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Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:03 am
by patrickmm
Boy wonder Cameron Carpenter is scheduled to perform on the North Tonawanda NY Riviera Theater Wurlitzer on Oct. 4, 2009 at 2PM. The show is guaranteed to be an electrifying high energy thriller from what I know about him. I have heard that he is comfortable playing anything with a keyboard, be it classical or theater or Hammond jazz. Hope that old organ survives his machine gun fireworks of playing style. Get the fire extinguishers ready.

Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:30 am
by Jim Henry
Anyone who can get to this show should do it! Cameron played on the Plummer Auditorium Wurlitzer in Fullerton in April. He was able to get sounds out of that organ that had never been heard before. He brings a fresh vision to the instrument along with pyrotechnic virtuosity.

Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:38 pm
by Wurlitzer28
Tickets in hand and ready to go!

I used to Emcee the concerts for a while when the theater organ society purchased the Riviera. The organ was not in the best of shape but wonders have been done to get the organ working and sounding very good. The theater has also been under constant repairs and is looking much better.

Re: Cameron Carpenter in the News

Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 1:35 pm
by johnh
Here's a current news item on Cameron:

Article in 'The Age'


Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:02 pm
by patrickmm
Just got back home from the concert and let me tell you, it was the most entertaining, interesting, and eye opening performance I have ever been to. Although half of the show was on a digital classical organ, the Wurlitzer pieces were like nothing I have ever heard before. The combinations he put together, some being changed repeatedly on every single beat, were not only amazing to listen to, but also to watch as thumbs and fingers flew on and off pistons and tabs in a blur. The improvised Gershwin medley was just a real treat for the ears and mind as I listened carefully for small pieces of my favorites to suddenly appear out of the blend where it was hard to tell where one song ended and the next began. I really couldn't tell you how many songs were in that medley. It was like Name That Tune in four notes at times. One thing that he said, that I believe is true, is that the organ has to keep reinventing itself just as every other instrument has over the centuries or it will suffer a slow agonizing death. I also believe that the Miditzer and other virtual organs can be instrumental, no pun intended, in that quest. The more people that are able to have access to an organ at a reasonable cost, even if its virtual, gets more fingers moving and more ideas flowing. I love the old songs and playing styles but if I was still performing, it would be great to be able to play at a few colleges or high schools and not have all the young people bored to death.

Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:36 am
by Wurlitzer28
We must have attended a completely different concert.

Based upon some very good videos on YouTube I was looking forward to this concert and invited some friends along, some who knew and played both classical and Theater organ style and some that had not been exposed to the Mighty Wurlitzer.

BAD move, the MidiTzer VPO sounds much better than the digital one at the Riviera although maybe if Cameron had played at something less than 180db there might have been less distortion.

The people that accompanied me, who were not familiar with the organ, were not inspired to attend future concerts.

He missed many stop changes on both organs but, I do agree with him that because each organ tends to be different, this can be problematic.

For the most part, the Wurlitzer was played without trems and the Tibias on this organ are very nice but sound so much better when the trems are on.

As for his incessant preaching about "it is a Cinema organ not a theater organ" and it has to constantly reinvent itself, well the Riviera has had monthly concerts for well over 30 years and this organ will be around long after Cameron is done preaching to the audience. At one point it took every ounce of civility not to stand up during one of his sermons and shout, "SHUT UP AND PLAY".

Sheer speed does not an entertainer make. When keys are being played with no stops on or such a mismatch in registration so as to render the cacophony of high speed notes to be less than a whisper which is overwhelmed by some sort of counter melody (I am only guessing because it was so muddy) the intended result is completely missing.

Cameron seemed to be a genuinely nice person with some astronomical talent however when playing for a paying audience and not some esoteric group of "enlightened" individuals he might want to alter his play list.

His final piece, "Stars and Stripes Forever" was good but with many missing notes especially in the pedals. Those missing notes could be a problem with the depth of touch in the pedals so I would give Cameron a pass on those.

I'll admit, I love upbeat "THEATER ORGAN STYLE"' and most but not all classical organ literature but I have no idea what Cameron was attempting.

Our good friends from the UK, with their usual upbeat, Blackpool approach to the Theater Organ have always been well received by the Riviera crowd. Many USA organists have also endeared themselves to the faithful at the "Riv" and that is why this organ continues to be played at least every month for over 30 years.

Cameron has a lot of flash and showmanship which the 2 (at least) organ worlds desparately need but first and foremost, if he truly wishes to promote the Pipe and VP organs he should learn what people like and remember that he is an entertainer in this type of venue.

Cameron either was not aware of his audience or he does not care and will play what he wants. That approach is OK for a few pieces so as to "enlighten us all" but this was the first concert I have attended that I was glad it was over and embarrassed that I had suggested others attend. This was $20 and <2 hours out of my life that I will never get back.

Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:50 pm
by patrickmm
Oh my! That was harsh W28. Sorry you didn't enjoy it. It was easy to see that many at this show liked it very much, but it's OK that you didn't. The good thing is that here we have an instrument that has the ability to appeal to a wider demographic, which it definitely needs. I would not go to see a heavy metal band just because one of the members played a make of guitar that I enjoy hearing played in another genre either. Most musical instruments can play a wide variety of music styles but to say that the theater/cinema organ was only designed to be played one certain way and that anything else is blasphemy would probably make an organ say "Don't underestimate me. I most surely can do more than just that. Although I do just that extremely well, I must say." Perhaps Carpenter's style wasn't your cup of tea but the organ has been on life support for quite some time now and was very close to flat lining a while back, so it could use any magic pills or injections that anyone might offer. Yes, some of it could only be snake oil. It's great that you like just what you like about the way it should be played, and the organ needs anyone that supports it, but think about this....Laurens Hammond hated the idea that jazz was being played on his invention. That's not what he designed it for. Although if it weren't for jazz and blues and rock, the Hammond and especially the B3 and clones like it would be extinct today. We should be happy if some cinema/theater organs are still playing those tunes from the 1900's fifty or 100 years from now but if some are playing space music from another galaxy, at least they are still playing. I probably won't like the new music but it won't be for me. I'll be gone. Thanks for any opposite opinions. It would be so boring if we all liked the same things. Most of this post probably belongs in the Green Room but it evolved with the thread. Can you forgive me? ;) PS, I thought the Stars and Stripes Forever was the worst part of the show. Ha!

Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:45 pm
by Wurlitzer28
Patrickmm! I am very glad you enjoyed the program. Yes, opinions will always vary and certainly preference for various types of music will run the spectrum! Again, I state Cameron is very talented and I could not ever hope to play at his level.

I would like to hear him on the organ he is designing.

Missed notes are missed notes. That is not an opinion.
Registration incorrect such that numerous time notes were played yet no voices spoke are mistakes not opinions.
An electronic organ pushed hard into distortion is not subject to opinion.

My wife and I were major $$$ contributors to the Niagara Frontier Theater Organ Society's purchase of theater a few years back so we have a vested interest in what goes on at the theater. The current ownership have done wonders for both the organ and the theater.

Re: Cameron Carpenter at the Riviera Wurlitzer

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:56 pm
by Musicman72
I'm with you Craig. I was at that particular concert, and had the same opinion. Too loud. I'm 76 yrs old, and hard of hearing but some of it just hurt my ears. As for the program, surely he must have known that he was playing for a "Cinema Organ" crowd, (as he named Theater organs ) and therefore could have played more recognizable classical pieces. Why he used used the Wurlitzer at all is beyond me, as he played that in the same fashion as the digital classical organ. No trems as I heard even for the Gershwin melody.

Sorry to be so negative about this, but that is my opinion.

Next month, Jelani Eddington, I know I will be there and enjoy his renditions on The Mighty Wurlitzer.

That's my two pennyworth, for what it's worth.