This morning I attended the Christmas services of the Ekklesia Leiden (Holland). A liberal church community in the university town of Leiden which gathers every week at the Hooglandse Kerk. A beautiful building stemming back from the 14th century.
A 2013 review in the newspaper Trouw already noted that ‘…apart from ‘Our Father’, the score of Huub Oosterhuis songs was 100 percent’. This morning, apart from ‘Our father’, only 4 out of the 6 songs from were from this author; a decrease to 67%…
The ‘participant pastor’ Christiane van den Berg -Seiffert meditated on Matthew 2: 1-12 (from the translation of Naarden), the story about the magi. She noted that they must have had patience (to watch the skies night after night), and did not know exactely what they were looking for and where (hence they visited king Herod first). She concluded by pointing at the mystery of X-mas: People longing for God (symbolized by the shepherds and the Magi,) and God longing for people.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to assist my good friend and great organist Philip van den Berg to manage the registers of the organ of the St. Anton Kirche (Church) in Zurich for a Wedding Mass. The St. Anton Kirche is Zurich was built between 1906 and 1908 by the famous Swiss architect Karl Moser (1860-1936), who was also responsible for the ‘ Kunsthaus’ in Zürich (the main art museum). I haven’t included any pictures of the facade of the church, because it was covered for a renovation.
Until this week I never knew that the registration of a church organ was so complex. The organ, build by Kuhn from Männedorf (CH), has around 200 valves . These need to be set before and, which is much more stressful, during the performance.
Philip van den Berg played a number of beautiful works – most of them extremely challenging from a technical point of view:
Johann Gottfried Walther, Organ Concerto in F. (Albinoni transcription)
Georg Friedrich Händel, “Lascia ch’io pianga” aus Rinaldo
Camille Saint-Saëns, Bénédiction nuptiale
Sigfrid Karg-Elert, Nun danket alle Gott
I personally do not particularly like church organ music. Main reason is that in the protestant churches I attended in the Netherlands, most organists seemed to be specialized in distorting the bass sound of their organs with the same intensity as Jimi Hendrix when he distorted the sound of his Fender guitars. Until the day of today I still wonder if and why people actually enjoy listening to this. I absolutely love Bach, but I am always trembling when, after the first couple of bars, the organists start moving to the lower registers and use their organ pedals in his Toccata.
Coming back to the playlist, I absolutely love the pieces by Johann Gottfried Walther, Organ Concerto in F. (Albinoni transcription) and Camille Saint-Saëns, Bénédiction nuptiale. For me this is a completely different class of performance and of organ music then I was used to. It opened my ears (and eyes!) to the beautiful music church organs can produce.
All pictures are taken with an Olympus OMD-EM10 camera in combination with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 35mm f/1.8 fixed lens. I really love this lens: it is fast, built extremely sturdy and the optics are fantastic. The pictures were taken without flash, in RAW and post-processed in Adobe Lightroom.