James McVinnie


23 September 2020

On a Magic Carpet in the Aa-Kerk

On 23 April 1710, the recently built tower of the Aa-kerk in Groningen collapsed, killing two people and destroying the organ, which had been installed by Arp Schnitger 13 years earlier. The tower was rebuilt but the organ gallery remained empty until 1815, when another Schnitger organ, dating from 1702, was relocated there, where it still stands. It is one of the supreme surviving examples of Schnitger’s work (though with alterations and additions from later organ builders), and speaks with an amazing clarity and beauty into the long, high, bright, plain church interior. I first got to know the instrument in 2014, playing a concert of music by Nico Muhly and Philip Glass.

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