Sofie Vanden Eynde
Lute and Theorb

SOLO and soloist(s) // LUTE SONGS // IMAGO MUNDI

©Marleen Nelen



Sofie Vanden Eynde listens to the world.

She wanders over borders and is wonder-struck.
About what connects people across the borders of time and space.
She cherishes the difference between cultures, between people, between sounds.
But she seeks for concord.
For contact points in the margin, for unexpected resonance.
Because in every voice there whispers another way to say something similar: what it is to be human.

Imago Mundi: sonorous stories about a shared world

Souls in Exile

Clare Wilkinson, voice
Sofie Vanden Eynde, lute, theorbo and artistic direction
Moneim Adwan, voice & ud

In your light I learn how to love. 
In your beauty, how to make poems. 
You dance inside my chest 
where no-one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.
Melancholy. Longing for the inaccessible. Yearning to lose oneself in paradise. An impossible love. Dissatisfaction with our existence on earth. Light is darkness, darkness light. Relentlesness of time. The quest for the sublime.
In the Renaissance era melancholy was a source of inspiration for artists who were constantly seeking equilibrium. From the darkest meanderings of their souls, within the space of a breath, their spirits were uplifted. Sufis seek out their path heavenwards aided by music and poetry. Discomfort is a source of beauty for them. In this programme English lute song and Arabic song join hands across the miles. Music is a universal language, with the power to touch us all.
old music by J. Dowland, R. Johnson, N. Lanier, A. Ferrabosco
new music by M. Adwan, T. Smetryns
texts by Jonson, Rossetti, Rumi, Al-Hallaj, Darwish, Tennyson, Ibn-Arabi


Mustafa Dogan Dikmen, fiddle, ney and percussion
Griet De Geyter, soprano
Sofie Vanden Eynde, lute, theorbo and artistic direction
Caner Can, kanun
Liam Fennelly, fiddle and viola da gamba
Malte Stück, saz

Istanbul: a city of loose ends, treacherous depths and constant efforts to bridge them. Together, Sofie Vanden Eynde (lute) and Mustafa Doğan Dikmen (voice) have pieced together its many facets to assemble a kaleidoscopic portrait of the metropolis. It is not a straightforward image, but very much a colourful puzzle of interconnecting impressions and experiences. Passage steers a course between Anatolian folk dances and medieval troubadours, via Telemann and Ottoman classical song, navigating past the tears of Luigi Rossi’s Zaida and towards a new creation by the young Turkish composer Yiğit Özatalay. Fixing that course is impossible: the passage between East and West is too uncertain, partly uncharted and at the same time rich with possibility.
The story of Ali Ufki, a Polish musician who drifted into the Ottoman empire as a translator, nicely symbolises this troubled crossing. In his manuscripts, Italian stanzas meander among Ottoman melodies in stave notation, and Protestant psalms are set to Turkish texts. The cries of the mythical lovers Hero and Leander also echo across Passage; the Bosphorus sank all their hopes. Now, the old Galata Bridge stands in the same stretch of water like a lost relic, watching dreamily over the strait; but it, too, cannot tie up Istanbul’s loose ends.

Music by L. Rossi, Ali Afki, G. Dufay, anonymous Anatolian composers, G. F. Telemann,Y. Özatalay,...


Sofie Vanden Eynde, baroque lute and theorbo
Benjamin Glorieux, violoncello piccolo and live electronics

In DouBlebACH , Sofie Vanden Eynde (theorbo) and cellist Benjamin Glorieux delve down to the core of Bach’s musical firmament to uncover the bedrock on which it rests. The deep resonance of the theorbo and violoncello piccolo, strikingly complemented by live electronics, takes listeners straight down to the foundations that underpin the Baroque soundscape: the use of bass.
The warmth of the theorbo, with its purring bass and gently plucked strings, lends Sofie’s transcription of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 a contemplative air. The instrument’s polyphonic capabilities allow an independent voice to rise out of the accompanying part and resonate softly alongside the melody. The theorbo may be less flamboyantly expressive than its bowed counterpart , but this technique is still a very effective way of setting up subtle vibrations in the bass. Overall, this gentle suite basks in an atmosphere of almost devotional peace.
As Benjamin’s bow blazes over the strings, however, it becomes clear that Suite No. 6 for violoncello piccolo is a completely different story. The music speaks for itself: emphatic accentuation, declamatory runs and virtuoso passages all proclaim that joy reigns triumphant and uncontested. The addition of an extra string opens the higher registers up to exploration.
The final piece, a contemporary personal arrangement of the chorale Ich ruf’ zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ for cello, live electronics and theorbo, propels the duo’s quest for musical concord beyond the confines of time and space towards chance discoveries and unexpected resonances .

Music by J. S. Bach en S. L. Weiss

Elizabethan and Jacobean Songs and Ayres for Virginals and Lutes

Caroline Weynants, sopraan
Sofie Vanden Eynde, luiten en artistieke leiding
Korneel Bernolet, virginaal

Virginals, the queen of keyboards, seem to have exercised an irresistible attraction on the well-born young ladies of the 17th century, as evinced by the large number of portraits immortalising them with their treasured instrument.
The lute was also held in great esteem during this period, to the point of becoming a humanist symbol. Popular at court and with the well-to-do, it stood as shorthand for a certain kind of life.
In this programme, IMAGO MUNDI explores the numerous parallels between lute and virginal repertoire. Both are soft, plucked instruments, and lute and virginal books share arrangements of the same lute songs, dances, and popular melodies. Their shared air of delicate refinement lends a gentle intimacy to an evening which promises a little taste of heaven on earth.

Music by W. Byrd, J. Dowland, T. Campion, G. Farnaby,...

...women’s stories

Lore Binon, soprano
Sofie Vanden Eynde, theorbo & baroque guitar & artistic direction
Sarah Ridy, triple harp
Lies Wyers, viola da gamba & lirone
Bart Jacobs, harpsichord & organ
Lidewij Vandervoort, baroque violin (optional)

Exploring the themes of love and sacrifice, I can’t help but linger on the work of Francesca Caccini. Her dramatic, expressive, and deeply emotional style is as comfortable with rejuvenating Old Testament scenes, as it is with devotional ecstasy or depicting Christ’s agony on the cross, without ever forgetting the pain of unrequited earthly love.
Only the first book of her songs, il primo libro delle musiche, survives. It contains both secular and religious music — an interesting, though not unusual, combination in the 17th century.
Yet if we take F. Caccini’s work as a point of departure for a voyage of discovery through the oeuvre of other 17th century female composers, these themes take on an entirely different hue. For a woman not only to compose, but have her compositions performed in public, was by no means self-evident. F. Caccini was able to live a fairly conventional life; she was, after all, the daughter of the influential Giulio. But B. Strozzi never married, though she did bear four children; and, based on a painting in which she is shown dressed in rather little, historians have wondered whether acting as a courtesan or prostitute might not have been her main source of income. Other female composers had entered a convent and taken vows. Was this the only way for them to be both women and professional musicians? Or was it the love of God that inspired their divine compositions?

Music by F. Caccini, I. Leonarda, B. Strozzi


Lore Binon, soprano
Sofie Vanden Eynde, lute & theorbo
Anthony Romaniuk, piano
Robert Zuidam, composer
Anouk De Clercq, visuals


Mary Stuart — a historical figure and a myth spun in the imaginations of countless artists, writers and composers from Joseph Brodsky to Thomas Edison, Giacomo Carissimi and Robert Schumann. Who was she?
A remorseless killer or a defenceless pawn in the hands of a Machiavellian nobility? A tragic heroine who was proud to face fate with her head held high? A pathetic failure who could not bear the weight of the responsibilities life imposed on her, or a victim of her times? There has been no shortage of historians who have attempted to piece
together her story; but Mary Stuart’s turbulent life continues to challenge them all. From the 16th century to the present day, her life has been an invitation to hold strong views, trenchant fors and againsts, views which are inevitably coloured by the thoughts and desires of their own times. On trial for her life, she asked the commissioners who would determine her fate to “Look to your consciences and remember that the theatre of the whole world is wider than the kingdom of England.”
That is precisely what art has done. In art, Mary’s legacy is different each time it is reimagined, as if in a mirror which reflect a shifting shape: the complex and ambiguous shadow of her life and personality.
Lore Binon and Sofie Vanden Eynde have set out to create a consciously ahistorical and contemporarynsoundscape which preserves this multiplicity, combining voice, lute, theorbo, piano and electronics. Mary Stuart’s significance in art and myth provides a wealth of inspiration for exploring the complexity of the human mind and the universal emotions unleashed by her story. Passion —Mary Stuart’s preference for following her heart rather than the straight and narrow — her profound loneliness throughout the long years of her captivity, and the oppressiveness of her historical and social position are three key points of departure for the creators of this performance.
In order to source pieces for their performance, Binon and Vanden Eynde have turned, on the one hand, to the rich musical context in which Mary Stuart lived, including works by William Byrd, Claudin de Sermisy, Robert Johnson, Thomas Tallis, and others. On the other, they drew from compositions which take her as their subject: the heart-rending Lamento della regina Maria Stuarda by the Italian composer Giacomo Carissimi, Schumann’s Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, and instrumental passages from Gaetano Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. A composition competition was also announced to provide some of the sonnets dedicated to Mary, Queen of Scots by the Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky with musical settings. Additional sources of inspiration include the songs from the Nazi-era film Das Herz der Königin and Thomas Edison’s 1895 short film The Execution of Mary Stuart. The project forges new relationships between voice, lute, theorbo, piano and electronics: a prepared piano provides the basso continuo, there is an orchestral reduction to be played on the theorbo, the electronics are a binding leitmotif, and the voice is an accompanying instrument. The various possibilities opened up by this combination of instruments is reason enough to go in search of unexpected sounds, with Luciano Berio’s Recital I (for Cathy) lighting the way. With careful dramatisation and sensitive direction, the project could grow into a chamber opera with solid musical and dramatic underpinnings, above which Mary Stuart’s complexity as a character would truly get a chance to shine.


Marie-Friederike Schöder, soprano
Maryam Alkhondy, singing
Lucia Froihofer, baroque violin
NN, Persian instrument
Liam Fennelly, viola da gamba
NN, Persian instrument
Sofie Vanden Eynde, lute & theorbo & artistic direction
Michael Hell, harpsichord


Lieselot De Wilde, voice
Hassan Boufous, voice
Sofie Vanden Eynde, lute, theorbo & artistic direction
Ahmed El Maai, kanun
Bart Jacobs, harpsichord and organ

IMAGO MUNDI is currently developing a new programme exploring the transience of life (vanity of vanities, all is vanity) and memento mori. Alongside Renaissance and Baroque pieces from the Christian tradition, the programme will feature repertoire from Islamic cultures surrounding the Mediterranean.