Febraury saw a visit to a wonderful church in Frankfurt – Our Lady of Good Counsel in Frankfurt Niederrad – south of the river and off the beaten track. It’s a shame really – most visitors to Frankfurt rarely make it past the skyscrapers and tourist traps of the city center. The church belongs to the parish of St Jakobus and is known as the “Open Church”. Niederrad is a very multi-cultural part of the city and the church features a very busy programme of events and services to attract as many visitors as possible.
There is also a variety of musical activities ranging from choral groups to a big band!
And then there’s the organ. In the early 1980s, this amazing instrument was installed in the church by German organ builder Albiez. It is one of his largest and last organs and features 52 speaking stops across three manuals and pedal. The stops are arranged according to “family” – in other words, all the foundation stops are arranged in columns with the deepest-sounding stops at the top and the higher-sounding stops lower down the column. The foundations are closest to the organists, then the softer sounds (flutes, strings etc) and on the outside, the reeds. It’s a rather clever solution – it allows for easy registration and diminishes the need for visiting organists to search for stops. In 2003, the organ’s electronics were “updated” and a new registration system/sequencer was installed, allowing for thousands of stop combinations to be saved.
The church’s acoustic really adds to the organ’s sound. The church is relatively modern and thanks to bare concrete walls, love ’em or hate ’em, a high ceiling and relatively few “creature comforts”, it has a large and direct acoustic. The organ is easy to hear and, more importantly, easy to record!
Find out more (in German – but Google Translate can help!) on the church’s homepage.
Thanks go to organist Manual Braun for the fun afternoon in the church at the organ.
Check it out on YouTube!