Organ Festival Holland 2023
European music in times of war and peace
23 - 30 JUNE 2023
The commemoration of 450 years of the Relief of Alkmaar reminds us of the wars of the past but also of those of today. Our republic and our city of Alkmaar resisted Spanish rule in the Eighty Years' War and in our neighbouring countries the Thirty Years' War raged from 1618 onwards. Both wars are linked to the Reformation and are often referred to as religious wars. However, the power-political element prevailed. The Van Hagerbeer-Schnitger organ has a beautiful painting on its organ shutters depicting the triumph of David after defeating the giant Goliath. Was Alkmaar in 1573 David winning from the Spanish giant Goliath, today Ukraine fights against its great neighbour for its independence and survival.
This organ festival will host the association European Cities of Historical Organs (ECHO), founded in 1997. Members of ECHO's artistic committee will form the jury of the international organ competition this time. They will also present music of European origin, music that seeks to express a wide range of emotions. For instance, battle is voiced by Spanish and Portuguese Batalhas and Heinrich Schütz composed 'Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich' to mark the Peace of Münster in 1648, which ended both European wars. There is also music from Alkmaar by Willem de Fesch and Tielman Susato. With its old dances, such as the Pavane, the music collected by music publisher Susato gives a good impression of what repertoire might have sounded in Alkmaar at the time, perhaps even during the siege.
The Alkmaar organs show their versatility in dialogue with other instruments such as violin, oboe and voice, including in a concert of organ with percussion and arrangements to the music of rock musician Frank Zappa. Through his music, this festival aims to be a sounding board and refuge for everyone's sense of grief and mourning as a result of wars.