By the time this reaches your mailboxes, we will have gathered for our final meeting of the season in Latrobe on May 23. Thanks again to everyone involved in the programs and concerts throughout this past season!
The Houston AGO convention is almost here. As a reminder from my article last month, I would like to propose that all the Pittsburgh members going to Houston meet at 10:30 PM on opening night, June 19, in the exhibits area for a group photo. Exact location TBA. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know if you will be attending the convention and I will be in touch about where to meet. I have only heard from only one person so far and I know there are many more going!
My April newsletter article talked about the then-upcoming concerts with Cameron Carpenter and the Pittsburgh Symphony on April 15, 17. Thanks to chapter member Gail Henry’s organization and initiative, many members were able to attend an open rehearsal on April 15, and meet Cameron following the rehearsal. Thank you, Gail!
I attended the Sunday, April 17 performance with a completely open mind to what I was going to experience. There is no doubt that Cameron is immensely talented and has an amazing and seemingly unlimited technique. However for me that talent was completely overshadowed by the sound of his custom-built touring organ. It was one of the loudest and most garish sounds I have heard in recent memory. The Pittsburgh Symphony played beautifully as always, but the sounds from the touring organ were never able to compliment or blend with the overall ensemble sound. Occasionally there were some soft sounds that were lovely and convincing, but, for the most part, the tone quality and extreme volume of the touring organ eclipsed the orchestra, the music, his stunning rendition of the Rachmaninoff score, and even Cameron himself. The organ worked much better and I could appreciate it more on its own in Cameron’s blazing encore of Stars and Stripes Forever.
There were many empty seats in Heinz Hall at the Sunday performance, and I understand it was the same on Friday night. Who knows if any of those in attendance have a more favorable view of our instrument and profession from Cameron’s appearance? But I tend to think that most will remember Cameron from the concert. He once said, “I can’t imagine going to a recital on the basis of the music being played. One really goes to hear the performer. The music is the unstated reason. It's going to be there.”
I wish him well on his mission. Regardless of where Cameron’s career takes him, however, I feel it will always be about Cameron. It will not necessarily be for the betterment of the pipe organ, or the work of the church, or the music, or for the American Guild of Organists. I am thankful that we, as a chapter, had a prominent place on the inside front cover of the program booklet! The work we do for the organ and our profession as the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Artists Series of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Organ Academy is important and something to be celebrated, nurtured, and expanded.
As we look towards summer and the new program year that awaits us in September, I invite you to ask yourself “What can I do for the betterment of the organ and our profession in the coming year?” I hope your answer involves your continued and increased commitment to our chapter!
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