Escaping the Crowd – Interior of the Nieuwe or St. Annakerk in Haarlem, seen from west to east by Pieter Jansz Saenredam

Interior of the Nieuwe or St. Annakerk in Haarlem, seen from west to east by Pieter Jansz Saenredam (via Frans Hals Museum)

High ceilings overhang the immensity of the space, dominating the few dwellers passing by the church, making their way into the citadel, under the arches. On this bright sunny Sunday morning, families boast their richest attires, holding one another closely by the arm, proudly strolling under vast emblematic arches.

Coats of arms ornate the ceiling, projecting austerity and contrasting with the azure sky in the background. Steps reverberate on the marble, masking  the children’s attempts of emitting a sound, searching for attention, just being young and spontaneous.

Silence is praised under the arches, it is the refuge of the tormented, few lost souls striving to escape the crowd. Outside, musicians and singers tune their instruments and voices to create harmony. Pinching chords, tapping on wood, prolonging the shape of an o, to let the sound skim in between lips, reaching the ears of a passer-by, capturing his attention, and hopefully touching his sensibility.

Inside the church, sound is dispelled brutally by the thick columns, the heavy coat of concrete and the impenetrable glass. It is safe to wander under the arches. Protected, the dwellers are hesitant to leave their bubbles.

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