silence #13: sweelinck

6 July 2018

Early in the morning the Oude Kerk is a meditative oasis in the city, with an enervating sunrise that casts light through the church’s towering windows. At this early hour you can enjoy the Silence music programme, which provides a contemplative contrast to the normally hectic city centre. In collaboration with Giorgio Andreotta Calò, the Oude Kerk has organized a new series of Silence concerts, each of which takes place on the first Friday of the month, from June through September.

silence – anastasis
Giorgio Andreotta Calò makes a statement using a simple intervention: he bathes the Oude Kerk in red filtered daylight. This new work, Anastasis, isa red veil that alludes to the building’s two-fold history: it contrasts the warm, colourful atmosphere of the the Oude Kerk’s Catholic past against the visual emptiness since the Calvinist Iconoclastic Fury of 1566 and the Reformation of 1578. All the sounds used for the Silence concerts during Anastasisare associated with the space of the Oude Kerk itself: the organs, the bells and the choral music of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who served here as organist for 40 years. Each concert is performed at a different location within the church, moving with the sun around the space in the months of June, July, August and September. The first concert, with Zeno van den Broek, took place in the Lady Chapel. The second, wholly acoustic concert takes place in the Sanctuary, the third concert in the Sebastian Chapel, and the fourth with the Oude Kerk’s two monumental organs on the northwest side of the church.

silence #13: sweelinck
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck embodies the upheaval of the Reformation in the Oude Kerk, having lived across the two eras that Giorgio Andreotta Calò refers to in his exhibition. Sweelinck was a young Catholic composer and organist, who no longer played during church services after 1578: from then on people sang a capella. On listening to his settings of psalms for multiple voices one hears the work of a brilliant mind, who with splendid arrangements introduced the new psalm book of Geneva’s Protestant Reformers to the people of Amsterdam. But he was also a universal musician who set secular poetry to music, such as the beautiful Yeux, qui guidez mon âme en l’amoureux voyage– ‘Eyes, that guide my soul on its amorous journey’ – a sonnet about sight, the sun, light, resurrection from ashes.

The concert on 6 July is being held in the Sanctuary. During the Catholic era this section of the church was the sacred focal point of the Mass, while after the Reformation it was totally empty, a section of the church closed off by a rood screen. Besides the French sonnet Yeux, qui guidez mon âme en l’amoureux voyage, during this concert the audience can enjoy a number of psalm settings by Sweelinck, sung by Cressida Sharp (soprano), Sophia Patsi (mezzo-soprano), Kaspar Kröner (alto), Joao de Moreira (tenor) and Matthew Baker (bass). The concert will be rung in by one of the Oude Kerk’s bells, the F, which bears the Latin inscription: Delectat roseo surgens aurora cubili: delectat rediens vespere grata quies– ‘The delights of pink-hued dawn rising invigorates us; the quiet, ever-returning evening refreshes us.’

music in the oude kerk
The Oude Kerk boasts an impressive musical history and in the sixteenth century was one of the first places in Northern Europe where audiences could enjoy public concerts that were easily accessible. In November 2016 the Oude Kerk launched the Silencemusic series, with concerts early in the morning that correspond with the Oude Kerk’s art programme and the context of a monumental historic building. In these concerts the Oude Kerk presents itself as a new platform for contemporary spatial music: audiences and musicians explore the building together, in different places and ever-changing choreographies.

forthcoming editions of silence
Friday, 6 July, music by Sweelinck, including psalm settings and Yeux, qui guidez mon âme en l’amoureux voyage
Friday, 3 August, a concert with composers / sound artists BJ Nilsen & Zeno van den Broek
Friday, 1 September, a concert with bells, organs and electronics, composer Claire M Singer in association with composer / organist Jacob Lekkerkerker.

silence # 13: sweelinck
6 July 2018, 08:00 – 09:00 am
Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein (de wallen), Amsterdam
Price: 10 euro (online tickets)
(free entrance with museumkaart, we are public-pas or vriendenpas)

photo credits: maarten nauw