by Brendan Beery
I love to behold genius. It doesn’t make me think that there is a god, but sometimes it makes me think the universe speaks.
I have a dear friend who, though much younger than I am, is already among the world’s finest evolutionary biologists. I could listen to him talk – and teach—for hours (although I’m not above interrupting incessantly with questions). It’s like being led to a place that is a notch ahead of consciousness: a realm where chaos is sublime.
What else can bring one there? Music, of course.
Many people find the pipe organ to be a strange instrument; it’s a thing we hear mostly at funerals (with all their attendant sadness) and weddings (with all their attendant tediousness).
To me, though, it is unparalleled as an instrument. If one wants to feel music in his bones – to literally have it shaking his kidneys – then there is nothing better.
Some time ago, I searched to the ends of the internet trying to find a bookmarkable rendition of John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever (a favorite of mine) on a full pipe organ. Just when I was resigned to accepting that Diane Bish was the best out there (cue vomit sound here), I clicked on one last link.
Within 10 seconds of that click, I was slack-jawed. I’d happened upon an artist named Cameron Carpenter. Today, I have read, watched, and listened to just about everything there is on the internet about Carpenter. Of all the things I read, heard, or saw of or about Cameron Carpenter, one stood out. A professional organist, and one steeped in decades of experience, said something like this (I paraphrase): “When I see and hear Cameron Carpenter play, I am always left thinking, but a pipe organ can’t do that. What he is doing just can’t be done.”
As it happens, Cameron Carpenter is a young gay man. He found his passion the first time his parents sat him at a keyboard, and he dove into it during his pubescence to avoid any immersion in less celebrated things.
I once shared his work on Facebook, but I thought it not enough. Here is a musician who doesn’t just play an instrument; he dances on it. You’ll see what I mean. Be sure to listen on some badass speakers: the less this music resonates, the worse it sounds.