Les Ventistes is a training project for musicians playing brass and woodwind instruments in West-Africa, coordinated by trumpet player Laurent Blondiau and saxophonist Toine Thys. Together with other musicians and instrument builders, they coach local brass sections in developing instrumental techniques and the maintenance of instruments. The project was started in 2014 in Burkina Faso and has a sequel in the neighboring country of Benin since 2020.
The Benin Brass School is a new collaboration between the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (FWB), MetX and the Benin Government. In February, Laurent and Toine went to Cotonou with percussionist Jean Gnonlonfoun and luthier Mark Paeleman for a series of workshops with local brass instrument players and saxophonists. They worked on technique, rhythm and harmony, but also helped to train five local luthiers. Two of these craftsmen may come to Belgium later this year for a more elaborate training. A follow-up trip to Benin is also planned for November.
The idea for this project arose in 2014 with Les Ventistes du Faso. During their voyages through West Africa, Thys and Blondiau noticed that relatively few brass and woodwind players were active in Burkina Faso. With the support of MetX, Wallonie Bruxelles International (WBI), Music Fund, Selmer (Paris) and Vandoren, they set up a series of training courses.
From the start, the focus was on instrumental techniques, the development of local brass sections and exchanges with other artistic disciplines (theatre, dance, storytelling, etc.). The project included musical trainings in Burkina Faso, exchange projects with Belgium (AKDT, Lundis d’Hortense, etc.), repair workshops for wind instruments and collecting instruments and equipment from Belgium.
Toine Thys, Laurent Blondiau, Jean Gnonlonfoun