Concert hall aims to match beauty outside with music inside

Xaver Varnus stands with his newly installed pipe organ in a church
Xaver Varnus and his newly installed pipe organ. Photo contributed by Xaver Varnus.
Ed Halverson - - LiverpoolNS | 19-02-2021
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A musician bringing Bach to his venue in Brooklyn is hoping the public will help repair the building.

Organist Xaver Varnus bought the former pilgrim church in Brooklyn last year to transform it into a live music venue.

He has already installed a pipe organ and has now set his sights on restoring the exterior to its former glory.

Varnus has been gathering pictures from the early 1900s showing the church clad with brown brick instead of the white vinyl siding it has today.

“I really don’t understand why this fashion came in the 60s and 70s to cover most of the Nova Scotian churches with this, kind of, white condom but it’s terrible. Maybe it’s very good against the weather but it’s terrible for the look,” said Varnus.

However, before the siding can be replaced, there are some structural issues to contend with as time has caused the walls to go out of alignment.

The pandemic has cut into his plans for performances so he has turned to a GoFundMe page to help get the work done.

To date, he has raised over $6,000 of his $48,000 goal.

Varnus credits his popularity on YouTube for the number of donations he is receiving from around the world.

“I get donations from everywhere, from New Zealand, from Japan, from Korea, everywhere,” said Varnus. “And now I can realize how many people are listening to the YouTube recordings because the people are mostly reacting because of the YouTube Videos.”

Videos of Varnus playing some of the world’s most famous pipe organs have been viewed more than 15 million times.

The organ master has more grand plans for the former church including installing a clock in the tower, something that was not part of the original design.

Varnus says the work he has done on the newly christened Varnus Concert Hall is not going unnoticed by the classical music world’s elite.

“One of the most famous string quartet of Europe at this time is the Kelemen Quartet and they are coming to Carnegie Hall, to New York, at the end of August,” said Varnus. “They just called me two weeks ago and they said after the Carnegie Hall concert they are coming to visit me in Nova Scotia for a week and they want to play two concerts here in my church.”

Depending on what COVID restrictions are in place, Varnus is planning to hold a concert on March 21. Besides being the start of spring, the date is significant for him.

“I always play the great concert on the twenty-first of March because that is the birthday of Bach,” said Varnus.

He understands it can be difficult for someone who hasn’t been raised on classical music to find it accessible. But that’s a perception he hopes to change.

“Maybe I can take a little part of, for local people to opening the gate of the beautiful country of classical music for them.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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