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Chair Organ Studies / Orgelpark

The Chair Organ Studies at VU University was established in 1987. University Organist and Bach expert Ewald Kooiman held the chair as an extraordinary professor. He passed away in January 2009. In May 2010 Foundation Het Orgelpark (www.orgelpark.nl) established the chair anew. 

The mission of the Orgelpark is to integrate the organ in musical life by presenting it in new ways. Hans Fidom, also leader of the Orgelpark Research Program, holds the chair Organ Studies since 1 May 2010. Initially as extraordinary professor, and as of 1 January 2019 as full professor.

  • Orgelpark Amsterdam | Concert Venue & Research Institute
  • Gerard Brandtstraat 26 | NL-1054 JK | Amsterdam | The Netherlands 
  • Phone: +31 6 537 14 735
  • Mail: j.fidom@vu.nl

 

 

Focus

Organ Studies focuses on the transition the organ is currently going through: after having lived in church for six centuries, it is reinventing itself as the secular instrument it has been in the first sixteen centuries of its existence.

VU/Organ Studies and the Orgelpark play a central role in this international development, which actually deserves to be identified as the New Organ Movement of our time. Pivotal is the Utopa Baroque Organ the Orgelpark conceived and built (inaugurated on 21 March 2018). It is a hyperorgan, i.e. an example of how 21st century organ art may sound like. Characteristic of hyperorgans is their inclusivity:

  • they reflect unconditional pride of the music made on organs in church in the past six centuries, but also the understanding that organs are able to significantly more than church music would ever require
  • they combine respect for traditional organ building skills with appreciation of new interfaces and technology, and hence love for music from the past with an open mind towards new musics
  • in majority located outside concert halls, organs are not only accessible to the sophisticated and rich but also to other people that love music
  • while obviously needing the offline to be able to sound, hyperorgans can be combined online to all kinds of appearances of the so-called Global Hyperorgan; which, in turn, challenges developing listening strategies that combine the online and the offline; as well as new perspectives on what it is to present organ music on in the internet

 

 

Research

In line with its focus, Organ Studies is multi-disciplinary by nature: it touches the fields of Sound Studies, Philosophy, Musicology, Art Studies, History, and Science and Technology Studies. Also the field of Artificial Intelligence starts resonating, as digital organ interfaces are able to collect huge amounts of data regarding the ways music is made.

The main themes are Musicking (Improvisation, Interpretation, Recording, Composition, New Music, Performance History), Organ Building (Historical Sound Concepts, Technologies. Architecture, Design, Painting), History (Sound Heritage, historical integrations of technology, architecture, design, and sound), and Philosophy (What is it to make music, and what to listen to music?).

Organ Studies and Orgelpark Research organize the annual International Orgelpark Symposium (first half of June) in close cooperation. Themes addressed include the Orgelpark Research Projects on Improvisation (2008-2011), Medieval Organ Art (2012-2017), Digital Organ Technology (2014-), Interaction and Mediation between Technology and Listening/Making Music (2013-), and The Art of Voicing (2017-).

The results of the projects are published in the e-book series Orgelpark Research Reports. Like the hyperorgan, they combine respecting history and embracing new technology: the Reports are books, in that reading them is a linear process, yet they contain many music examples and short movies. The reason is obvious: texts about music can only communicate academic aspects, whereas the artistic in music is what its all about. The Reports are available for free at www.orgelpark.nl.

 

 

Education

Honours Course > Music: Listening & Philosophy

6 ECTS. English spoken. Lectures, workshops. Open for any honours student interested in music. Training in listening to music and in thinking about listening as a musical activity. Getting acquainted with the problems challenging music makers and listeners, as well as with composers, musicians and philosophers. Overview of the history of music philosophies. Discussing concepts such as Authenticity, Quality and Meaning. Guest lectures and workshops by international guest lecturers, including pop musicians.

Research Master/Master Seminar > Sound Heritage

6/9 ECTS. English spoken. Lectures, workshops, field work. Information here (Research Master) and here (Master). Sound Heritage explores what sounds and sound concepts have been approved in the past, and investigates under what conditions these might be considered heritage today. What does saving such concepts for future generations actually mean? Artistic activity (listening to sound in music) is a major element in this seminar, to be integrated in otherwise 'normal' academic research strategies.

Artistic Research > Making Music :||: Thinking Sound

How to play hyperorgans, how to compose for them, what is their relevance for future organ art? Specifically designed for artistic students (Schools of Music, Arts Schools). Lectures and workshops by internationally acclaimed professionals.

Tutorials (academic and artistic)

6/9/12 ECTS. Available for university students as well as for conservatory and art school students. Subjects to be suggested by the student. They can be of primarily academic nature (examples: John Cage and the activity of sound / The Art of Recording Music), as well as primarily artistic oriented (examples: How to understand and apply historic sounds in new music / How to play Bach today).

Theses

Students who wish to focus on or just include organ music related research in their theses are welcome.

This option may be especially worthwhile for humanities and philosophy students, musicology students and conservatory students.

PhD's 

Organ Studies offers the opportunity to engage in PhD-research. Themes should be organ (music) related.

PhD's projects succesfully completed so far:

    • Bert Mooiman / An improvisatory approach to nineteenth-century music /  Leiden University / 2021 [promotor]
    • Wim S. Ros / Fundamentum Organisandi / Het orgel in de 15e eeuw, architectuur en ontwerp / Universiteit van Amsterdam / 2019 [promotor]
    • Klaas Hoek / Vormgeving van klank en dynamiek / Leuven University / 2019 [copromotor]

Themes currently under research include The History of Keyboard Temperament in the 15th Century, and Live and Work of Organist Feike Asma

 

 

Curriculum vitae

Next to being Professor of Organ Studies at VU Amsterdam, Hans Fidom is leader of the Orgelpark Research Program, internationally active as an organ expert, and as an organist.

Hans Fidom studied musicology at the University of Amsterdam and Organ Studies at VU Amsterdam. He completed his studies cum laude at the University of Groningen in 1993. In 2002 he took his doctoral degree at VU Amsterdam, with a dissertation on socio-musicological aspects of the German organ scene between 1880 and 1918.  

Hans Fidom is examiner for the Dutch School for Organ Experts and member of the Dutch College of Organ Experts. He was an organ builder for a few years after graduation, in order to get hands-on experience in that field. He was chief editor of the magazine Het Orgel from 1996 until 2006. In 1997 he initiated the National Improvisation Competition for Organists in Zwolle. He was member of the International Improvisation Competition Foundation Haarlem (2000-2007), co-founder and vice-president of the Gerard Bunk Gesellschaft, Dortmund (1995-2007), and member of the board of the Royal Assocation for Music History of The Netherlands (2011-2017). He was vice-president of the Music Committee and member of the later Main Committee of the Art Council Groningen (advisory board of the local government of the city and province of Groningen). Furthermore, he was chief editor of the Encyclopedia 'Het historische orgel in Nederland'. 

Both in Fidom's professional and his personal life, sound and listening to sound is a main theme, whether produced by organs, by loudspeakers, by vintage trucks and cars, or just on the streets. As Jacques Attali once put it: 'For twenty-five centuries, Western Knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible' (Noise / The Political Economy of Music, Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press, 1985. Page 3). Or, simpler phrased, in the words of John Cage: 'I just   l o v e   the activity of sounds...'

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancillary activities

  • Stichting het Orgelpark | Amsterdam | Leider Orgelpark Research Program | 2020-07-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Keywords

  • M Music
  • BH Aesthetics
  • NX Arts in general
  • D204 Modern History
  • ML Literature of music
  • MT Musical instruction and study

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