Why did the glass organ, extremely popular in the 18th and 19th century, almost completely disappear from the globe? The story goes that the thin, hypnotic sound of the singing glasses can bring about a state of trance. Some people would even have gone insane...
Rogier Kappers, the Glass Grinder, collected hundreds of cognac-, wine-, beer-, champagne and port glasses, and built the only glass organ of the Netherlands. On his transport bike, he rambles around, showing up on street corners, village squares and festivals, enchanting his audiences with old and new songs -from Bach, Beatles and Brel- on the singing glasses.
All my life, I’ve been fascinated by the etheric, mesmerizing sound of the singing glasses. It touches something deep inside me. Five years ago, at age 50, I decided to turn the wheel of my life, leave my succesful career as an international documentary filmmaker, and become a street musician.
I collected hundreds of glasses from second hand shops all over the country, all kind of shapes and sizes I have at home. Slowly, I started to build and rebuild the instrument, endless trying what works and what doesn't: fixating the glasses with glue, velcro tape, small magnets, a soundboard under it, or not...?
My current glass organ (prototype 4) has nearly four octaves, 45 glasses, There are wine glasses, cognac, beer, champagne, port... . Some glasses are cristal, many are normal factory glass.
It’s a great discovery tour to find out which music fits well to the sound glass. There is some music written for glass, even by composers like Mozart and Beethoven, but it's not much: How does SOS from Abba sound on glass, or Stairway to Heaven from Led Zeppelin, Cohen, Brel, the Beatles? And what happens when one re-arranges a jazz classic like Summertime for the singing glasses?
Next to pop evergreens and chansons, I re-arrange work of classical composers for glass: Bach, songs from Schubert, Schumann, and above all the music form the renowned Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. His pervasive minimalist compositions really seem to fit well to the sound of glass.
I don’t want anything else anymore, only spin and grind my glasses, and let all and sundry listen to it. Since one year, I am touring the cities and countryside of Europe, having my glass organ build on a transport bike.
I play on many festivals, I joined - among others - Oerol, Terschelling, La Strada Bremen / Germany, Into the Great Wide Open/ Netherlands, Kleines Fest, Hannover, International Street Festival Dubai etc.
But I also love to play as a busker, just out on the streets, so you might find me next to your grocery store, at the train station, in front of the IKEA on your saturday out, or in a small off track street in some provincial town.