You could argue Europe’s longest-serving and most awe-inspiring music venue is the church. For almost two millennia, astounding and technically innovative musical performances have been staged in churches using one of the most complex instruments in the world, the organ, and one of the most universal, the voice. The carillon, or church bell, completes the triumvirate. Once the master clock of the community, the carillon can still be heard resonating through streets today. It’s a lasting reminder of the social significance and omnipresence of these crucial heritage sites.
On Saturday 30 November international music festival Rewire and RE:VIVE, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s initiative connecting musicians and the public with its national archive, launched Resonance. The day featured a contemporary music and discourse programme in the Stevenskerk, the oldest and largest church in Nijmegen, celebrating the three aural pillars of the church: the carillon, the voice and the organ.
Dutch composer Martijn Comes, who has a history of composing modern works for the carillon, presented a newly commissioned piece for the Stevenskerk’s bells titled ‘Radiance’, a poetic interpretation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 from the Old Testament. Visitors will experience the piece outside the Stevenskerk before entering the building for Comes’ second performance using tape recordings and electronics, titled ‘Time’. Both pieces have been developed with guidance from drs. Tom de Haan from St. Bavo church in Haarlem.
Modern minimalist composer Kali Malone presented original compositions on the Stevenskerk’s monumental 18th century König organ, performed together with Erik Enocksson, composer of haunting film scores. Malone’s work explores the interplay of synthetic and acoustic instrumentation, most notably the pipe organ, as heard on her current album, ‘The Sacrificial Code’, recorded on three different organs at the Royal College of Music of Stockholm, the Studio Acusticum concert hall in Piteå and the Haga Church in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Otherworldly drone choir NYX completed the music programme. NYX are a six member vocal troupe who are reshaping the role of the traditional female choir with ambient and ecstatic soundscapes that explore the spectrum of the collective female voice as an instrument.
Parallel to the music programme, during the day there was a workshop for musicians and a discourse program with experts from the music and heritage world.
This event is part of the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, programma Toekomst Religieus Erfgoed. Further info about the Rijksdiensts full Kerk & Kunst program can be found at: https://www.toekomstreligieuserfgoed.nl/.
Image: Flip Franssen