City, as well as their “experience in organising events in a green park environment”.

“The Brosella festival is synonymous with a varied musical offering of urban ethno and jazz and many musical styles in between,” says the City. “It presents and produces musical projects by big names and young national and international talent. Every year, the Paradise City Festival marks the start of summer for fans of electronic music on the site of a castle and is recognised worldwide for its considerable efforts in terms of sustainable development.”

Antwerp’s councillor for culture, Nabilla Ait Daoud, adds: “We are looking forward to a festival that is both warm and intimate, that honours both the past and the future of jazz, and that puts Antwerp back on the international jazz map.”

Bert Schreurs, director of Brosella Festival, comments: “We want to combine classic, established jazz artists with DJs influenced by jazz. In this way, we hope to appeal to a younger audience. We are therefore joining forces with Paradise City.”


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