Tuesday, March 13, 2012


the organ, that leviathanical instrument, at libby gardner hall

last night i heard an organ concert in libby gardner hall on the university of utah campus put on by the salty cricket composer's collective.

c. had two fantastic pieces on the show, including a beautiful toccata and a haunting conductus.  i was really moved by the conductus, with it's long pedal point and the simple, expressive chant line over top, and the organist, haruhito miyagi, told me afterwards that the phrase agnus dei looped through his mind during the whole movement.

it was weird, but i had the same words in my mind as he played.

then miyagi played his own ultra-tight composition, franciscan flour ("a sonic sketch depicting the organ in the grand liszt ference hall at the debreceni egyetem, conservatory of music in debrecen, hungary"), and at the end of the first movement, he turned off the organ while maintaining the pedals (i think that's what he was doing!)  and as the sound from the huge pipes decayed, it was the sense of dying wind, or far off chimes, and it reminded me of thoreau

i found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them. . . .

miyagi also played a bold and dissonant piece by crystal young-otterstrom, who is a rad impresario/composer/activist. her piece was thick with walls of sound and built towards the louder second set of pieces.

in the last half of the concert, neil thornock, one of c's colleagues, a composer and a virtuosic organist, played a second c. piece, org,  and an earth shaking piece thornock composed on a wallace stevens poem called restless iteration ("inspired by the bizarre, unstable forms of italian baroque toccata"). this piece was full-blast open pipes and thornock was bouncing while he played from the physicality of the work.  i listened with my eyes closed and started seeing ahab on the ocean, so very near to the white whale, about to close in on his prey.  the piece stayed in that climactic place for a long, long time.  in fact, one might say it got there and it never left.

i love the bone shaking bombast of the organ, the way it takes over a space--all the air, all your body, and makes even your teeth vibrate.  you can't really get anything close to this experience in a recording of organ music.  you have to be in the room with this leviathan of an instrument.  and if you haven't heard a really good organ in a really good space, then put that on your list.

it will rearrange the all cells in your body and you'll be a better person from then on out, if you let the vibrations do their work.  amen.

legwear:  black tights

inspiration:  really loud music

looking forward:  iron chef, yoga with eva, being done grading midterms

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