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  • Writer's pictureMurat Ali Cengiz


Updated: Jun 20, 2022

Early May 2022, I have received a commission from the Office of Metropolitan Information (OMI) to compose and perform a piece based on the Mennonite church in Rotterdam.

Built in 1951 by G.T.J. Kuiper, it is hard to recognize this building as a church from the outside. But it has intricate details and a refreshing interior.

I have spent three days in this space and tried to extract all possible information to create a music composition, starting with the acoustic input:

Acoustics characteristics:

- The most resonating pitches in the room were around concert pitches E-A-B.

- Bell-like and organ-like sounds worked very well as expected.

- There was a very interesting sweet spot between the delay-attack time that I could use on the piano.

- It was a very sensational experience to just listen to the sounds reflecting from the church ceiling.

Historical characteristics:

- The Mennonite or the Dutch baptist religion was an accepted religion in the Netherlands. Meaning that it was "tolerated". As it wasn't officially recognized, the community of this religion had to move a lot around the cities and the country. I tried to use this fact as an ongoing rhythm throughout the piece.

Architectural characteristics:

- The church had a lot of rough materials moulded into smooth forms. The concrete ceiling and the stone floor did not create an unfriendly and cold feeling somehow.

After spending three days and experimenting on the piano there, I was quite fixated on the ceiling. I spent many hours staring at the massive concrete ceiling and trying to hear sound reflecting from it. At some point I have noticed the subdivisions of the ceiling were quite like the windows around it. Almost as if the windows were continuing up to the ceiling but instead of a window to the outside world the ceiling became a window to my imagination.

Working on all these details and making a few sketches, I have put together a piece to perform.

Performance video:

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