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All-digital wizardry this weekend on stage at Kleinhans Music Hall

The dynamic young organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter will join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta for a concert like no other, with a marvel of 21st century technology.

The “International Touring Organ” (ITO) redefines the digital organ as a serious instrument for the touring artist. Why is that important? While the uniqueness of each pipe organ in the world is part of its charm, this makes it impossible to perform the same music in different venues, as any violinist can do having been able to not only practice but also to tour with one personal instrument. And although every concert pianist will tell you that there are big variations in pianos from hall to hall, with the aid of a good tuner who can make minor adjustments, those variations can be overcome to a great extent. But organs? Not so much. And, the audience has to travel to the organ instead of the organ and organist traveling to where the audience is. For example, Kleinhans Music Hall, where Cameron Carpenter will join the BPO for a concert featuring not only Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony” but Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra.

The New England organ designing company of Marshall & Ogletree, founded and run by two musicians, has overcome the touring problem with the all-digital ITO. They started with “sampling” (recording) sounds from many traditional pipe organs, including many of Cameron Carpenter’s favorite instruments – from church cathedrals to theater organs (and one of his favorite Wurlitzers is right here in Buffalo at Shea’s Performing Art Center as he explained in conversation). Then these various “sampled” sounds are installed in an organ designed to be internationally mobile – an idea impractical or impossible by other means.

An ITO console (fingerboards, pedals, and “stops”) and extensive touring sound system insure the organ’s consistency from venue to venue, both as the “home instrument” of the artist it was built for and what Marshall & Ogletree feel will be an “ultimate acoustical experience for the listener.”

The entire organ is said to assemble in less than three hours from only six modular parts and travels in a single large truck.

The entire organ is said to assemble in less than three hours from only six modular parts and travels in a single large truck. Meanwhile, identical European and American sound systems are housed in Berlin, Germany and Needham, Massachusetts, ready to travel anywhere on either continent, in a separate truck.

There are two opportunities to hear this organ, Friday March 10 at 10:30 a.m. (come early for complimentary coffee and donuts) and Saturday, March 11 at 8:00 p.m. The program, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, includes DUKAS’ Fanfare to La Péri; POULENC’s Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani; JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 546; and SAINT-SAËNS’ Symphony No. 3, “Organ.” For tickets and information, call the BPO Box Office at 716-885-5000 or visit www.bpo.org.

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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