Oh, Love: the blinding passion that absorbs everything, the ideal image of Romeo and Juliet – but also the disappointment and disillusionment, the raw pain of indifference or betrayal.

The Vlaams Radiokoor gives expression to the two faces of Love. The Juliet Letters, a series of songs written by Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet, are a dramatic and sometimes cynical reflection on love. Both opposition to and belief in the beauty of love come from beautiful choral works of both male and female composers.

“I thought I'd write to Juliet, for she would understand.” This is the opening line of one of the songs that Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet wrote together for the album The Juliet Letters.

A newspaper article about a professor in Verona who replied to letters addressed to Juliet Capulet, as well as the coincidental meeting of the British songwriter and the string quartet, was all it took to set up this unusual musical collaboration. All 5 musicians contributed to the music and the texts, imagining what the professor had been able to read in those letters – and more importantly: what the answer might have been…

“I once loved someone the way that you do
But I had to let her go
I lived with my regret
Don't despair, my would-be Juliet”

As a counterpart to the sometimes mournfully sarcastic songs, bittersweet a cappella works have been woven throughout the programme, allowing the other face of love to come to the fore.


Elvis Costello & Brodsky Quartet
The Juliet Letters (selectie)

Anna Clyne
Pocket Book VIII & LXV

Percy Grainger
Love At First Sight

Augusta Read Thomas
Love Songs

Hakan Parkman
3 Shakespeare Songs

Judith Bingham
The Drowned Lovers

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
8 Part-Songs, op. 119: No. 3, The Blue Bird

Jake Runestad
Let My Love Be Heard

Gavin Bryars
Two Love Songs: No. 2, Solo et pensoso

with the support of Beside Tax Shelter and the Belgian Tax Shelter

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programme book

Learn more about the music, the composer and the artists, or read the song lyrics.


Kristien Dirckx

Artist Kristien Dirkx created mobiles for The Juliet Letters that visualize love, hovering above the stage.

Kristien Dirckx

programme notes

Get in the concert mood: read the programme notes.

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reading list

A surprising reading list centered around love - compiled by Muntpunt

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€28 > €25

De Bijloke
Bijlokekaai 7 | 9000 Gent

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