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"The Holy Rockers from Darmstadt"
Petra Neftel in the hr main tower, December 28, 2015

"This rock 'n' roll priest drives all the angels crazy"
John Roth in the BILD newspaper, November 26, 2021

"Goose bumps and their consequences"
A pastor and an organist bring rock music to the church
Johannes Breckner in the Darmstadt ECHO November 17, 2021

Overwhelming press judgment in the ECHO
to the concert in Groß-Gerau on June 16, 2019
"Now just let it rip..." (On the concert review by Charlotte Martin)
Deep Organ On Rock - loud and successful
Town Church of Wanfried, October 8th, 2017

A good 200 visitors – most of whom weren't that young anymore – got a real treat on Friday evening. Electric guitar, bass, saxophone, trumpet and drums fused with the large church organ that had just been repaired. No, this time there wasn't Bach and Handel, not even Reger, but Santana, Beatles, Deep Purple, Chicago, The Doors, Iron Butterfly roared through the church and got the audience moving. DOOR is a project involving a total of nine musicians in the Johannesgemeinde in Darmstadt, which was led by Pastor Dr. Schnitzspahn was founded ten years ago. He has found an excellent supporter in Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister, the talented and committed organist of the community. The musicians come from very different professions, but are still a little spiritually "dominated". Two ministers and a preacher from the Free Church rock out with their friends to increase the organist's half position to a full one. Part of the income from the concert supports the Johannesgemeinde, the other part has benefited our organ.

Hessian/Lower Saxony General

They sweep the audience away
"Deep Organ O
n Rock” brought the 70s to life

(On the concert review by Margitta Hild)

Goettingen daily newspaper

This is how D.O.O.R rocks. the church in Sweden

With the D.O.O.R. project, a rocking pastor and his musical disciples brought the sound of the 1960s and 70s to St. Mark's Church in Scheden - and turned the church into a disco. (On the concert review by Jörg Linnhoff)


Magic of light and sounds

Wiesbaden, May 17, 2019 (Stefan Da Re)

Impressive multimedia concert with classic rock and pop music in the English Church

In the Church of St. Augustine's of Canterbury on Frankfurter Strasse, which was filled to the last seat, visitors were able to attend a special concert last Friday (May 17th), when bass riffs merged with organ chords. "Deep Organ on Rock" is the name of the Darmstadt music project around Pastor Gerhard Schnitzspahn and church musician Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister as well as six other musicians, which interprets well-known rock and pop classics. With this impressive musical crossover, the D.O.O.R. project has been delighting lovers of organ and rock music with its sacred sonority for years. The approximately 120 people in the English Church were also able to see this for themselves. The venue proved to be the most suitable. Spotlights bathed the time-honoured columns in colorful light, and a drinks bar made sure that nobody stayed thirsty.
The idea of bringing the band to Wiesbaden came from Stephan Da Re, pastor of the Ev. Johanneskirche and co-organizer of the concert. Together with his colleague Christopher Easthill, the two clergymen got into the spirit of the evening program and afterwards thanked them with chocolates from a well-known Wiesbaden chocolate manufacturer on Wilhelmstraße.
"We are happy and very grateful for a wonderful evening and a satisfied audience," Da Re summed up after the event. Schnitzspahn, who founded the DOOR project in 2007, added: "Today we played all the pieces we can play." Three encores and standing ovations were a clear sign: we liked it!


Laurentius rocked
Laurentius Church Seeheim, September 29, 2017 (Hans Hrausek)

On Friday, August 18th, the gallery in front of the organ shook under the rock music sounds of D.O.O.R. (Deep Organ on Rock – on tour since 2014), with seven musicians in the line-up of church organ, electric guitar, bass, two drums/percussion and two saxophone/flute/trumpet/vocals under the direction of Rev. Dr. Gerhard Schnitzspahn carried away the almost fully occupied Laurentiuskirche. According to Matthew 7:24-27, the church is rock, so why not popular rock music in the church?

Even Martin Luther 'missed' Christian texts from popular music in his day in order to inspire churchgoers with popular music in the church. D.O.O.R tries to combine rock music with the classical organ and thus open up new worlds of sound between old and new music. However, our organ in the Laurentiuskirche had difficulties making itself heard against the other instruments amplified via loudspeakers, but with Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister it convinced with its sonorous sonority and was able to rock along. D.O.O.R played so peppy on the hard rock beat classic rock music from Deep Purple, Santana, The Doors  and others that one could have the impression that the pillars of the church galleries would resonate.


In any case, this was done by the audience and also supported by rhythmic clapping. Our former pastor Dr. Alfred King. Rev. Dr. Schnitzspahn in a short speech and led to the comforting and confidence-inspiring song by Louis Armstrong: What a wonderful wordl, which was interpreted sensitively by Manfred Horschler. Without several encores, D.O.O.R was not dismissed by the enthusiastic audience.
If you want to experience D.O.O.R again, you can do so under various links on                                                      Opportunity.


From rococo to rock; ninth organ mile in Dieburg
Darmstadt Echo, June 26, 2017

Whether gospel, classic or rock: The ninth Dieburg organ mile offered visitors a wide range of music again. The conclusion formed ..."Deep Organ On Rock" in St.Wolfgang with Gerhard Schnitzspahn on the guitar,

Where the priest rocks with the organ
Band project "Deep Organ On Rock" successfully ventures a modern variety of church music
Darmstadt Echo, 1.12.2015 (Alexandra Welsch)

Rock sound from the church

BIRKENAU, 08/30/2018

Darmstadt group "Deep Organ On Rock" plays Santana and Co

Rock sound from the church? Yes! "The classics of rock music in the church" was the motto of the concert of a special kind in the evangelical church in Birkenau. And lovers of rock music got their money's worth here. The group "Deep Organ On Rock" in the Protestant Johannes parish in Darmstadt around the organist Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister and pastor Dr. Gerhard Schnitzspahn (guitar) inspired the Birkenau audience on Sunday evening.

The focus was on pieces by, among others, Deep Purple, Santana, The Doors and Queen - all of them playing together church organ with electric guitar, bass, drums and saxophone. Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister (organ), Pastor Gerhard Schnitzspahn (guitar), Manfred Gerber (saxophone, guitar), Alfred König (bass), Manfred Horschler (brass, saxophone, vocals), Thomas Tschur (drums, percussion), Stefan Distler ( Drums, percussion) and Peter Groth (trumpet) created a great atmosphere.

The concert took place as part of a fundraising project by the evangelical Johannes community in Darmstadt, which means that all the musicians played without a fee and most of the income is intended for this project.

Organ mile: The concert course through four Dieburg churches inspires the listeners
Darmstadt Echo, June 26, 2017

The evening concluded  ... with the tried and tested Darmstadt project "Deep Organ on Rock" around the organist Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister

A pastor who rocks the church

Church-goers with a soft spot for rock: Gerhard Schnitzspahn's band project delights the Johannes community.

Frankfurter Rundschau December 3, 2015 (Alexandra Welsch)

When the band project "Deep Organ On Rock" around the Johanneskirchepfarrer Gerhard Schnitzspahn starts, rock hits sound from the church gallery. And that matters, since for many churchgoers today it's the music they grew up with. The drummer hits his sticks together and drives a boring organ run with cymbal strokes. An e-guitar screws itself in, builds tension with long drawn-out solo tones, until the beat begins and the piece begins to run. The sax contributes the vocal line, which originally sings the voice of Carlos Santana: "I got a black magic woman."

Covering the hit by Latin rock band Santana is nothing out of the ordinary. But what is special in this case is that the whole thing doesn't take place in the Bessung boys' school or on a stage at the Heinerfest: No, the number sounds from a church gallery, played by musicians from the "D.O.O.R." project - which stands for "Deep Organ On Rock" and is an unconventional fusion of church organ and rock music.

The driving forces behind it are Gerhard Schnitzspahn, pastor of the Evangelical Johannes parish since 2006, and Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister (32), organist in the Johanneskirche since 2011. Schnitzspahn (57) is a passionate rock music fan and electric guitarist and has long earned a reputation in the community as a rock'n'roll pastor who likes to break new ground in music in church services.

"Highway to Hell" in front of the altar is taboo

Brand-Hofmeister has always been tempted to think outside the box when it comes to church organ music and to use the instrument openly and experimentally in addition to the traditional varieties. "My motto is: You can play anything on the church organ," says the organist's son. Playing all the music on the organ is “my fun and my life”.

You could already experience that at silent film nights in the Johanneskirche, where he performed improvisations on films like “Metropolis” or “Ben Hur”. Sounds kind of like the Darmstadt church for new organ music, doesn't it? The young man grins: "Yes, that's the way I intend to do it."

And with the rocking priest Schnitzspahn, he has obviously found a brother in spirit. The "D.O.O.R." project, in which all churchmen take part with constantly changing line-ups, has existed since 2007. But after the combo mostly performed as part of a "Night of the Churches" in the first few years, they are now becoming independent of it booked as an act. For 2016, for example, they have been requested for the Pfungstadt notch. And Schnitzspahn doesn't think that's far off the mark: "Kerb is a church fair."

The pastor thinks it is more obvious to bring rock music into the church. He refers to the mission statement of the Johanneskirche: "At home with God and with the people." One should also look the proverbial people in the mouth when it comes to church music. And of those who come to church, many are over the age of 60. “They grew up with this music. How old are the Stones? All over 70.”

"Church music is also proclamation"

According to Schnitzspahn, their performances confirmed that there are quite a few churchgoers with a soft spot for rock. He thinks about their first solitary church concert: People came with walkers - and he was still afraid they wanted to hear Bach now. "But they came because of Deep Purple." Basically, you have to rethink the entire senior work.

But such alternative approaches in a strongly traditionally occupied space are of course not well received by everyone. "There are also voices that find it difficult," says Schnitzspahn. "And in some circles, drums are considered the work of the devil." But for the pastor, the following generally applies: "Church music is also proclamation." And what they wanted to announce with the "D.O.O.R." project was joie de vivre.

The fact that the lyrics in rock music sometimes convey something else is a critical point. In "Black Magic Woman", for example, Carlos Santana sings translated: "She is trying to make a devil out of me." Gerhard Schnitzspahn speaks of a tightrope walk. And for him there are very clear limits: "I would always refuse to play 'Highway to Hell'". The "Highway to Hell" sung by AC/DC is the wrong message for him. "I rather want the 'Highway to Heaven'." (aw)

Rocking sounds in the church
CONCERT Strong performance of the D.O.O.R. project at the organ festival "Org'n X plosion"
Darmstadt Echo, July 25, 2016 (Marc Schüler)

JOHANNESVIERTEL - The Johanneskirche in Darmstadt was very well attended on Saturday evening for the organ festival "Org'n X plosion". After church musician Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister had started with classical pieces by Edvard Grieg and Sergej Wassiljewitsch Rachmaninoff, things got really loud in the nave from 10 p.m. The project D.O.O.R. (Deep Organ On Rock) performed and created a good atmosphere in the church.

It is not without reason that the musicians chose this name. "In Rock" is the name of the first studio album by the well-known group Deep Purple, whose unmistakable sound of Jon Lord's Hammond organ and Ritchie Blackmore's electric guitar delighted the masses. Also in the project D.O.O.R. the focus is on the interplay of organ and guitar.

Church musician Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister elicits the rocking sounds from the classic church organ, while Pastor Gerhard Schnitzspahn plays the electric guitar, accompanied by other musicians such as Manfred Gerber (saxophone/guitar), Alfred König (bass), Thomas Tschur (drums) and Hans -Jürgen Lapple (brass). The result is a sound that is unusual for a church as a concert hall, because it is not uncommon for music in churches to be associated with quiet, slow and deliberate pieces.

"It's also a challenge for us to play in the church," reported church musician Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister, who was playing the organ on Saturday evening. "A church has its own acoustics, so it's not always easy to use them for hard rock."

The formation wants to go a new way and hit more modern sounds than you are used to from a church. "We want to build a bridge between classical church music and newer, more modern music," explained Pastor Gerhard Schnitzspahn when welcoming the mostly mature audience. The visitors listened devoutly to the sounds and reminisced about the seventies.

On the screen at the altar

Since the musicians had set up their instruments on the organ gallery and were therefore not visible to the visitors, they had come up with something. The concert was recorded via a live video stream with six different cameras and immediately shown on the screen at the altar. To commemorate the hard rock era, all sorts of symbols and artifacts from the era were projected alongside, which was highly recognizable for many visitors.

The visitors praised the idea of a live rock concert with organ in the Johanneskirche. "I really enjoyed the evening. The rock music is great. Listening is a lot of fun,” said Isolde Fuchs from Darmstadt, who had been listening to the various music offerings at the organ festival since 8 p.m.

The musicians around Pastor Gerhard Schnitzspahn played for around an hour and repeatedly lured passers-by into the church with the rocking sounds that can be heard on the street, before the organ festival came to an end at 11 p.m.

Kraftvolle Bässe im Gotteshaus
Rockband, Posaunenchor und Kirchenorgel: Door-Projekt macht aus Oldies atemberaubendes Hörerlebnis
Werra Rundschau,  9.10.2017 (Lorenz Schöggl)

Wanfried. On Friday evening  the musicians from Deep Organ On Rock (Door) rocked the almost full church in Wanfried and impressed with a two-hour musical journey through time.

Powerful basses, an overwhelming sound and classics that invited you to sing and cheer along as if they were at the peak of their time. From the place with the best acoustics, the organ pedestal, legendary rock songs like "Light my fire" and "Speed King" got under the skin from all sides.

Saxophone, brass band music, e-guitar and organ: the fusion of church organ with rock band and trombone choir made the listener eagerly await which instrument will open up a classic and evoke old memories.

The music by no means seemed like it was from the last millennium, but offered a completely new listening experience through the skillful mix of instruments, which made fans of all musical genres excited. That's why not only listeners, where the classics belonged to youth music, but also young faces were there and enjoyed the style, which seemed more modern than ever.

All older people were invited on a journey through time that evoked memories and presented a variety of other cultural icons in addition to music. A screen was set up directly in front of the altar, which alternately showed a slide show and live recordings of the band standing on the other side of the church in front of the organ. Clothing from the 80s, the first mobile phones, famous personalities such as Bob Dylan, the VW Beetle and film classics such as the Feuerzangenbowle: the slide show missed almost every cult of the 20th century. The organizer of the concert was the Förderverein Stadtkirche Wanfried. "It is an enormous effort to keep a church, but events like this are worth it," emphasizes Stephan von Eschwege, Treasurer of the association, thanks all listeners for coming and emphasizes that the association welcomes any support.

Pastor rocks the organ in Darmstadt
EKHN CURRENT, 8.3.2016

Drums, electric guitars and a church organ - does that go together? "In any case," says the pastor and guitarist Gerhard Schnitzspahn from Darmstadt. Together with four friends he plays rock music in Darmstadt's Johanniskirche. That goes down well with the churchgoers.

The drummer hits his sticks together and sets the beat, Pastor Schnitzspahn directs the use of saxophone and church organ. Then the rock song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" sounds from the church gallery. The band with the name "D.O.O.R" was particularly fond of the rock hits from the sixties to the eighties. D.O.O.R - that stands for Deep Organ On Rock and describes the mixture of church organ and rock music.

The organ as the king of instruments

The organist Bernhard Brand-Hofmeister does not find the fusion of the instruments unusual. "You can play anything on the organ," he says. At the end of the song he hits the keys, pedals and pulls out all the stops. Brand-Hofmeister wants to revive the organ as an instrument. Because the church organ is often perceived as outdated. There is so much in the organ. "She is the queen of instruments," enthuses the organist from Groß-Gerau.  

Felt at home through rock music in the church

Even Pastor Schnitzspahn has no problem with rock music in the church. Of course there are always people who have a different opinion. Nevertheless, he is convinced that many people like his music. "After our first performance, people said to me that they suddenly felt at home in the church." That is exactly what the pastor wants to do – to reach people who would not otherwise come to church. "That's proclamation, just in other words," says Schnitzspahn, stroking his electric guitar.

From the small music project to the stage

“It all started five years ago with the Night of the Churches. We played there as a small part of the programme," remembers Schnitzspahn. Meanwhile, the D.O.O.Rs  not only in the Darmstadt Johanniskirche. The band regularly gives concerts in Hessian churches. "Young and old come here - from frail people with walkers to bikers, everything is represented at our concerts," says Schnitzspahn happily.

In search of paradiseFERNSEHGOTTESDIENST ZDF broadcasts live from the Johanneskirche / band project D.O.O.R. rocks
Darmstadt Echo, May 2nd, 2017 (Alexandra Welsch)

It could be a piece from the hippie musical Jesus Christ Superstar echoing through the nave. "God gives freedom," sings Mirjam Thöne with a high-pitched, powerful organ to the grooving beat music that the drums, bass, electric guitar and church organ cheerfully send from the gallery. Pastor Gerhard Schnitzspahn at the front courageously strokes the chords into the guitar strings and sings along. A special service was held on Sunday morning in the Johanneskirche. It was not the first time that the pastor of the evangelical parish conveyed the Christian message with the six-piece band project “Deep Organ On Rock” (D.O.O.R.) alongside the young organist Bernhardt Brand-Hofmeister, who rocked as well as preached. But now ZDF was there to broadcast the rock service entitled "Jenseits von Eden" live on television. Spotlights illuminate the church interior This is already announced in front of the church gate, because the Johannesplatz is blocked with broadcasting and technology trucks. The recording also shapes the scenery inside: the church shines even brighter than it already does on this magnificent spring day in the face of numerous spotlights. And the church should be fuller than usual just because of the approximately 30-strong ZDF team. Men and women with headsets and cameras are scurrying about everywhere. But before the service begins, there is a rehearsal including a sound check. "Please remain seated at the beginning, even if you are used to it differently with the opening liturgy," explains Pastor Elke Rudloff, representative for ZDF television services of the Evangelical Church in Germany. "There are technical reasons for this." And when the TV people then rehearse a song with the audience, it says: "Even if you have taken the vow that you will never sing in your life - then we ask you to have a say today." From the first to the last Ton, the music plays a major role in the service, which deals with the longing for paradise. From Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda da Vida" to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, the pieces of music atmospherically underline what the sermons and readings are about. Coiffed profiles serve as fig leaves "Many long for a return to paradise," says Pastor Schnitzspahn in his sermon. And similar to Adam and Eve, who covered themselves with fig leaves in shame after eating the forbidden tree of knowledge, today's CVs or profiles on social networks would be styled to present themselves better. Samuel Koch, an actor at the Staatstheater in Darmstadt, who has been paralyzed since his accident on “Wetten, dass” and is a self-confessed Christian, also talks about this. "The tree of knowledge may be on the internet today," he says. And the fig leaf is self-optimization, with which one wants to become better and more beautiful. "But real salvation lies in someone else's hands," says Koch. "God ensures that we Adams and Eves of today do not get lost," confirms Pastor Schnitzspahn. His cloak of forgiveness and love keeps us warmer than any self-knit attempts. And when the band then intoned the forgiving number "What a Wonderful World", it almost sounds as if Louis Armstrong had risen again - and a number of soulful smiles flitted across the faces of the churchgoers.

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