Ludo Claesen (Genk, born in 1956) studied percussion, music theory, composition, choral and orchestral conducting at the Lemmens Institute (now LUCA School of Arts, Lemmens Campus) in Leuven and the Flemish Music Conservatory in Antwerp. In 1987, he became laureate orchestral conducting (oratorio) with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra in Maastricht.
As a performing musician, he has performed in various European countries, Israel and the USA. He made radio and TV recordings for Belgian, Dutch and French broadcasters. As guest conductor, Ludo Claesen has performed with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra Maastricht, the New Flemish Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine), the Dutch Promenade Orchestra, Philharmonisches Kammerorchester Köln, the Flemish Radio Choir, the Choir of the Flemish Opera, Bach Choir Middelburg, The Brussels Vocal Consort and Studium Chorale Maastricht. In September 2014, he opened the new cultural season as guest conductor with the Philharmonic Choir of Jeju in South Korea. He has also committed to the annual performance in Maastricht on Good Friday of Bach's Johannes Passion by the Maastricht Chamber Choir. At the annual Choral Academy in Bruges, he is a regular conductor and teacher of choral conducting, while for many years, he was the inspirational conductor at major singing events such as Limburg Zingt, Flandria Cantat in Antwerp and Community singing in de Doelen in Rotterdam.
Ludo Claesen conducts the Hasselt Cathedral Choir, the Maastricht Chamber Choir, de Leuven Cappella Concinite and Cantilone Borgloon. In 1997 he founded the Limburg Oratorium Society (LOV) with which he, as artistic director, realised successful projects, such as the Carmina Burana (Orff); Messa di Gloria (Puccini), Elias (Mendelssohn) and the oratory Stad van Vrede (Steegmans). Under his direction, various musicians such as Wibi Soerjadi (piano), Anastasia Safonova (piano), Anders Davidson (cello), Aleksandr Khramouchin (cello), the Trio Vienarte Wien, and many others performed as soloists.
Lecturer and juror
Ludo Claesen taught polyphony and orchestral performance at the School of Arts LUCA, campus Lemmens Institute Leuven, for 36 years. He teaches choral conducting and choral singing at the ZUYD University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht Academy of Music (NL) and choral conducting at the Municipal Conservatoire in Hasselt.
He also sits on advisory committees of the authors' association SABAM, the national choral federation Koor&Stem in Antwerp and the artistic committee of the European Music Festival Neerpelt. In national and international competitions, he is a valued member of the jury (European Music Festival Neerpelt, Provincial Choir Contests Flanders, VLAMO, National Competition at the KNZV Netherlands, etc.)
For some time now, he has been a self-confessed composer of vocal and chamber music works, increasingly so. His Missa pro nativitate Europae for choir, orchestra and soloists was premiered under his direction in Lanaken (1994) in co-production with the KRO radio. In 2002, he conducted the same work at the Festival of Flanders (Limburg) in collaboration with works by Piet Swerts and Paul Steegmans. In 1995, the BRTN Radio 3 recorded his Psalmus 112 for brass, choir and percussion under his direction, with the BRTN choir and the Beaux Arts Quintet. His suiteMijmeringen for choir, woodwind quartet and keyboard was created in 1998, Bekoorlijk for eight-part choir in 2000. In June 2003, his Missa Ave Virga Jesse was premiered by the Hasselt Cathedral Choir, Maastricht Chamber Choir and Johan Hermans at the organ. The version for choir, organ and chamber orchestra was broadcast live that same year by VRT television as part of the Hasselt Seven-Yearly Festival. At the 2005 World Music Competition in Kerkrade, his Eurode-Fantasia enjoyed a world premiere for 2 orchestras, conducted by the composer. In 2009, he wrote the 3 obligatory works for the International Choral Competition Flanders - Maasmechelen (B) and the obligatory work for the Wimpel series equal voices at the European Music Festival in Neerpelt. (B) For the national music competition Dexia Classics 2011, he wrote the compulsory work for percussion. In 2010, Missa Beata es, virgo Maria (choir, organ, cello, oboe) was broadcast on television in Eurovision following the Hasselt Virga Jessefeesten performed by the Hasselt Cathedral Choir conducted by the composer; his Missa Tertia (TTBB with organ and published by Ascolta) was premiered by the Beeker Liedertafel on 17/10/10. In April 2015, his composition Cantico del Sole for strings, solos and women's choir was highly acclaimed in a performance of the Cappella Concinite conducted by him. His Cantata for Lent I (choir and chamber orchestra) was premiered in the spring of 2017 by the Hasselt Cathedral Choir.
Cantata for Lent II was premiered by the Maastricht Chamber Choir at the end of March 2018.
His compositions can be found at Belgian and Dutch publishers: Intrada Heerenveen (NL), Annie Bank (NL), Ascolta Houten (NL), Harmonia- De Haske (NL), Iduna (NL), Beurskens Maasbree (NL), Euprint Leuven, PM Europe Publications, Centrum voor Vlaamse Muziek Antwerpen, Centrum voor Liturgische Muziek Leuven, Musikal Special-Edition Ferrimontana (D).
Various works by Claesen have been recorded on CD, including his 4 Miniatures for saxophone quartet, Suite Ancienne for strings, Missa Ave Virga Jesse (2005 - VISIONAIR) for choir and organ. In October 2010, a full CD of his works Claesen meets Claesen, sacred choral Music composed and conducted by Ludo Claesen was released. In October 2018, Claesen meets Claesen II was published.
In 1993, he was laureate of the SABAM Choir Composition Competition in Brussels and received the Provincial Cultural Award. He received further composition distinctions in Antwerp (1985/1986), Leeuwarden (1996) and Verona (1997). In 2006, his composition When most I wink was honoured at the Torneo Internazionale di Musica in Rome. In appreciation for his dedication and his merits in terms of cultural dissemination, he also received the prize 'Het Gulden Spoor 1995' of the province of Limburg, the Episcopal award 'Bene de Ecclesia merenti' (2002), the 'Silberne Kulturehrennadel der Regierung der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens' (2003) and the Silver Medal (2nd class) of the city of Hasselt (2017).
Choral works (selection)
- 4 Adventsmotetten for SATB a capella, published by Euprint
- Joke for SATB, published by Euprint
- Dreams For SATB and vibraphone, published by Intrada Heerenveen
- Laetatus sum for SATB, organ and oboe, published by Intrada Heerenveen
- O Magnum Mysterium for TTBB/TTBB, published by Annie Bank and available from Edition Ferrimontana
- Hoc Corpus for SATB and organ, published by VCLM Leuven
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