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Organ Recital At Cologne Cathedral


John Robinson
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I have persuaded my long-suffering wife to accompany me on a three-day break to Cologne this summer, specifically to attend the organ recital on Tuesday 5 August.

 

According to their web site, organ recitals are held every Tuesday over the July - August period, starting at 8pm and finishing at 9pm.

 

On the web site, one is advised to arrive early because of the popularity of these recitals.

 

If anyone is familiar with these events, could you tell me what an 'early' time would be?

 

Also, I'd be interested to know who is performing and the programme: these details are not provided on the web site.

 

Many thanks for any advice.

 

John

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My only experience is of being there with the IAO Congress two years ago. Admittedly, the audience was augmented by 350 or so British organists; but, even had we not been there, the cathedral would have been full. With us there it was full and standing. One of the staff told us the place seats 3,000.

 

It's obviously quite common for all the seats to be taken, because people were arriving with folding garden chairs. Imagine trying to get into St Paul's or the Abbey so equipped!

 

I would say that if you want a decent seat, get there no later then 7.15. Later than that and you will be at the back of the nave or stuck in a transept with no idea where the sound is coming from. Expect to be seated shoulder to shoulder. Take something to read - and perhaps a cushion.

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My only experience is of being there with the IAO Congress two years ago. Admittedly, the audience was augmented by 350 or so British organists; but, even had we not been there, the cathedral would have been full. With us there it was full and standing. One of the staff told us the place seats 3,000.

 

It's obviously quite common for all the seats to be taken, because people were arriving with folding garden chairs. Imagine trying to get into St Paul's or the Abbey so equipped!

 

I would say that if you want a decent seat, get there no later then 7.15. Later than that and you will be at the back of the nave or stuck in a transept with no idea where the sound is coming from. Expect to be seated shoulder to shoulder. Take something to read - and perhaps a cushion.

 

Thanks, Nick. Sound advice.

 

I think, bearing in mind that this is really the sole reason for our visit, we shall go as soon as they let us in!

 

I don't know whether it is anything like many places in the UK, where they close up for daytime visitors, kick everyone out, then re-open for the recital.

 

If possible, we'll go in for a look round in the afternoon, then pitch our tent right at the crossing! I don't know about the feasibility of cushions, though. Thankfully, both my wife and I are quite well padded where it counts.

 

Also thankfully, my wife doesn't visit this site!

 

John

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I've visited a recital by Colin Walsh in "Koelner Dom" last summer, and after shopping and dinner we arrived about half an hour before the concert would start. To find the cathedral almost filled up to the last seat. Fortunately we found seats at the choirstage at the side (Domplatz side). A friendly woman who was already there greeted us (as she heard we came from Holland) and we asked here if it happened more often having such a crowd. She told us that it was quite 'normal' for the cathedral to be filled up on an organ recital, also, many under-50-aged were there. And indeed people brought there own folding chairs.

 

There was an easy-going introduction, the spokesman highlighted the fact of an English organist playing French music in a German Cathedral - which was interesting indeed. General atmosphere was friendly and quite relaxed, as if people came to have an evening out enjoying music.

 

The Klais organs are superb - prepare for something very big an very (bottom) heavy (64'), though never painfull to the ears.

AFAIK the programmes are listed on the website beforehand, so check again later.

 

Also, you might try visit the CD store at Saturn Hansaring - there you can get bankrupt easily ....

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I've visited a recital by Colin Walsh in "Koelner Dom" last summer, and after shopping and dinner we arrived about half an hour before the concert would start. To find the cathedral almost filled up to the last seat. Fortunately we found seats at the choirstage at the side (Domplatz side). A friendly woman who was already there greeted us (as she heard we came from Holland) and we asked here if it happened more often having such a crowd. She told us that it was quite 'normal' for the cathedral to be filled up on an organ recital, also, many under-50-aged were there. And indeed people brought there own folding chairs.

 

There was an easy-going introduction, the spokesman highlighted the fact of an English organist playing French music in a German Cathedral - which was interesting indeed. General atmosphere was friendly and quite relaxed, as if people came to have an evening out enjoying music.

 

The Klais organs are superb - prepare for something very big an very (bottom) heavy (64'), though never painfull to the ears.

AFAIK the programmes are listed on the website beforehand, so check again later.

 

Also, you might try visit the CD store at Saturn Hansaring - there you can get bankrupt easily ....

Yes they are superb. I remember shortly after the newer (nave) Klais was installed. I was on my third school exchange to Cologne and by the occasion of this trip the organ had been finished and was in use. I remember standing right below it and I was looking up at it. Someone struck up on it with a chord of such power that I jumped about 1ft. in the air!

 

I seem to recall hearing that both the 1948 crossing organ and the 1997 Klais in the nave can be worked form the same console? Either way, enjoy! I am very envious as I haven't been to Cologne in 10 years. I have plans to go back there later this year though and catch up with some old friends who I knew from those exchange trips.

 

Two YouTube clips of the organs at the Cathedral if you are interested:

 

Firstly, Winfried Bönig playing the Toccata from Widor's 5th:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWYDo36huLU

 

Secondly, a clip taken after morning mass: what is that piece? I know someone told me on here but I can't remember.

 

Dave

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Secondly, a clip taken after morning mass: what is that piece? I know someone told me on here but I can't remember.

 

Dave

 

Mendelssohn - Allegro Vivace - F Major.

 

AJJ

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