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Colin Harvey

Cameron Carpenter

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I have been interested to read the various postings about Cameron Carpenter. I had not even heard his name till earlier this year and my initial reaction was to dismiss him and his playing as an American gimmick.

 

A few weeks ago, however, I met him and heard him play in person. I had no hesitation in booking him to play at my church next year. I can confirm too, that on a personal level, I found him to be an utterly charming and unassuming man.

 

He certainly has the most amazing technique that I have seen in fifty years; but more important than this, his musicianship is equal to any of his colleagues. His feeling for colour is second to none and he seems to have almost a mission to "bring the organ to the people". Of course his style of playing does not appeal to the purists, but I think the Organ World needs someone like him at the moment. Too often organists are content to stay in their ivory towers, playing boring programmes to tiny audiences. One thing about Mr Carpenter, he is not boring!

 

For me, watching and hearing him play in person was a completely different experience from merely tuning in to YOUtube.

 

Those who seem to have written him off as just another US show-off, should come along to the Albert Hall on October 21st and hear him in person, before making their final judgement. (Tickets are 25% off, if purchased before Friday...) It takes a lot to persuade me to go to London these days, but I would not miss his UK début-concert for anything.

 

Geoffrey Morgan

Thank you for posting your opinion. From someone as eminent as yourself, it is pleasing to read such a positive recommendation. It just goes to show that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover!

JC

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"Does anybody know exactly what this means?"

 

For those undecided about CC, I recommend listening to Pipedreams (pipedreams.org) this week as the show is dedicated to him and the evolutionary BWV 565 is featured. I find it difficult to take him seriously in the sense of his being a serious musician. As a performer in the sense of Liberace, Virgil Fox, or even David Blaine, he is of course very impressive. The organ, and indeed the music, is more or less a sideshow to the man. Can you imagine a mainstream non-organist musician (Joshua Bell? Ian Bostridge?) carrying on like that?

 

Having said that I was positively surprised at the interview which he gave for pipedreams, he's very articulate and believes he's on a mission. I think personally that he's missed the point - for me the organ's emancipation will be the result of it being 'sold' as well as, let's say the Concertgebouw Orkest in Amsterdam, rather than its Disney-fication. The organ has disappeared from the public conscience, more than other forms of mainstream classical music, surely, because organ performances are, too often, of a poor quality, and because churches are never the best at PR.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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I've just looked up the programme for the "Organ Show":

 

Chopin, arr. C. Carpenter - 'Revolutionary' Etude (Op. 10, No. 4 in C Minor)

 

Demessieux - Octaves

 

Joe Hisaishi - The promise of the world / The merry-go-round of life from Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle

 

Liszt - Mephisto Waltz No. 1

 

John Williams - From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I. Harry’s Wondrous World

II. Invisibility Cloak

III. Hedwig’s Theme

 

J. S. Bach, arr. & ed. C. Carpenter - Evolutionary' Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

 

Ellington - Solitude (after Sheep May Safely Graze), coupled with Grainger and J. S. Bach

 

Cameron Carpenter - Love Song No. 1

 

Cameron Carpenter - from New York City Sessions (2005)

technoëtude+Nightclub Scene

 

Cameron Carpenter - Improvised Sonata based on great British television themes

I. on ITV's Agatha Christie’s Poirot (theme by Christopher Gunning)

II. on Cosgrove Hall's Wind in the Willows (theme by Keith Hopwood)

III. on ITV's Inspector Morse (theme by Barrington Pheloung) and BBC1's EastEnders (theme by David Lowe)

 

Not sure what to say about all that really....! :blink::huh::o

 

Does anyone know if there is likely to be a screen to watch this on? I'm trying to entice non-playing organ fans.

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I've just looked up the programme for the "Organ Show":

 

...... and BBC1's EastEnders (theme by David Lowe)

This, surely, is incorrect. The EastEnders theme tune was composed by Simon May

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I've just looked up the programme for the "Organ Show":

 

Cameron Carpenter - Improvised Sonata based on great British television themes

... and BBC1's EastEnders (theme by David Lowe)

 

Great?????

 

Peter

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Great?????

 

Peter

 

This could be applied to the entire programme.

 

I can think of no other solo instrument in which it is seen as a positive aspect to play this type of programme in order (presumably) to 'appeal' to the masses.

 

If you like this sort of thing and wish to go, then I hope that you have a great evening.

 

Personally, I think I shall stay at home and listen to some 'real' organ music - wild horses would not drag me to this sort of thing.

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This could be applied to the entire programme.

 

I can think of no other solo instrument in which it is seen as a positive aspect to play this type of programme in order (presumably) to 'appeal' to the masses.

 

If you like this sort of thing and wish to go, then I hope that you have a great evening.

 

Personally, I think I shall stay at home and listen to some 'real' organ music - wild horses would not drag me to this sort of thing.

 

I rather agree!!

 

AJJ

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Whilst the programme - at least on paper - would be unlikely to attract me, if it attracts people who would normally not attend an organ recital (as I think Guilmant's was implying about the friends he mentioned earlier), then I'm rather in favour of it. I would probably even think about taking some non-organist friends myself were it in my part of the world!

 

I have a feeling that most people who attend classical music concerts would not attend an "organ recital" as they perceive organ recitals to be recitals of obscure music played on dusty old organs by dusty old organists. I know, because I've spoken with several people who would seem to rather an evening watching paint dry than hearing a concert on the organ. We need to reach out and meet these people half-way.

 

As a case in point, I give monthly organ recitals at one of my churches. The concerts always consist of tuneful music and, whilst they have a regular and loyal following, never exactly pack out the church alas. However, last month's "Organist's Last Night of the Proms" where people were encouraged to bring hooters, whistles, Union flags, &c, to sing "Rule Britannia", Jerusalem, "Land of Hope & Glory" and to clap along to the "Gigue" fugue, and generally join in with "The Entertainer", "Liberty Bell" and other pieces, DID pack out the church. I still get stopped in the town by people who were in the audience - and who I'd not seen before - praising the concert and asking for details about the next organ concert.

 

Get people onside by whatever means are necessary, and then we stand a chance of keeping them interested in organ music. If this needs the occasional "gimmick", then so be it. As a case in point, I'm considering at next month's recital - the last in the year, and a request recital (you can guess many of the pieces already requested) - rising to a challenge I've been given of playing THE Widor blindfolded. I know many of my colleagues on this discussion board will probably scoff at this but, if it gets us good publicity in the local press, and gets another church full of people for an organ concert, then that's a good thing in my book.

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I agree with Holz Gedeckt. It's all about "bums on seats" and if you want to increase audiences you have to make them interested in the first instance. I'm sure many contributors here will have watched the Priory Liverpool DVD and on that Ian Tracey makes the point about playing transcriptions so that the casual man in the audience recognises what's going on.

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Come on guys, cut us a bit of slack here. I agree with the two postings above. There is a possibility that if friends enjoy this, then they might be tempted to go to what you might describe as a 'more serious' recital (maybe even one of my own!). Also, let's not jump on the bandwagon of criticism about this chap till we've seen him live ourselves. I'm fully expecting to enjoy it all if I make, but I'm sure there might be moments when the buttocks are clenched and there is a sharp intake of breath.

 

The organ world needs more bums on seats, and if this is a way of doing it, lets get behind it.

 

Rant over!

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Come on guys, cut us a bit of slack here. I agree with the two postings above. There is a possibility that if friends enjoy this, then they might be tempted to go to what you might describe as a 'more serious' recital (maybe even one of my own!). Also, let's not jump on the bandwagon of criticism about this chap till we've seen him live ourselves. I'm fully expecting to enjoy it all if I make, but I'm sure there might be moments when the buttocks are clenched and there is a sharp intake of breath.

 

The organ world needs more bums on seats, and if this is a way of doing it, lets get behind it.

 

Rant over!

 

Well, I have seen him - at least on DVD. In response to a post made some weeks ago, I did not find his technique to be superior to that of (for example) David Briggs - whom I have also observed playing on many occasions, including whilst turning his pages for the re-opening recital at Gloucester Cathedral in 2000. The cathedral was full for this event, too. There were no 'gimmicks' of any kind - it was a straight organ recital. The audience also loved it and in fact clamoured for more at the end. DJB's playing was, quite simply, stunning - but there were no wrong notes whatsoever - no smudges, just perfect and incredibly musical playing - and with impeccable taste.

 

In response to Holz Gedeckt's post above - this programme appears to be way past the 'occasional gimmick'. Personally, I am sceptical about the perceived number of people who, if they did try this out and happen to enjoy it, would subsequently attend a somewhat more serious organ recital.

 

As I wrote before, I am not aware of any major orchestra the management of which feels the need to indulge in such a programme in a bid to attract as many people as possible.

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Personally, I am sceptical about the perceived number of people who, if they did try this out and happen to enjoy it, would subsequently attend a somewhat more serious organ recital.

Me too. See below.

 

As I wrote before, I am not aware of any major orchestra the management of which feels the need to indulge in such a programme in a bid to attract as many people as possible.

Perhaps that's the wrong comparison. There are plenty of people out there who like big band music. Maybe CC is the organ equivalent. At any rate he seems to be addressing tastes somewhere in between high classical and pop/dance. It's not my scene, but I don't see anything wrong at all with that sort of positioning. He's just addressing a different market.

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Perhaps that's the wrong comparison. There are plenty of people out there who like big band music. Maybe CC is the organ equivalent. At any rate he seems to be addressing tastes somewhere in between high classical and pop/dance. It's not my scene, but I don't see anything wrong with it at all. He's just addressing a different market.

 

I see what you mean - but I was working on the assumption that the earlier post (by Holz Gedeckt) intended to imply that this was a good method of 'catching' people - in the sense of trying to convert them to more serious organ music. Perhaps I read too much into this, but at any rate, that was what I took his post to suggest; in which case, I am not sure that my comparison is so wide of the mark. However, I could be wrong (again).

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I see what you mean - but I was working on the assumption that the earlier post (by Holz Gedeckt) intended to imply that this was a good method of 'catching' people - in the sense of trying to convert them to more serious organ music. Perhaps I read too much into this, but at any rate, that was what I took his post to suggest; in which case, I am not sure that my comparison is so wide of the mark. However, I could be wrong (again).

 

 

There are surely two quite distinct reasons why you might want "bums on seats" which may, but certainly do not have to, have the same objective in view:

 

1. You may want access to the wallets and pocket books which accompany the aforesaid posteriors

 

2. You wish to introduce more people to the concept of "serious" organ music.

 

As far as (1) is concerned those who have the responsibility for funding the running expenses of a substantial pipe organ will be only too aware of the costs involved . If the choice is attract more funds or order a skip then the decision to widen the pool of potential providers of funds by catering to their tastes is a perfectly rational one. Some might object that it offends their principles in which case they are free to refuse to adopt this approach. However, they should not subsequently complain if adverse consequences ensue as a result, eg having to order that skip. Provided one remains within the bounds of the law one is entitled to adopt whatever principles one wishes but it is necessary to remember that, like lunch, there is a cost (to someone) attached.

 

As to (2) I think the concept of "serious" organ music might not be entirely free of controversy. It cannot, presumably, mean simply music written for performance on the organ for if that were the case then the entire oeuvre of Caleb Simper would qualify. Nor can it just mean the organ music a particular individual happens to find congenial : personally I would much rather listen to Lefebure - Wely than Messiaen but I do not expect many here to share that preference. But if that much is obvious then the status to be accorded to the likes of Guilmant, Boellmann, and Rheinberger (dismissed with contempt in one of the first books on the organ that I ever bought) and the issue of transcriptions (but what about the Bach-Vivaldi concertos, perhaps BWV 565 itself even, and the Mendelssohn Wedding March ??) contain more than enough issues to sustain discussion for years to come.

 

I bought my first organ LP (Simon Preston - "Crown Imperial) before some on this board were even born and as a consequence became hooked. I now have a collection which embraces all periods of the repertoire from Tallis and Tye to Hakim but I started with lighter fare. I doubt I am unique in having followed that particular route. Shortly after I got that LP I was given another by a colleague of my father's who was otherwise going to throw it in the dustbin. The man in question was certainly no philistine and had joined a record club to broaden his appreciation of classical music but as far as that organ LP was concerned he had "made himself" (his words I recall) listen to it once and had no intention of suffering such an experience again. The offending music ? Flor Peeters playing J.S. Bach including BWV565 and the Preludes and Fugues in A minor (BWV543) and B minor (BWV544).

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I'm going to have to sit squarely on the fence here, because I can see the arguments on both sides, and generally agree with them both. I'm fond of something entertaining and different, from time to time, but I'm probably also a bit too traditional, because I like real organ music played properly. I think the idea of a last night of the proms is a great one, but probably more rooted in the town hall tradition, particularly transcriptions, after all that is why many town hall organs were installed. I think the comparison of orchestras needing to attract people in by making changes to their programme is actually quite entertaining, but after all that is what the organ was installed to do, in place of the orchestra where a town couldn't afford to hire an orchestra, just a poorly paid organist (a whole new topic!).

 

I will have to continue to sit on th fence, I'm interested to hear Cameron Carpenter, but not entirely sure I want a whole evening of it!

 

Jonathan :blink:

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I have to be in London on Saturday and Monday so don't want another journey up there on Tuesday in order to hear CC although I should have liked to have gone in order to form an opinion of him from a "live show". I have previously related on this board how at the tender age of 14 (in 1962) it was listening to an LP of a certain Mr V Fox at the Riverside Church in NY that finally persuaded me to have organ lessons even though I now find that recording quite dreadful in nearly every respect.

 

My congregation gets very excited if I play that Sortie in Eflat by you-know-who yet, in the past few weeks, they have got equally excited by the Karg Elert Nun Danket and the JSB Dorian Toccata. They would have applauded heartily if I hadn't previously banned them from doing so!

 

Malcolm Kemp

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A friend of mine who went has sent me some photos and is ringing me this evening to give a report. If there's anything worth reporting I'll post it later. Seems he was quite happy to talk to the audience afterwards and autograph programmes &c., Apparently the audience was able to buy a new DVD which is not yet generally available in the UK.

 

The photos show him signing autographs whilst dresed like one of the higher orders of angels &c., (I've never seen an angel so this is guesswork on my part.)

 

Malcolm

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Just for the record, he's been booked to appear at Victoria Hall, Hanley next September, so I presume he'll be doing a tour at that time.

 

...and Lichfield Cathedral the night before. (That's 11th and 12th September 2009)

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...and Lichfield Cathedral the night before. (That's 11th and 12th September 2009)

Given that CC is a virtuoso performer as well as a virtuoso player (if you see what I mean), will he be playing Phoenix rather than he Hill?

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Given that CC is a virtuoso performer as well as a virtuoso player (if you see what I mean), will he be playing Phoenix rather than he Hill?

Good point, although they do have two large cameras installed in the organ loft...

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A friend of mine who went has sent me some photos and is ringing me this evening to give a report. If there's anything worth reporting I'll post it later. Seems he was quite happy to talk to the audience afterwards and autograph programmes &c., Apparently the audience was able to buy a new DVD which is not yet generally available in the UK.

 

The photos show him signing autographs whilst dresed like one of the higher orders of angels &c., (I've never seen an angel so this is guesswork on my part.)

 

Malcolm

 

I wonder how many people were at the Organ Show - last night at John Scott's excellent recital there were I would estimate only about 300-400 - hardly enough to cover the expenses involved I should think.

 

What needs to be done to increase the audience? The Latry recital a little while ago had quite a good attendance. Is it the programme/performer/time of year.... ?

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Today my postman delivered a glossy, four page (folded A3) autographed programme of CC's recital at RAH on Tuesday. The content of this programme rather suggests that possibly the audience he was aiming at was a not entirely a musical one. However, I gather that the playing itself was superb. Also, he's obviously got a very good marketing/publicity team working with him.

 

M

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