Lutherskerk (Groningen, NETHERLANDS)
The Lutherskerk in the northern city of Groningen (Netherlands) is a place that I tend to visit relatively regularly as it is home to a nice Early Music ensemble that does regular cantata performances in addition to hosting stand-alone concerts.
The wood and stone walls/floors make for a beautiful acoustic to play in, and the church is a comfortable size which allows for good contact with the audience. Most importantly, the fact that it is a smaller church size rather than a huge cathedral means that it is easier to keep warm in the colder months. Definitely an important consideration for a musician who is trying to move their fingers in the middle of winter!
The outer street facing facade of the church is that style unique to The Netherlands. It can be quite difficult to realise that you are passing a place of worship! Catholic churches can be even more non-descript in their outside street appearance.
It is a holdover from a time in history when the non-state religions were tolerated but not allowed to be actively seen in public. So, you would have a large cathedral or church in the town... and the other sects of Christianity would have little churches hidden behind a street facade. Weird, but cool!
The Lutherskerk is a lot older than I had realised. It hails from the late 17th century and is now protected by the Rijswijk-monumenten program of protected historical buildings.
Of course, the more directly interesting things other than the church acoustic and warmth as a musician are the organs that have been built into the space. The organ lofts house two large organs... most notable, as they are incredibly large for the size of the building that they are actually housed in!
This means that when they are playing at full-pelt... you really feel the building shake!
The previous organ picture, is the older organ... built in the 19th century.. a very nice Romantic style of organ. However, the real pride of the church is the recently built organ pictured above... an organ that was built in the Baroque style in 2017. It's the organ that I have the most experience playing with, as it is the one that is used for performances that I take part in.
It has an interesting set up, where there are two coupled keyboard units that use the same pipes. So, it is possible to have a continuo player playing on one of the keyboard setups (the full church sized one) and then the conductor playing on the smaller keyboard set up (more like a small positive organ). An interesting modern day evolution on an older design template!
Finally, I'll just round out the post with a few of the beautiful stained glass windows that adorn the second floor of the church. They are well lighted from the outside, but due to the buildings that surround the church (remember that it is quite cramped between buildings as it was a disguised church) it isn't quite as spectacular as if it had full sunlight being able to shine on it!