How I fell in love with the Van Eyck Organ.
Or how Consouling Sounds designed a project for the Van Eyck Year 2O2O.
It was the end of 2018 when I first met Catalina Vicens. She was introduced to me as a wonderful, enchanting musician. A scholar also, specialised in historical keyboard instruments. She walked into our store, straight into the home of Consouling Sounds. And from that moment on she sparked in me a kind of imagination that blossomed into the project that is now before us: ‘Organic Creatures’, music in the light of the Jan Van Eyck Year 2O2O, in our hometown Ghent.
Catalina grew up in Chile but she has found a home in Europe - Switzerland to be precise - from where she travels the continent to perform the classical music she specializes in. Recently she has also been working on a PhD studying old music, which brings her to Ghent on a regular basis. Some of her friends in Ghent have told her: “You really should drop by at Consouling, because that’s really a place for you. These people ‘get’ music. These people think differently.” And so we do. And apparently that was just what Catalina needed.
Having been interested in various kinds of music every since her teenage years, there was an immediate understanding between us. I still remember this moment distinctly, when we were sitting opposite a table in our store, sipping a coffee and getting to know each other. As I looked into Catalina’s eyes, I understood this was not just any woman sitting in front of me. This was a dreamer, an entrepreneur, and most definitely, a game changer. I felt humble and was impressed, and I wanted just one thing and one alone: to get the opportunity to build something beautiful together.
And so it occurred that Catalina was looking for partners for her next musical challenge. She explained to me that she was recording organ music on different portative organs, some music was old, and some was new. The combination of all of this made the project too experimental for her usual partners. I was intrigued, because this was not the first time that a classical musician looked for solutions outside the typical network, but it felt rare. I felt we should look into it. Her story continued: “One of the organs is a replica of the organ depicted on van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece”. I listened wholeheartedly, my jaw started to drop a little bit. At that moment I was not even aware that 2019 would be the Van Eyck year in Ghent. I began to feel really intrigued. How was it possible that an organ existed, that was a replica of an instrument of a painting? A painting that was so important to the city I lived in? Catalina explained. I learned all about the wonderful world of instrument reconstructions. And there and then, I fell in love with the Van Eyck Organ. Love on first sight, or at least, on first discovery. For I had not seen the organ at that time, and I still haven’t at this very moment when I am writing this text. But I have plans to go and discover it in person in the very near future.
From that moment on, the project took wings. How it developed along the road during the year that went by, and what you can expect from the concert in May, I will explain in the following weeks. For now, I invite you to follow the story on this page. Our team of storytellers, researchers, musicians, all kinds of people involved in this amazing once-in-a-lifetime project will share with you their experiences. Hope you will be back here very soon!
Co-Founder of Consouling Sounds