Antwerp, Churches and Tourism
Tourism Pastoral, Diocese of Antwerp (TOPA vzw)


Saturday 12 August 2017


This year, it’ s all about music and the organ

Tijdens de jaarlijkse Antwerpse feestweek rond 15 augustus schitteren de Antwerpse kerken eens te meer in de avondzon voor de jaarlijkse ‘Nacht van de kerken’. Het wordt een feestelijke avond. Muziek en de muziektraditie van de kerken staan die avond centraal. Vooral de ‘koning onder de muziekinstrumenten’, het orgel, zal in de kerken hemels weerklinken. Tal van organisten en muzikanten verlenen hun medewerking.

Not less than 21 churches in the Antwerp city centre and in the Berchem, Deurne and Merksem districts will open their doors for this nocturne. The musical tradition in the parishes will be evoked in many places. Not only the music societies, choirs and orchestras will be featured here and there, but also the song collection and music books. Special attention will also be paid to art objects such as stained glass windows, sculptures and paintings with music as their theme. Sometimes, the musical compositions related to these works of art are quite surprising.

But for churches, the most striking instrument is obviously the organ. Many ancient Antwerp churches are blessed with impressive historic organs, while more recent churches usually feature more contemporary organs. In most churches, the organ will be played during the nocturne. Organists will give explanations and some organs can also be experienced visually on the dais.

The ‘Night of the Antwerp Churches’ will therefore be a unique opportunity to experience Antwerp’s music culture in the churches and to get closer to the organs, the music and the performers.

The churches’ offerings are very diverse:

  • Bells and carillon: in all churches the evening starts at 19.00 with festive ringing of the bells, in the Cathedral of Our Lady immediately followed by a carillon concert;
  • Guided tours are provided in all churches by local or TOPA guides;
  • Concerts: Most places offer organ concerts with well-known organists: Roberto Marini, Emmanuel Van Kerckhoven, Peter Van de Velde, Peter Strauven, Willem Ceuleers, Masako Honda, Anna An, Jan Noordzij, Annelies Focquaert, Steven Moens, Alfons De Meulder, Frans Moors, Joannes Thuy, Nicolas De Troyer, Ludo Van den Bos, Father Kenny Brack, and … also young talent, including students of Emmanuel Van Kerckhoven;
  • music programmes with the Spinetti Consort (Begijnhof church), the Sint-Franciscus church choir (Sint-Franciscus church-Merksem), the Schola Gregoriana Cantabo (Sint-Laurentius church), African choirs (Sint-Walburgis church), Stefaan van den Putte on the Steinway piano (id. ), clarinet player Marc Van Hoorick (Sint-Anna-ten-Drieënkerk), the Cathedral choir conducted by Sebastiaan van Steenberge (Cathedral);
  • A vocal programme with the ‘cocreative singing company Dr Song’ with Jan Bervoets;
  • A programme of “Gregorian chant to 19th century vocal music” and unknown works from the music archives (St. George’s Church);
  • new organ projects: a planned modern organ for the Sint-Norbertuskerk (Orgelmakerij Reil, Heerde, N.) or a newly rebuilt one in the Sint-Franciscuskerk-Ossenmarkt (Kerckhof organ, 1910)
  • Exhibitions: Many churches display art objects, song books, banners or religious artefacts, especially on the theme of music; continuous information about the music tradition in the churches and the organs;

The participating churches and their historic or more recent organs:

The link on each organ refers to the datasheet for that organ on the website

17th century organs

18th century organs

19th century organs

20th century organs

  • The Walcker organ from the Brabant Olive Mountain church (1905)
  • The Kerckhof organ from the Capuchin’s Saint Francis’ (1910)
  • The Klais organ from Christ the King (1930)
  • The Stevens organ from Saints Michael and Peter (1909)
  • The Stevens organ from Saint Franciscus of Assisi (Merksem) (1934)
  • The Gerard D’Hondt organ from Saint Walburga’s (1940)
  • The Gerard D’Hondt organ from Saint Bartholomeus’ (Merksem) (1956)
  • The Pels D’Hondt organ from Saint Lawrence’s (1934)
  • The Pels D’Hondt organ from Saint Rumoldus’ (Deurne) (1967)
  • The Aerts&Castrel organ from Saint Anna’s Selbtritt (Left Bank) (1970)
  • The Bert de Vylder organ from Saint Andrew’s (1979)
  • The Metzler organ from Our Lady’s Cathedral (1993)
  • The Ghislain Potvlieghe-De Maeyer organ from Saint Paul’s (1998)