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KlangRaumZion – Zionskirche Berlin

Europe: Heritage Lived KlangRaumZion - Zionskirche Berlin

For an organ ready for the 21st century and for the restoration of the church interior
With the joint project by the Protestant parish of am Weinberg and the Förderverein Zionskirche e. V. (the Zionskirche development association), KlangRaumZion (SoundSpaceZion), we intend to bring sound and space back together again. Our vision is one of a space for experimental devotional music, a centre for contemporary spiritual music with the radiant power to reach out internationally. The project foresees a restoration of the church space, preserving the marks and scars of history as a memorial to the events that created them, combined with the construction of a new organ designed especially to meet the needs of contemporary musicians.

Zionskirche – A chronicle of upheaval
The Zionskirche is intimately connected with recent German and European history. Built between 1866 and 1873 and consecrated in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck, it was at the centre from the very start in dealing the social problems that affected a city in breakneck expansion through rapid industrialization. The renowned Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who conducted confirmation classes at the Zionskirche, felt bound to grapple with the strained social circumstances of his charges. In the autumn of 1987, the church became the focus of history as the opposition Umwelt-Bibliothek (environmental library) housed in the parochial house was forcibly cleared by the East German Stasi, inspiring a storm of protest that was to become a beacon of the civil rights movement in the GDR. Today the parish, once one of the city's most notoriously run-down working class districts, has become a desirable residential neighbourhood that now faces the problems of gentrification, though the area is bounded on one side by one of the starkest social barriers in Germany, directly along the line where the Berlin Wall used to stand.

The new organ – A visionary instrument
Sound and space are inseparably interwoven together in the Zionskirche. Yet one of these two dimensions has been absent since the church's original organ fell victim to the Second World War. The new organ will be designed to combine conventional with experimental registers and to make it possible for visitors to experience the unique acoustics of the Zionskirche once more. Thanks to its great flexibility in configuration and the broad palette of timbres it will have available to it, the organ is designed especially to meet the needs of contemporary organ music and to be suitable for use in a wide variety of performance formats. KlangRaumZion will have room to develop its own unique character in Berlin, a city ranking at the very top in the world of contemporary music.

A unique opportunity
The church's space, indelibly marked by its eventful history – by the upheavals, changes and tensions it has seen since its construction – makes it a symbol of the decisive experiences that were to shape our culture right up to today, in the language of contemporary music too. A lively, open and active parish in a dynamic city, a fascinating sacred space and the unique opportunity become involved in a new musical concept, without being restricted by to what is already there. That is the hugely promising background before which we are pushing the KlangRaumZion project forward. A series of events starting at the end of 2018 will give an impression of the future of the KlangRaumZion.