Divine Sounds out of Barn Church

It is an old wooden church, built on the outside to look like a barn, located on the Papenpad along a small canal in the picturesque town of Zaandam, the Netherlands. Dating back from 1659, and completely restored in 1927, it was recently sold to a foundation, founded by the famous violinist Mathieu van Bellen with musicians Maria Milstein and the brothers Omri and Ori Epstein, together they have transformed the complex into the music Valhalla: Muziek Haven.

The Old Catholic convent church of St. Mary Magdalene was built in 1695, at the time that non-Calvinist houses of God were only allowed secretly. That is why it looks like a farmer’s barn from the outside, where only the round arch windows show that it is a church.

The interior of the wooden barn church was built in 1659 and is now transformed into a music haven. It is a Dutch national monument and the protection includes the altar, the tabernacle with statues of Willebrord and Bonifacius, the candlesticks, the oak counter for the baptismal room, the communion couch, the pulpit, the cabinet and the vesper chair from the last quarter of the 17th. century.

It has been a national monument since May 29, 1969. There are original statues in the church, including those of Willibrord and Boniface, placed on the tabernacle. Other elements such as the furniture, altar with painting, candlesticks and pulpit are in the style of the Baroque.

The organ from 1714 originates from De Paauw, a shelter church at the Keizerstraat in Amsterdam and was placed here in 1809.

Since 2019, this is the place where Mathieu van Bellen, together with Maria Milstein, Omri and Ori Epstein, realized their chamber music centre. A place where musicians can devote themselves completely to the music.

The church interior with an organ from 1714 and was placed here in 1809. The chandelier is from the second quarter of the 17th century. Due to the special acoustics, concerts and recordings are given here.

It is a location that offers young chamber musicians the opportunity to develop their skills and discover and form their personal and collective musical identities. Here they can prepare themselves for concerts and competitions.

The parsonage has several smaller rehearsal rooms and accommodation for visiting musicians. In addition to the rehearsal room, the church also serves as a concert hall. It has excellent acoustics and is suitable as a studio space for recordings. In the main building with 150 seats, concerts are given.