Pipe Organs of Greenland

A research project by Randall Harlow

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Welcome to the first web page dedicated to the pipe organs of Kalaallit Nunaat, or Greenland, home of the only Inuit culture in the world with a vibrant and living pipe organ tradition. These pages are an expansion of an article from the January 2010 edition of The American Organist, “The Church of Greenland and the Inuit Organ Tradition”, the culmination of ten weeks of independent research in Greenland sponsored by the Presser Foundation. For more background on Greenland and the goals and findings of this research I direct you to the TAO article. This study represents the most complete documentation of the organs of Greenland to date and the first time all of this information has been made available in one place. A note to future researchers: Greenland is also home to dozens of reed organs not documented in this research, dating back 150 years in some cases. A detailed study of these instruments is simply waiting for the right scholar and outdoor enthusiast to take the challenge. I estimate such a study will require at least 6 months of travel in Greenland and a budget of at least $30K – but don’t let that discourage any of you adventurous organologists out there!

To further explore Greenland and its churches and organs, please use the map below to link to various Greenland towns. You will find additional information and see pictures of the town, churches, and organs. Additionally, you can hear sound samples from organs in Nanortalik, Narsaq, Qaanaaq, and Qaqortoq.

Kalaallit Nunaat is a vast, uncompromising land where 57,000 inhabitants, primarily of Inuit or mixed Danish-Inuit descent, live in towns and villages spread over an area more than three times the size of Texas or four times the area of France. In a land mostly covered in ice and almost entirely devoid of trees, the Greenlandic culture is a unique blend of Inuit and Danish traditions, centered on the ebb and flow of nature, with decidedly European flavors inherited from Denmark. Out of this remarkable country’s complex history comes a unique sacred music and pipe organ tradition.

I would like to thank the Presser Foundation for making this trip possible, as well as Bishop Sofie Petersen of the Church of Greenland for facilitating access to all of the churches and organs featured below.

For information, photographs, and recordings about the organs in each town, please click on a town on the map below or on the list at the left

Map of Greenland

Click on a town name

For comments or questions please visit my website www.randallharlow.com

All text, photographs, and audio recordings © Randall Harlow, 2010

Most of the population data are provided courtesy of http://www.greenland.com

Town of Aasiaat Town of Tasiilaq Town of Nuuk Town of Maniitsoq Town of Sisimiut Ilulissat