February 16, 2017: Cameron Carpenter, Organ Rock star

I always get the same reaction when I tell someone, “I’m going to see a concert tonight”. Whether it’s a 7 year old or my co-worker.

“Actually it’s not that type of concert, no it’s not Katy Perry. I’m going to the NAC- you know, the national arts centre? To see the orchestra?”

Normally this is followed either by silence or something along the lines of “Oh… that’s different.”

It never occurred to me that I would have to convince people my own age that classical music isn’t necessarily what you think. Let me explain…

Last Thursday, I went to the Imagined Italy concert series at the NAC with the headline attraction being organ extraordinaire Cameron Carpenter. This wasn’t my first time seeing Cameron, so I knew what to expect and I was eager to get my hands on live rush tickets ($15 last minute tickets for youth 29 and under- what a steal!). Needless to say it was amazing, breathtaking, fun and exhilarating! If you haven’t seen Cameron play before, I highly suggest checking out his youtube page and make sure to stare at his feet! I brought my mom with me, who is not a classical music fan and she only fell asleep for about 20% of the entire show- she was fully conscious during Cameron’s performance. Definitely a success in my books!

When I explained to my coworkers that I was going to see a ‘cool organ player’ they immediately were disgusted by the words cool and organ player. What they didn’t realize was that this ‘cool organ player’ was 1) young 2) has a half shaved head and dresses like a rockstar and 3) is incredibly talented and entertaining.

I realized I was talking to a group of people who had never been to a classical music concert before. Their idea of a classical music concert was a room full of old people (true), and boring classical music that can seem never ending (open to interpretation). So I decided to approach this from another angle with a parallel example:

Back when I was a university student, my summer traditions usually included going to the Ottawa Bluesfest. I had a student pass and The Tragically Hip were playing one of the nights so I decided to tag along with a few friends. I had heard of the band, but honestly, had never heard any of their songs. Needless to say, and in retrospect what a terrible mistake, I was so bored. I remember standing in the field listening to Wheat Kings, and so many others while Gord Downie literally climbed the scaffolding, and was running across the stage, and I was so incredibly bored hoping the concert would end soon.

I learned after that, that a concert isn’t very fun or entertaining if you don’t know the music being played. Some food, or music for thought!

Thanks for reading and until the next classical adventure!

-V