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Gert van Hoef ... vs ... Cameron Carpenter

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    Gert van Hoef ... vs ... Cameron Carpenter

    Spending some of my spare time watching youtube videos these days, and I've become quite taken with the playing of Gert van Hoef, up and coming organist in the Netherlands. He seems to have a ton of good material on youtube, and is apparently enjoying a pretty good career on the concert circuit, and as a demonstrator and erstwhile spokesman for one or more of the Dutch organ builders. Gert's playing style is highly disciplined and precise, nearly faultless, and only a little idiomatic -- his exaggerated arm and body movements being only slightly more pronounced than many other fine players. He seems to program mostly the great organ classics with a mix of romantic and even modern music. I've heard a few of his spontaneous improvs, which are quite striking. He appears pretty clean-cut and doesn't draw attention to himself with his wardrobe or other personal items. In the occasional video in which he speaks, he seems quite personable and smart, if shy.

    Of course, Cameron Carpenter is well-known to many of us, having been around for a number of years as a traveling recitalist and something of a revolutionary, deeply connected to Marshall & Ogletree. He is currently traveling with a custom-designed M&O organ with some very unusual features, and is known for his distinctive appearance, clothing, hair, bejeweled shoes, as well as his extraordinarily virtuosic and often controversial playing style. His repertoire includes not only the usual organ fare, but a great number of transcriptions from piano and orchestra music, especially movie and showtune music. He is truly a showman unlike any we have seen in a long time in the organ field. He seems to love to talk and give TV interviews, and some might say he's a bit overdone in the self-promotion department. But he is certainly one of the most technically astounding players I have ever watched.

    Question... What do you all think of these guys? Which one has the best chance of becoming the standard-bearer for performing organists in our lifetimes?
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    #2
    I don't think you can compare the two organists - they really exist in two different worlds. Cameron is a spectacle. I remain in awe of his performance of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvaJAJOi2ug ) and agree that his keyboard (and pedalboard) abilities are amazing. But I have to close my eyes if I load one of his YouTube videos. His long-winded rant about pipe organs was self-serving (IMHO) and that led up to the M&O touring organ project.

    The comparisons with Virgil Fox are many as far as showmanship but despite both of them having massive egos and a flair for console couture (exceeded only by Diane Bish), I find I can tolerate Fox better than Carpenter.

    Gert has come a long way since I first ran into his videos many years ago. He is a solid organist and his improvisation on "Conquest of Paradise" remains one of my favorite performances of his. That carillon stop on the Johannus organ gets me every time I listen to it. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3u-y_2dPCghttps://www.youtube.com/user/mhakanpaa/videoshttp://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/home/front ) where folks post VPO recordings. Many of the regulars on there are incredibly good organists and some of them are composers too.

    Sorry to digress from the main theme of your thread but for people who like good organ music (and not just the old chestnuts) there is a lot out there on the www to expand your horizons.
    Last edited by AllenAnalog; 01-31-2016, 09:15 PM.
    Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand name.

    Main: Allen RMWTHEA.3 with Rocky Mount Electra-Piano, Allen 423-C + Gyro cabinet, Britson Opus OEM38, Saville Series IV Opus 209, Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI
    Lower Level: Hammond 9812H with roll player, Gulbransen Rialto, Roland E-200, Vintage Moog
    Shop: Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with 18 speakers and MIDI, 4 Allen theater organ tone cabinets (including 3 Gyros, but don't call me Gyro Gearloose!).

    Comment


      #3
      Not a digression at all, Larry! Thanks for the tip on the other videos.

      You're right about Gert and Cameron inhabiting different worlds. It's pretty amazing how both can be so obviously talented and technically proficient, yet seem to take such different approaches to the organ.

      Watching and listening to Gert, I've been impressed with the rich and almost orchestral sounds he seems to call forth from even the most straight-laced old pipe organs. At times I've had to wonder if he's come upon some old Dutch church organ that has been MIDI-fied! I enjoy hearing the many different Dutch digitals that he demonstrates as well, and the Hauptwerk consoles. Makes it look like these organs are very good and easy to play.

      It's a great thing that the organ world is able to accommodate two rising stars that are so different -- like Fox and Biggs.

      Thanks again for the other links. I'll follow up on those myself. Glad you mentioned Diane Bish. She has carried the torch for quite a long time now, but her time is probably short as a truly spectacular and prolific performer. I just have to wonder if that torch will pass to a flamboyant showman or to a more traditional artist. Diane seems to have combined both aspects pretty well in her career!
      John
      ----------
      Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
      Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
      Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
      Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


        #4
        There are many fine young organists today. Nathan Laube is every bit the technical virtuoso as CC but without the flamboyance. I enjoyed Felix Hell's performance at last year's Rodgers Young Organist Competition where he served as judge. Isabelle Demers blew me away performing Bach as part WQXR's Bach-A-Thon last year and Carole Williams puts together eclectic programs at the console of Spreckles Organ as San Diego Municipal Organist.
        -Admin

        Allen 965
        Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
        Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
        Hauptwerk 4.2

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for those additional names, Admin. There are indeed a number of very talented young organists on the rise. And may their tribe increase!

          What is unfortunate is that these very committed and talented young people often get little press attention and draw small crowds when they perform, mostly from the already-convinced organ circle. Of course playing elaborate and colorful organ music is not considered as sexy as holding a microphone to your lips and screaming unintelligible lyrics into it to the beat of a drum or a track.

          This is one of my favorite Gert videos. Getting such amazing sounds of that old mechanical action, with the help of his Registrant, of course!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry6M2jivj6c
          John
          ----------
          Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
          Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
          Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
          Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
            Question... What do you all think of these guys? Which one has the best chance of becoming the standard-bearer for performing organists in our lifetimes?
            I see someone has already made the Fox vs. Biggs comparison, and I see your Cameron vs. Gert comparison as being a repeat of history. Other names have been floated, but it makes me wonder where Carlo Curley would fit in? I often wonder what happened to this young fellow, Rory (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUNgseXjbvU). I've used his video with many of my students, showing what is possible with a bit of discipline and work. I wonder if Rory or his parents will ever know the effect they've vicariously had on so many young lives!

            When one is young (under 30 or so), the music they play is astouding, amazing, and wonderful--the younger they are. However, when they've passed the "honeymoon stage," their performances need to stand on their own two feet.

            In the more recent videos of some of the names mentioned, I've noticed issues creeping into their playing as they have gained a name and have aged. Previously they've been flawless in their performances, but I've noticed registration, note, chord, and other errors creeping in, the more famous they become. Perhaps that's because they reach a point in their musical career where practice is a luxury, rather than a necessity. They're always being forced to put on a new "show," and that's often done at the expense of what is necessary. Practice is done to become familiar with a new organ for a concert, rather than practicing as a necessity. It is too bad that happens.

            I don't know too many young organists, but the other, older names are well-earned. What about ? Has he made the transition from young organist to older, well-established?

            Michael
            Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
            • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
            • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
            • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

            Comment


              #7
              Wow, I'd forgotten about Rory. He must be an older teen by now. Would be interesting to see what he has done with his talent. I see nothing new from him in six years. That's a shame.

              I'd say Raul has done very well. His latest videos seem to be as full of nuance and grace as the earlier ones. Good to see a guy who hasn't been spoiled by accomplishment and recognition. And his style is very different from Gert or Cameron. Variety is the spice of life!

              I find it really inspiring to watch anyone play with the kind of spirit these guys exhibit. Watching one of them play for a while is time well spent and seems to give my own arms and legs more energy when I do sit down to practice!
              John
              ----------
              Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
              Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
              Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
              Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

              Comment


                #8
                I had also forgotten about Rory. Watching him sit on the edge of the bench in order to reach the pedals made me even more impressed with his young talent. A quick Google search turned up a 2015 video from the Young Organist Collaborative. Do you think this is the same Rory? If it is, he clearly is eschewing Internet/YouTube fame (the original posts perhaps driven by his parents?) for serious study of the organ without that distraction.

                https://www.facebook.com/youngorganistcollaborativenh/posts/1558284761091036

                Thanks for the link to the Ramirez rendition of Danse Macabre. It's a stunning performance. I'll have to check out his more recent performances.
                Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand name.

                Main: Allen RMWTHEA.3 with Rocky Mount Electra-Piano, Allen 423-C + Gyro cabinet, Britson Opus OEM38, Saville Series IV Opus 209, Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI
                Lower Level: Hammond 9812H with roll player, Gulbransen Rialto, Roland E-200, Vintage Moog
                Shop: Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with 18 speakers and MIDI, 4 Allen theater organ tone cabinets (including 3 Gyros, but don't call me Gyro Gearloose!).

                Comment


                  #9
                  Could well be the same Rory. Hard to tell with the passing of so many years and not much of a look at his face either. I suspect as you do that the videos posted when he was just a tyke were a bit of parental bragging.

                  Perhaps now he is less interested in publicity than some players, but may well be on his way to quieter career, perhaps as an honest to goodness church musician. I know of at least one young player who was talked about here on this forum a few years back who has now disappeared from youtube. I understand that he is at a prestigious university studying to be a serious church musician rather than a "star". That's commendable, and is really what we all ought to aspire to, rather than stardom.

                  But those who manage to become genuine showmen for the organ are to be admired as well for bringing so much of the glory of the organ to the public who may never hear really good music in church or anywhere else.
                  John
                  ----------
                  Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                  Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                  Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                  Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                    But those who manage to become genuine showmen for the organ are to be admired as well for bringing so much of the glory of the organ to the public who may never hear really good music in church or anywhere else.
                    This is an interesting aspect of our culture. Without the standard bearers, who inspire far beyond their natural circle of influence, we would not have the cultural richness and growth that leads to the truly transcendent musicians and composers. Lest we forget that Bach was a noteworthy (or was it notorious) performer before he made a living as a composer. Beyond just his personal journey, his compositions only survive through the work (and transcription) of other musicians who continued to play and reinterpret his works for the Generation du jour.

                    The fact is that we respect those that are skilled, and who also have the ability to communicate. The important part is whether that communication resonates, and what about it gets our attention.

                    I see Cameron Carpenters performances as cerebral and innovative. Not always to my taste, but most of the time I am in awe. Actually, I am always in awe, but some performances are so incredible and full of energy, and they will be historic performances forever, given our internet based culture. Think of the Trinity Wall street video of the Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Phillip Sousa. He even flubs a piston and has to go back, but the performance is seamless and electric. That is serious skill and intuition, and that he does it with confidence at that age, actually belies a maturity that he is not credited with. People take issue with his lifestyle choices, but that is literally neither here nor there. His is one of, if not the, transcendent organist(s) of this generation. The fact that his tirades have brought him attention (unfavorable or otherwise) has only increased his sphere of influence, and so while that type of "alternate communication" (meaning, not just playing the organ) has brought him some unwanted attention, it has also likely attracted new followers. His total fan base increases, and so on and so forth. As P.T. Barnum said, "There's no such thing as bad Press". This is how legends are built, and this is the essential work of culture (the Meme). It is how we progress as a society, and that is why these types of figures are rewarded. His incredible showmanship represents a mixture of talant, skill, hard work, and confidence that is often respected and rewarded culturally. Similar to someone like Micheal Jordan, or Muhammad Ali.

                    Gert, on the other hand, is quite nearly flawless in his performances, and seems to be very rigorous. His energy comes from a different place. His performances are good (great, actually) and obviously he is doing quite well. He has thus far kept a fairly low profile, and so what we know of him (as organists) is relatively pure, in a certain way. We judge the music on its merits, and it is extremely meritorious. His style is more conservative than the style expressed by CC. Now, I may live in Vermont, but I don't automatically think that everything conservative is bad (sorry, couldn't help it during this crazy primary season). In fact, I think the other way to look at what Gert does is that he exercises restraint. It is this restraint that we recognizes as the "Biggsian" quality in Gert. And conversely, it is the willingness to take risk that we see as the "Foxian" quality in CC.

                    I tend to respect the ability to show restraint more, as I believe it shows Wisdom. But I am left in awe of the willingness to take risks, and pull it off.

                    Both types of musicians are worthy of respect, and both add to our increased cultural richness, which will in turn multiply and foment newer and richer contributors. CC has a stronger aura, but Gert's energy has a certain purity about it.
                    “There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”
                    “What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.”
                    Johann Sebastian Bach

                    (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
                    (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Excellent thoughts, Arthur. Thanks for your observations. I've come to pretty nearly the same conclusions about both these guys. I only wish I could gain a small fraction of the skill and energy that these youngsters bring to the bench!
                      John
                      ----------
                      Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                      Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                      Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                      Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                      Comment


                        #12
                        When Gert plays, it is about the music and when he has those wonderful pipe organs at his disposal it helps making good music easier.
                        When Cameron plays, it is mostly about Cameron such as (look what I can do), and the digitals he plays also do not help getting the music out.
                        The extreme ends of the musical spectrum between these two performers is far greater than the old comparisons between Fox vs Biggs, whose recitals we have attended during 70s 80s
                        I would place Gert musically somewhere between Fox-Biggs. Cameron is out in the wild blue yonder musically speaking, with his speed and skills, all on extremes, the pipe organ is no longer usable since the pipes cant speak fast enough for the sounds to be an intelligible coherent effort at music making.
                        But there is room for any kind of performer in this world, to each his or her own. Just keep making music, there is always someone willing to listen and maybe even pay for it.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have been following Gert since he was about 11 years old on Youtube and he is a fine player if a little academic. I find his performances enjoyable but not especially exciting. I can't compare him to Cameron Carpenter though. No matter what you think of his style and views Cameron is supernally gifted in a way not many musicians are.He has a brain like a computer. I think Gert's ability comes from hard work and enthusiasm but Cameron's comes from God: just my opinion!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Now I have to be honest here but I’m not a fan of Cameron Carpenter. I don’t have anything offensive to say (though that probably won’t stop members of the Cameron fan club from dropping their monocles into their champagne over some mere negative remarks) but what I have to say is not positive.
                            My opinion I think can be summed up by this speech on the term edgy in a clip from the animated TV series Daria.
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqJTMl1F9Wg
                            So basically as much as everyone sees him as being some sort of big anti-establishment figure to me he just feels like something that was created by business men.
                            One cartoon character that I personally think Cameron relates to is Poochie from the Simpsons. The reason why is because I think episode which Poochie is in (episode 14 season 8) loosely relates to what has been going on in the organ world. So to summarize what happened in the episode the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons were starting to run out of steam. So after an enlightening speech from Lisa Simpson the studio was inspired to rejuvenate Itchy and scratchy by creating a new character for it called Poochie. But the significance of Poochie was that he was a character that kids can relate to. But Poochie was a flop because Poochie doesn’t relate to the younger generation. It’s probably a bit far-fetched but I think the organ world has been following a similar path. For example- the organs popularity falls onto hard time and needs to save its self by reaching out to the younger generation. Cameron then comes along clamming to be some sort of savour. Only difference is that he has come out as some sort of success.
                            I have three theories as to why he didn’t flop like Poochie. The first theories is that he’s mainly popular with an older generation, the second is that most critics are to embarrass to say anything unflattering about him because they may get lot of backlash from the Cameron fan club condemning them for being some sort of purist. And then third reason (which I think is the real reason for his popularity) which you can find by clicking the link below to a review of the movie Moulin Rouge and then fast forward to a certain segment of the review which is between 37:00 and 39:29.
                            I should mention that because I’m not posting this rant in the grease pit I probably should warn you that the videos do contain a bit of everyday swearing but I’m sure most of the members of the organ forum are old enough to hear the odd rude word.
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPUPcD91mXY
                            Speaking of edgy cartoon characters there is also a show that was made sometime around the early 200’s called Loonatics Unleashed which I also think relates very well to Cameron. You can see a mention of this cartoon in a video of top 10 edgy cartoons around 6:18 to 7:26 in the link below.

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UzWhtQBNoE

                            Q "When are we going to get to the fireworks factory?!"




                            Last edited by F Kalbrenner; 02-08-2018, 04:14 AM.

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                              #15
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGjnwsaYdww

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