We, the musicians of the Castello Consort have a passion for sixteenth- and seventeenth-century music. We specialize in the historical performance of this repertoire by researching this all aspects of this music. Nowadays the use of appropriate (copies of) historical instruments is taken more and more seriously, except in the case of organs. Luckily there are several ensembles that play and record Bach cantatas with historical church organsTip: the wonderful recordings of the Dutch Bach Society in the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam (allofbach.nl)., but in the music before Bach (which we perform) it still happens very rarely. The organ has such a prominent position within the early music, and that is why we would like to help change the way musicians use the organ in 'historical' performances of early music.
In most of the 'historically informed' early music concerts, chest organs are used. These are usually ingenious and well-built instruments. However, they were not invented until the twentieth century, so in that respect they have nothing to do with early music. They could have been built before, but they were not. The reason for this is that in order to make a practical and flexible chest organ, many compromises have to be made in the sound, tuning, and other essential qualities of an organ. When smaller organs were built, they were usually 4' or 2' instruments with a limited compass. Stopped (gedackt-)registers, which became the basis of most chest organs, were very unusual in early (Italian) organs. They might have been used as an additional variation in sound, but never as a replacement of the rich and warm Principale sound. The reason for this is that the sound of such 'stopped' organ pipes lacks speech, projection and overtones, which makes it not suitable for supporting ensembles.
The experts of EarlyMusicSources made a wonderful video, explaining (and showing) all the differences between historical organs and chest organs.
Who will be using the organ?
The organ will not only be used by the Castello Consort - we especially want to stimulate other ensembles to use it too! The organ will be managed by a separated organisation, the Stichting 17e-Eeuwse Muziekinstrumenten (Foundation for 17th-Century Musical Instruments). This foundation was established especially for this organ, and will take care of the maintenance, preservation and rental of the organ. The organ will most probably be placed in MOOOF, a cultural centre in The Hague (NL), which makes it easily accessible to all potential users.
Education & science
We will especially stimulate educational and scientific/musicological use of the instrument. It will be possible to rent the instrument for only the necessary costs (maintenance, transport, etc.), making it very attractive for music students and musicologists to use the organ.
Collaborations with various musical institutions on The Netherlands (Royal Conservatoire of The Hague) will give music students the possibility to get the unique experience of playing an instrument that represents the Italian seventeenth century. In big ensemble projects and individual lessons/masterclasses they can learn about (historical) registrations, playing basso continuo on a 'big' organ and using a short octave and split keys.
Of course the organ will also be used in the regular concerts of the Castello Consort. Besides, we will collaborate with various concert series (and festivals), where the organ can be used in repertoire ranging from very early to contemporary music.