Waldkircher Orgelbau

"ORGANUM XXI" The Sound – Art – Organ in Marmoutier

From now on there are two years to remember: 1710 and 2015

Incredible things happened in the Alsatian town of Marmoutier (28 km west of Strassburg). The sleepy little town has long been an insider tip for cultural and musically inclined, but after this year there will be two pipe organs in the city built 305 years apart but geographically close to each other.

The famous instrument completed in 1710 by Andreas Silbermann stands in the Abbey church dating from the 13th Century. The new “Sound – Art – Organ" with the name “Organum XXI” built by the Jäger & Brommer Organ Company from Baden, Germany, now stands in the European Organ Center, “C.I.P. Point d´orgues“ (Organ Point), which was at one time the barn of a Benedictine Abbey. This unique instrument is installed in the centrally located “Hall aux sons” (Hall of Tone). It consists of 30 tonal colors (ranks) called Sound Islands. These and numerous additional sound effects are controlled by an ultramodern console and 2 touch screens.

A pipe organ is always a highly interesting construction and this instrument allows one to see into many areas generally hidden from view, the manually constructed single wind chests on which the pipes stand, wind generator and the wind canals which direct the wind to where it needs to be when the organist gives the signal.

At first glance a traditional pipe organ with modern tonal resources which produces sound, but one which impressively brings a visitor optically and aurally closer to the subject “organ” and organ sounds truly in the style of the 21st Century. The “Organum XXI“ instrument and the attractions in the other two rooms of the C.I.P. Organ Point in the heart of Europe are an exhibition for children, youth, adults, and seniors alike, but also for organists, composers and students. It is an invitation to hear, understand and admire the organ as an instrument that deserves it´s nickname “The King of Instruments”. This project will long be proof that the organ, even over 2000 years after it’s invention, remains a young, fresh, vibrant and viable instrument for musical expression.

A special effect which is unique world-wide: eight of the stops (including the 16’ Posaune, Principal 8’ and up to 2’) and the keys from low C to a´´´ can be operated from the large touch-screen creating a tone collage or “smear” as a sonic experience. Perhaps an impetus for new music . . .

Truly a marker of achievement on the European organ landscape, the instrument by Silbermann and the “Sound – Art – Organ” by organ builders Heinz Jäger and Wolfgang Brommer of Waldkirch, Germany, will be the pride and joy not only of Marmoutier and Alsace, but of the entire region at the heart of Europe. The master organ builders and their staff have proven that the organ is an exciting contemporary instrument with almost unlimited tonal potential that today can still inspire composers to new musical creations.

Commissioned by:

Communauté de Communes du Pays de Marmoutier-Sommerau

Initiator and project supervisor:

Elisabeth Chowanski

Feasability – conception Organum XXI: ENSCI

Construction Organum XXI:

JÄGER & BROMMER Organ Co., Waldkirch, Germany

As an aside, the region also has a very interesting landscape and local cuisine! Here you can experience firsthand the “dolce vita” !

Information on Marmoutier: