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November 2009

It Ain't All Turkeys


Ah, Thanksgiving: that uniquely American celebration of food, football, and general fatuousness. And, what better way to start the holiday than with the 83rd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, right here in NYC. Sure, it's mostly crass commercialism designed to get you to buy more Hamburger Helper or Pillsbury, but amidst all the high school marching bands and Broadway musicals, there were some genuine musical jewels. I mean: The Roots? Ziggy Marley? The Pizzarelli Quartet??? And, hey, any parade with Cyndi Lauper in it is cool in my book. 

Maybe next year I'll even get off my couch and check it out in person...(More pics below.)

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Playing For Keeps


Are there any miracles left in the modern world? Is the concept of musical genius - represented by flawless technique and effortless execution - nothing but a myth? Can our digitally-inured society even still recognize raw talent in its pure state?

To all those who question the full capacity of human ability, I have but two words: Cameron Carpenter. Cameron, 28, is an organist whose facility and flamboyance on the King of Instruments defies description. He blew me away when I saw him last October at Trinity, and continues to blaze his way through organ lofts everywhere from here to Moscow. When I heard he was performing this past Saturday on the Aeolian-Skinner organ at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, I made a point of being there, despite the surrounding horror known as Times Square

The church was packed when I arrived halfway through the concert on Saturday (I was held up by Alex Waterman's performance that same afternoon), and filled with microphones, all recording the event for Telarc. He played five Bach preludes and fugues, followed by his own Serenade on the name B-A-C-H, followed still by three encores. All you could do was sit and shake your head at the majesty of it all.  

Cameron has said more than once that he wants to bring this music to a wider audience through his showmanship - though, to be honest, his glam rock look is more Diane Bish than David Bowie. No matter: he'll be turning them away by droves before long with his talent alone. (More pics below and here.)

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