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Organs come in different sizes

Baptism in Kloster Knechtsteden, Dormagen (06. October, 2018)

 

I’m certainly no stranger to traveling about and playing a service by special request (directly hired by a couple for a wedding or by the parents for a baptism). In a way it’s kind of fun, to use the opportunity to get out, explore new places where one doesn’t normally go or might not normally play. One such opportunity came to me: to play a baptism in Kloster Knechtsteden, which is apparently a fairly well known place within Nordrhein-Westfalen (but I hadn’t heard of it until then). Above you see pictures of the main Baroque gate, the main sanctuary, and the organ located on the side of the church. Sadly I didn’t take more pictures of the outside, but it’s a lovely location – complete with its own brand beer, Knechtstedener Schwarze, at the restaurant near the entrance!

Baptisms – as well as weddings – are always a gamble in terms of whether the congregation are active singers or not. Regardless of that, generally there’s only a handful of music that is generally chosen, so none of the songs that were chosen by the parents beforehand had concerned me (except “Ins Wasser fällt ein Stein”, but that’s to be discussed in a different blog.) What can however give any organist more of a challenge is the need to spontaneously adjust to whichever instrument they are subject to in a foreign church. Are the pedals old Baroque and widely spaced? Is the mechanical action unreasonably difficult to play? What is the distribution of the registers and where do I find them? Are all the reeds currently tuned?

I arrived reasonably early in order to get a quick glimpse at the organ. Unless I’m playing a concert, I don’t need too much time to become acquainted with the instrument, especially when one rarely needs the heavier registers (mixtures, reeds, etc.) for smaller services. I met the parents at the church and they led me inside. I was originally surprised to play in such a large space for a small service, so I was very curious about the instrument. We walked along the side, we came to the organ – which was somewhat smaller that I expected, but OK – but then they kept walking. Then we turned left and came to a small chapel in the front corner of the church, which caught me completely by surprise:

 

Despite the performance “handicap”, the parents were both very pleased with the overall playing (even though we skipped one song because the pastor rushed over it). One thing is for sure: traveling and playing certainly isn’t boring. The best part? I created my first meme from the situation:

Kloster Knechtsteden

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