The esteemed art of the organist has become more and more rare as time has passed, yet Arjan Breukhoven is a master organist. Breukhoven is a international concert organist who performs a great number of concerts around the world every year. One of which will be in Christ Chapel on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. with free admission.
Breukhoven is from Rotterdam, Netherlands and trained at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He last performed at Northwestern in 2016 but will be showcasing his expert improvisational skills here at NW again this year. Yet, he is not only a master organist, but a jack of all trades as he also studied singing, piano, improvisation and choir direction while at The Hague.
He will be playing on NW’s 45-stop, 56-rank tracker action pipe organ in Christ Chapel that was constructed by the world-famous organ builder Jan Van Daalen. The biggest organ that Breukhoven has played on St. Patrick’s Basilica of Fremantle in Western Australia with 127 stops. However, this master organist has also played the organ of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican.
Breukhoven has a wide variety of songs in his repertoire. Between his knowledge of classic pieces such as famous hymns and Beethoven’s “Fifth,” to medleys from the “Star Wars” films and “Pomp and Circumstance,” it seems that there is nothing that Breukhoven cannot play. Throughout his career, Breukhoven has developed his own style of improvisation with his instrument of choice.
On his website, he shares some of his best performances, some of which include improvisations of well known songs. For instance, he plays “Psalm 98” and “I Walk in the Light with Jesus.” Breukhoven even goes as far as playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky Korsakov, a piece originally arranged for the flute, that is incredibly hard to play due to the amount of notes that follow in quick succession throughout the duration of the piece. His fingers seem to fly across the keys.
Also, in these videos, Breukhoven is assisted with the various valves and stops that each organ has. It is known that Breukhoven does concerts with members of his family, and they, at times, travel with him as he tours to aid his art. At the beginning of Sept., Breukhoven had a family concert where he performed with his son and daughter-in-law, a true family event.
His stop at NW is not the only place he will make an appearance. His tour of Iowa will include stops at area churches, such as American Reformed, Immaculate Church and First Christian Reformed Church. Not only will Breukhoven be helping the churches worship but also the students of Dordt and Morningside will be graced by the awarded master organist during September as well. These concerts will be solos and Breukhoven will be joined by the churches’ and universities’ choirs as well.