Music thrives in Ghent and its diversity in terms of style, genre and identity is certainly stimulated here. At the same time there is a tradition of cooperation and interaction between many musicians that populate Ghent’s music scene, which also benefits from unusually widespread support. Ghentenaars love music. Concerts and other musical initiatives, irrespective of their genre, have always attracted a very large audience, time and again.
Ghent’s music scene is rich and diverse. It is a real festival city with a number of world-class festivals, such as the ten-day city festival in July, the Ghent Festivities. The prestigious International Festival of Flanders Ghent, one of the top festivals in Europe for classical music. Gent Jazz festival, with its amazing repertoire of international musicians but which also serves as a platform for young, up-and-coming talent. The International Film Festival of Flanders Ghent, which is also the only film festival worldwide which pays special attention to film music. Ghent also serves as the headquarters of the European Festival Association and the association of music festivals in Flanders.
The city of Ghent prides itself on its long and glorious past. As a result it boasts a wealth of extraordinary architectural heritage. A large part of this heritage today is also home to several Ghent music institutions. The conservatory, for example, is located in the “Grote Sikkel” and the “Achtersikkel”, a fifteenth-century city palace. One of the masterpieces of Ghent’s concert infrastructure is the Music Centre De Bijloke, which served as Ghent’s city hospital from 1228 until 1980, and which was subsequently converted into a splendid concert hall. The Flemish Opera, which was built in the first half of the nineteenth century, is widely considered one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe. The pioneering arts centre Vooruit is situated in a building which was used as an events hall for the socialist movement. The eclectic concert building de Handelsbeurs was built in 1738.
Ghent is highly regarded when it comes to music education, thanks to its conservatory, the opestudio, the orpheusinstituut and several music courses for people of all ages.
Ghent also boasts an exceptionally rich and talented pop and rock scene with more than 600 pop and rock groups. The city serves as a home base, working environment or source of inspiration for such artists as 2Many DJ’s, An Pierlé, Das Pop and Gabriel Rios, to name but a few.
In short, it is quite obvious why the City of Ghent has been incorporated in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Music.
Launch of the title of creative city of music
During the Ghent music festival Odegand (International Festival of Flanders) Ghent was officially inaugurated as ‘Creative City of Music’. After Bologna (Italy), Seville (Spain) and Glasgow (Scotland) Ghent is only the fourth city to receive this honorary title from UNESCO.
Thanks to this recognition Ghent is now part of the worldwide network of creative cities. Music is just one of seven categories, which include literature and gastronomy. At the end of 2004 UNESCO established this network with the aim of stimulating durable social, economic and cultural development. The cities in the network promote their remarkable cultural landscape, share experiences and create new opportunities in collaboration with other members. The development of partnerships between public and private actors is a very important aspect of this network.
The City of Ghent has built a solid reputation for itself as a music centre with a rich tradition and an inclusive approach to culture. The city has extensive infrastructure at its disposal for creative activities and the performing arts and the city’s impressive number of concert halls, educational facilities and research centres bear testimony to this. Several stakeholders contribute to shaping Ghent's diverse and extensive musical landscape. The city also pays a lot of attention to music education and research activities for young artists so they can develop their musical careers.