Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wandering Around Basel

Countryside near Seewen

Day 2: Pipedreams Tour in Switzerland

Our tour group wandered in and out of Basel today as we heard three organs in three churches and also visited the Museum of Music Automatons in Seewen. Each organ had characteristics that would make you wish to be someone who was lucky enough to hear that instrument more than once. From resonant reeds to deep bass foundation notes, the organs, though very different, were outstanding.

We kind of spread out when we arrive at a church. Some of us photograph; some of us pull out music so that if there is a chance, we can play the organ; some of us listen; some of us sleep. Whatever each tour member has chosen, the focus is on the music and the organ that is being played. Here you can see today's guest organist Oren Kirschenbaum way up in the organ loft at Karthauserkirche playing the 1994 Edskes two manual organ. Oren characterized this organ as "one of the finest organs in Basel" and delighted us with his skilled performance.

We also get to see the housekeeping sides of the churches that we visit. Even old and elegant buildings have to have things like fire extinguishers, and brooms, and trash bins. Those three big stones under the choir stalls are probably employed as door stops for the huge door that leads from the church to the sacristy.

Later in the day we visited the Museum of Music Automatons in Seween (pronounced zee-ven) where we not only heard a lecture by David Rumsey who is the consultant at the museum working with the restoration and development of the Welte organ, but we also saw and heard many automated instruments like calliopes and player pianos. Think really big music boxes and you will have some idea of what the museum's collection features.

The museum is a Swiss Federal Museum and the Welte organ that is housed there is the organ that was on the Britannica, the sister ship to the Titanic. So, now think really big ships AND really big organs.

On a different note, I did find and photograph some delightful angel musicians in the Heiliggeistkirche, The Holy Ghost Church. These angels remind me of the angels at Bath Abbey which we saw in 2012 on the U. K. Pipedreams tour.

And finally, Ed and I did walk the bridge between Basel, Germany and France tonight right around sunset. The pastel stormy skies up river gave a soft glow to the evening as we watched barges along the Rhein River and marveled at another day of travel which took us from Germany into Switzerland with a short stroll into France, too.

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