BPO to showcase 21st century marvel at Kleinhans

Mar 9, 2017

It takes two trucks to transport the International Touring Organ which will grace the stage of Kleinhans Music Hall when the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta welcome organist Cameron Carpenter to perform some rather loud music Friday morning and Saturday night. The all-digital organ's sounds were "sampled" from some of Carpenter's favorite organs.

Cameron Carpenter brings his International Touring Organ to Kleinhans for two concerts, March 10 and 11.

The "International Touring Organ" (ITO) redefines the digital organ as a serious instrument for the touring artist. Why is that important? While the uniqueness of each pipe organ in the world is part of its charm, this makes it impossible to perform the same music in different venues, as any violinist can do having been able to not only practice but also to tour with one personal instrument. And although every concert pianist will tell you that there are big variations in pianos from hall to hall, with the aid of a good tuner who can make minor adjustments, those variations can be overcome to a great extent. But organs? Not so much. And, the audience has to travel to the organ instead of the organ and organist traveling to where the audience is. For example, Kleinhans Music Hall, where dynamic young organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter will join the BPO for a concert like no other, featuring not only Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony” but Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra.

Marshall & Ogletree has overcome this problem with the all-digital ITO. They started with "sampling" (recording) sounds from many traditional pipe organs, including many of Cameron Carpenter’s favorite instruments – from church cathedrals to theater organs (and one of his favorite Wurlitzers is right here in Buffalo at Shea's Performing Art Center). Then these various "sampled" sounds were installed in an organ designed to be internationally mobile – an idea impractical or impossible by other means.

An ITO console (fingerboards, pedals, and "stops") and extensive touring sound system insure the organ’s consistency from venue to venue, both as the "home instrument" of the artist it was built for and what Marshall & Ogletree feel will be an "ultimate acoustical experience for the listener."

The entire organ is said to assemble in less than three hours from only six modular parts and travels in a single large truck. Meanwhile, identical European and American sound systems are housed in Berlin, Germany and Needham, Massachusetts, ready to travel anywhere on either continent, in a separate truck.

There are two opportunities, Friday March 10 at 10:30 a.m. (come early for complimentary coffee and donuts) and Saturday, March 11 at 8:00 p.m. The program, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, includes DUKAS' Fanfare to La Péri, POULENC's Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani; JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH's Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 546; and SAINT-SAËNS' Symphony No. 3, “Organ.” For tickets and information, call the BPO Box Office at 716-885-5000 or visit www.bpo.org.