Day 6: Schnitger and Schnitzel
by Brandon Santini
Friday morning began as most days: light breakfast, running around getting ready to go out, looking for sheep, etc. However, today we did this all in the 6:00 a.m. hour. Our goal was to be packed, clean the kitchen, and be ready to check out at 7:00 a.m. Chris Porter cleaned the kitchen, Cho helped consume leftover food, and we all essentially played the role of busy ants running back and forth.
We left, for all intents and purposes, on time, with a necessary arrival time in Hamburg, Germany at 11:00 a.m. Miraculously, we reconvened at exactly 11:00 at the Jakobikirche and were greeted warmly by Gerhard Löffler, the resident organist. Upon entering the cavernous sanctuary, we were struck by the presence of the large façade of the famous Arp Schnitger organ. A few details about the instrument: built in 1693, it lived for many years high on the rear wall of the church until it was dismantled, and the pipes were put into storage under the church, during World War II. A fortunate thing that was — due to the heavy bombing, this is the only early historic instrument in the city that survived. The wooden casework of the instrument, however, was destroyed — so, when it was reconstructed, a new choir loft was constructed and the organ received a replicated home to be situated high up above the choir loft... sort of as a second balcony. Parts of this 1693 instrument even come from previous instruments, and the instrument contains two 32’ stops on the pedal: a Prestant in the façade and a Posaune (Trombone).
Mr. Löffler treated us to a choral fantasia by Franz Tunder on the chorale Komm, heiliger Geist, and the big Toccata in F, BuxWV 156 by Dietrich Buxtehude. They were very well played, and demonstrated many colors of the organ along with the room’s remarkable acoustic.
We then had about 90 minutes to play the organ ourselves, which was truly eyeopening, given the immense selection of timbres we could choose from. After we each had a go at the instrument, we packed up and left this historic venue in search of lunch. We walked to the Binnenalster (an urban lake) in the middle of the city and found a hip, touristy spot that served schnitzel. No trip to Germany is complete without some schnitzel!
By this point, it was getting into the late afternoon...close to 4:00 p.m. We decided to split up to explore the city and planned a rendezvous spot behind the Jakobikirche at 7:00 p.m.. Cho and Jennifer went to check out the newly constructed Elbphilarmonie (the Hamburg symphony hall) which sits along the Elb river. En route, Jennifer ran into some old friends (gosh, it's such a small world...!) and they found themselves at the Miniature Museum instead. This museum is dedicated to miniature trains, and is a world famous mecca for train enthusiasts.
Three for three, we all arrived punctually at 7:00, loaded into the cars and set off for the airport. The next leg of our trip, until Wednesday, is in Göteborg, Sweden. Flight delayed, we had extra time in the airport to eat and relax (Corey went to an airport massage station...maybe that’s not a thing in the US? I’ve never seen them before). Our flight left at 10:00 and after a quick one-hour flight, we were much farther north...at the same latitude as Scotland and Nova Scotia. In the taxi, I remarked how it was midnight yet the sun still had not fully set. in summer, very long days and very short nights, indeed.