Having your own Pipedreams?


By: Bridget Kinneary

Nicknamed “The King of Instruments,” The pipe organ is extremely powerful.  When one hears music played by the organ on the radio (i.e. by tuning into Pipedreams Sundays at 8pm), the incredible complexity and sonic variety of the instrument is apparent. Pipedreams is an incredible program; it gives the listener an opportunity not only to listen to a wide variety music played on the organ, but to learn a great deal about the instrument.

We are lucky in Rochester because we live in a community with many historically significant and beautiful organs and a plethora of talented musicians able to play them. Did you know we have access to some of the world’s only Italian and German re-constructed baroque organs? To learn more about the various organs in Rochester and where to find them, I recommend looking at the instrument webpage on the Eastman Organ and Sacred Music Department website.

 The first live organ concert I saw in Rochester  was performed on the Craighead- Saunders Organ at Christ Church. I was a freshman at Eastman at the time, and I had not been exposed to any type of organ performances besides basic church hymns done on a mediocre quality organ at the church I grew up going to in Houston, Texas. Sadly, the names of the specific performers and pieces of music on this first concert in Rochester have escaped my memory. However, the feeling that hearing that music left me with will be a part of me forever, and it instilled in me a great admiration for the instrument. As the organist started the first piece, the church was instantly filled with the billowing sound. As the music grew louder, it began to resonate not only in the space around me, but within my bones. It leaves you with a feeling in your gut similar but far superior to when someone pulls up next to you at a stop light pumping the bass over their car speakers. Add in the timbre changes achieved through changing the stops on the organ, and  the sonic variety tugs your heart in every direction. The faster passages flashed like lightning. It is daunting to look at an organ and realize the physical demands required to play it: multiple rows of keys, fields of stops, and then, yet another row of keys to be controlled by the feet! An organist does not simply play, he/she dances, and in that, exudes a tremendous energy that can be felt and heard by all present at a performance.

 So, here is my advice to you all: tune in to Pipedreams Sundays at 8pm to learn about the organ and hear some great music. Then, take advantage of the opportunity to hear live organ music that our city provides. Hearing the organ as part of a normal church service just does not cut it. Once you hear a proper organ recital or concert, you will understand why it is the King.