VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 9/10/2011
Ladies & Gentlemen, It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to our – if I may say so myself – magnificent concert hall. We chose to design the Orgelpark in this luxurious manner, to serve our mission: to present the organ in new ways, thus integrating it into the wider musical culture. In order to attain such a goal, nice instruments and good acoustics are just the beginning; modern audiences rightly value a welcoming and stylish atmosphere as well. A new example of the combination of these elements can be seen taking shape on the balcony behind you: we’re building a new organ, designed to render performances of the French Romantic organ literature with just the right bon gout on the one hand, and contrasting with our marvelous German romantic organ on the other. Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a special day for the Orgelpark. Today, we celebrate the launch of our other key activity. This obliges me, of course, to define our first key activity. Since we opened the Orgelpark in January 2007, we have marketed it as a new and fresh concert venue, staging about one hundred performances per year. I’m quite sure that our colorful palette is rather unique. In fact, any style goes in the Orgelpark, as long as artistic integrity and quality are assured. Hence the wide range of concerts we present each year, varying from contemporary dance events and Bruckner evenings to jazz sets and film presentations. Based on the reactions and the attention we’ve received until now, we’re confident that the Orgelpark is addressing a major musical demand. Now the other basic activity of the Orgelpark, the one we’re introducing today is... musicology. We have spent the last year and a half planning how we could integrate the scientific treatment of music into our performing activities. Eventually we decided to launch a series of musicological research projects, called, and I’m proud to officially announce it here for the first time: the Orgelpark Research Program. But why is musicology important at the Orgelpark? Why should a concert venue initiate and support musicological research? For me, its self explanatory; undertaking research is in itself so exciting, often leading to new ways of looking at things, at music. And perhaps even leading to new ways of making music. However, that is just one part of the answer. Our primary consideration was this. To us, music and musicology are two sides of the same coin. Especially at the Orgelpark. The decrease in popularity of the organ, which has undeniably taken place during the past few decades, and which provided the impetus for the Orgelpark in the first place, was accompanied by an almost inevitable side-effect: serious musicological consideration of organs and organ music decreased as well. Of course, one can still study organ related musicology at the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, the two universities offering full time musicology study programs in the Netherlands. But I’m sure I’m not exaggerating when I say that it doesn’t happen very often. In fact, we’re witnessing the end of an era. Utrecht University was long famous for its attention to organology, the musicological study of organ building. But the days when that University could actively foster this special tradition seem to be over. In addition, the special chair ‘Ars Organi’ at the Free University at Amsterdam, held by Professor Ewald Kooiman, seems destined to be discontinued in the near future. In the years to come then, organ and organ music related musicology faces the prospect of being somewhat short-changed in the Netherlands, to say the least. A second thought that I’d like to share with you is this. It has always struck me that many organ art related publications, recent dissertations included, focus on the organ and its history, whereas relatively few pay attention to organ music. Does the present situation perhaps offer an opportunity to focus organ art related musicology a little more on organ music and a little less on organ building? Looked at this way, our mission would be well served. And that, in turn, would mean that the Orgelpark is in a position to present organ art related musicology in new ways, just as it does with the performance of organ music. Once again, we seek to integrate organ music into the wider musical culture, with performance and musicology complementing each other in the process. So we have at least two reasons to view musicology as an integral part of the Orgelpark’s mission. We believe that our country, being a paradise for lovers of the organ art, is frankly obliged to find a place for organ music related research. Secondly, this is an ideal moment to focus musicological research a little more on organ music. A third consideration of course, might be the wisdom of supporting our unique array of performances with well-considered arguments, ideas and discussions. Consequently, musicology at the Orgelpark will be obliged to function on different levels. One of them, the popular level, has already become an essential element of our product: the magazine Timbres. We’re happy that many of our ‘Gastvrienden’ – as we call the wonderful people who have decided to support us – and other readers have expressed their appreciation of the magazine as a real ‘eye-opener’ as well as a nice-to- read-and-glance-through magazine. Some even say that it opens perspectives on musical worlds they had yet to encounter. The projects of the Orgelpark Research Program represent the next level of musicology at the Orgelpark. The first project will last until 2011, and will focus on improvisation, that specific and intriguing way of making music spontaneously, as preserved, uniquely in western music, by organists. It’s interesting to observe that organ improvisation, or, to be more specific, improvisation involving the organ, appears to have become an art in itself during the last few decades. No longer related to religion per se, it is increasingly reflects developments in several different contemporary music scenes. The music we present this afternoon and evening reflects this: as well as the ‘straight’ organ improvisation we have already enjoyed, the program also features live film music and ensemble improvisation. The latter will be performed by the contemporary ensemble Computer Aided Breathing, while tomorrow there will be more ensemble improvisation, this time in genuine rock style with organs, guitars and percussion. Finally, maestro Jean Guillou will perform here next week, in true Parisian virtuoso style. Which brings me to a level where I have little more to add. Perhaps just this: the Orgelpark Research Program will be directed by Hans Fidom. He completed his PhD in 2002 at the Free University here in Amsterdam, has written various books and articles on organ art and organ music, and I can assure you: he does know a thing or two. In the Orgelpark, he works in partnership with our artistic director, Johan Luijmes. I’m proud to work with these two – and at least from my perspective – young men. Together we’ll try to re-affirm the basis of the truly magnificent organ art – by providing you with quality organ music and musicology, here at the Orgelpark. Thank you.
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