Newsletter December 2014

Organ Festival Holland

December 2014

´Music and Space´

Is the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ going on a space trip? Whatever the case may be, it will, after the expert restoration Flentrop Orgelbouw undertook during the autumn months, once more be able to serve as a time machine to days long gone as well as future times. The impressive Grote St. Laurenskerk, with its 35 meter high vault, will stage the 2015 Organ Festival Holland and sizzle with “Music and Space”. 

The International Organ Competition, the Organ Academy and a choice selection of concerts will fill the cathedral space with music from various ages and styles. “Space” around Alkmaar will also be included in this theme. We will visit the Schermer polder, reclaimed from the waters in the early 17th century and in its handsome churches from those days we will listen to music. As yet unheard, new sounds from the organist/composer Franz Danksagmüller (Lübeck, Germany) and compositions by Piet Kee and Andries van Rossem (NL) form part of the final concert in the Grote St. Laurenskerk.

Piet Kee composed “Music and Space”, for 2 organs and 5 brass players for the Holland Festival of 1969 and its premiere was, at the time, in Alkmaar. Especially for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the VRIENDEN VAN HET ORGEL, Danksagmüller will compose a new piece for the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ, inspired by the festival theme. At the opening concert ensembles formed by students of the renowned Conservatorium van Amsterdam will bring polychoral music from the Venetian school for organ and wind players and of wind players together.

The competition

Young, talented organists and organ students are given the chance to show their skills on the unequalled organs in Alkmaar before an international jury.

How to best convey the music into the space by means of these instruments, is one of the major tasks. Which timbres, which combinations are chosen; which is the right tempo, how much should you articulate and time, how do the organs react: all these choices will influence the final, musical result.

Do jury and audience agree on the ultimate winners? Gripping questions  about music of the future! The board of the International Schnitger Organ Competition hopes and expects a large number of interesting entries and during the competition a large and attentive audience!

The international jury consists of two women and three men, a motley mixture of youthful enthusiasm and experience, of different generations of leading organists and inspiring teachers. The jury members will present themselves in concerts and lectures and display their vision in word and sound.

Philae and the Principal 22’ G

On the day Philae Lander touched down safely on comet 67P, the largest Principal 22’ G pipe landed safely back in the middle tower of the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ in the Grote St. Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. These two occasions have more in common than you would think. Of course, Philae represents contemporary technology at the highest level, compared to which an organ pipe doesn’t seem to be more than a simple, albeit very large, flute. However, this huge lead pipe, 8 meters long, weighing over 400 kgs, was made and installed by Van Hagerbeer in 1645 – surely that was 17th Century high-tech!
At the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, specialists watched the outcome of more than 10 years work – in Alkmaar a strong team of specialists from Flentrop Orgelbouw Zaandam, carried out this perfectly prepared and risky operation. Both succesful top teams in their specialist fields!

Why, after 369 years, did this enormous pipe have to be removed from its unique place 25 meters above the ground? It was lead corrosion particularly in the eldest pipe feet which made the restoration of most of the 4000 pipes necessary, but the largest pipe of the Principal 22’ stop in the Pedal was sagging and hadn’t spoken for 20 years. 
The pipe was carefully restored in the church on the 11th of November and was replaced in its usual place a day later in a spectacular manner. A wonderful photo report of these 3 very special days is shown on our web album, a video recording is in the making.

One difference remains: it is expected that Philae will keep functioning for just a limited timespan; the famous Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ however has started a new chapter in its unique existence and will be the brilliant highlight of Organ Festival Holland in June/July 2015!

[Photo report]

Enter the Competition now!

The International Schnitger Organ Competition 2015 will take place between June 26th and July 4th. 
We encourage young organists and organ students to present their CD recording and apply for the competition. All information is available here.

Apply here for the Competition!

Application for the International Organ Academy Alkmaar now open!

The 13th International Organ Academy Alkmaar will be held from June 30th – July 5th 2015. Lessons will be held in the Grote Sint Laurenskerk on both world famous organs and on the Müller organs of the Kapelkerk and the Lutheran Church, all in Alkmaar.
Check out all information here.

Apply here for the Academy!

Visit our new websites!

Our two related websites are now available with a new design and up to date content. Please take a look at

Orgel Festival Holland
Alkmaar Orgelstad
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