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66

Cameron Carpenter

All You Need is Bach

Free event, admission allowed upon collection of tickets (max 4 to person). Distribution online and at national VivaTicket outlets.
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Friday
7
July
2023
at
18:00
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Friday
7
July
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18:00
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2023
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2023
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2023
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2023
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Duration 70 minutes
Music

Synopsis

The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria degli Angeli hosts one of the most anticipated concerts of Spoleto66.

It is within this symbolic place of Christianity, - within its walls San Francesco understood his vocation - that the American artist Cameron Carpenter will be the interpreter on the organ of a program of great intensity and magnetism that finds in the music of Bach a staple of the instrument, and in the instrument a "machine of scintillating emotions."

Unanimously recognized as the greatest living organist, Carpenter, born in 1981, has shattered the taboos of classical music culture through his skill and musicality. Trained at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, he established himself from immediately as the virtuoso par excellence.

His fluidity, confidence and skill are put to at the service of a vast repertoire that includes original compositions and hundreds of transcriptions and arrangements-and his use of technique automatically places him alongside to figures such as Glenn Gould and Wendy Carlos.

Credits

Program

organ Cameron Carpenter

‍‍

Johann Sebastian Bach

Fantasia and fugue in C minor BWV 537

Prelude Chorale on O Mensch, bewein' dein Sünde gross BWV 622

Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major St. Anne BWV 552

‍‍

Goldberg Variations

Hall Program

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Text by Giordano Tedoldi

Paradoxical as it may seem, it is very difficult today to listen to Bach. To do so with the immediacy, the unscrupulousness, the impudence with which one listens to Sanremo songs, or the new single, freshly launched on Spotify, of a popular band. It goes from without saying that his art has far greater complexity, but since this is never an end to itself - as is the case in some offshoots of contemporary music - it is entirely permissible to turn to Bach through the most unprepared and exciting of experiences: listening to him from zero, as if we were just born to music.

After all, even Bach has his hits, his instantly catchy hits, such as the Goldberg Variations, which we hear in the second part of this concert. The simple aria to two voices that opens the composition, then shaped into thirty variations of which each is a to universe in itself, has become a familiar melody no less than certain songs that, after a couple of listens, do not want to dislodge from our minds. Now, imagine that in a parallel universe, Lucio Battisti, having composed the melody of "Con il nastro rosa" -- in its entirety of verse and refrain, thus bipartite, like Bach's aria (and all its variations) --, instead of using it as it is in an album song, decides to exploit it to generate thirty perfectly self-contained variations of it: we would have the "Battisti Variations." Here, in our universe, we are luckier because we already have the Goldbergs, which perfectly accomplish the same task: to enrapture us with an aria, that is, an easy, catchy melody just like a beautiful song, and then, like a magic seed, listen to it sprout into thirty admirably varied blooms, but all unmistakably traceable to the common origin.

Naïve, surrendered, nonaggressive listening, then. Benignly regressive. If we propose this solution, which is so radical and which some will consider blasphemous, it is because to fury to emphasize the complexity and dizzying speculative height of his compositions, qualifying them as severe, impersonal, even scientific, as if they were the musical equivalent of quantum mechanics, it has resulted in the mere name of Bach intimidating highly refined listeners, and being wielded, through no fault of his own, as a sword dividing real music, the kind that Nobel laureates in physics like, and which conceals within it all sorts of enigmas, from entertainment production, which ordinary people like. A result that far from returning to praise of Bach, as is claimed, limits his power. Even such a brilliant interpreter of his as Glenn Gould argued that only in the most polyphonically intricate pieces would Bach reveal his true face, and that in such graceful works as the Concerto for Two Violins in D min. or even some of the Goldberg Variations there was a concession to the taste of the time. But why not assume, instead, that Bach enjoyed to composing even those more singable pieces, and that the four, sprightly, impertinent duets that follow the severe twenty-one chorale preludes of the Third Part of the Clavier Übung were not put there for inscrutable reasons, but because he liked them and they too were a pure expression of his art?

True, Bach is beloved from chess players, mathematicians and physicists, some of whom go so far to as to say that his compositions express that simple, austere beauty in which, to quote a Nobel laureate, Steven Weinberg, "every note is exactly in its place"-just the kind of beauty that animates, for example, Einstein's theory of relativity; but it is equally beloved from those who cannot calculate the area of the square and, despite Carlo Rovelli's efforts, have not figured out what exactly happens in a black hole, to apart from the fact that it is pitch black. Because of their harmonious perfection, some of Bach's compositions, such as theArt of the Fugue, sound, perhaps even more than properly sacred works such as the Passions or the Mass in B min., like musical proof of God's existence, but here the emphasis must beat on the adjective, "musical," precisely: the epiphany of the divine, in Bach, is had by remaining within the music, not by subtle or abstruse arguments, symbolism or numerology. The Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, author of some beautiful films, including, not to be missed, the three grouped in the so-called "Trilogy of the Silence of God," comes to mind to in this regard: stark, desperate, nihilistic films. Yet a man so crucified by the aphasia of divinity, and by the noises of nothingness, turned to to Bach; in "As in a Mirror" (1961), the two protagonists become aware of their tragic fate accompanied, one would say consoled, by the at once scratchy and caressing notes of the sarabande from the Second Suite for Cello in D min.

In this concert we hear very complex works, rich in contrapuntal doctrine, such as the dramatic (and sometimes stormy) fugues that follow the Fantasia in G min. and the Prelude in Eb., or the sweeter, more intimate ones of diaphanous iridescence, such as the two in C major and F major, taken from the second book of the Well-Tempered Clavier; but who says that, in the first instance, it is impossible to appreciate these feats unless one knows more or less expertly their styles, techniques, procedures? Why, in short, is it permissible to love Pink Floyd or the Doors even without knowing how to distinguish a C major from a C minor, and for Bach, on the other hand, it would seem required to recite the definition of an inverse canon or a triple fugue? "Because Bach's complexity requires it," is the most common answer; no, Bach's complexity, being embodied not in a manual of harmony (which Bach never wrote, to unlike other composers perhaps not as great as himself) but in collections of music, cannot be learned in the abstract. I insist: Bach is not a concept, and his compositions are not theories or summae. They are musical works, and as the Wheatfield with Crows Flying can strike to the heart even those who have not delved into the artist's psychological labyrinths, because it is a miraculous painting, not a psychiatric report, and because van Gogh, as Artaud wrote, in the paroxysm of his yellow remains within the confines of painting, so it is with Bach's sonic tapestries, whose elaborate textures, to be enjoyed, need nothing more than ears and the trillions (to keep it down) of synapses per second of an open mind, without walls, neither fearful nor conceited.

I advise you to approach to this concert with a libertine mindset, more attracted to the mystery, to knowing almost nothing about the object of love, rather than clumsy from boring and gossipy information. Will it not be believed that, in Bach's time, everyone who entered the church and listened to Johann Sebastian himself at the organ bench was a musicologist? Of course, there were also other composers and organists, certainly some amateurs or amateurs, but for the most part they were, musically speaking, laymen, there were kids, children. In short, people like us. And they stood spellbound listening to Bach improvising on a theme for a good half hour, showing off the full coloristic range of those splendid German organs that, on many occasions, he had been called to to test and to perfect.

So, finally, who is Bach's ideal listener? He is not a scholar, not a scientist, not an artist: he is a human being who acts, suffers, wants, renounces, rejoices, suffers. And it is perhaps in certain humbler pieces, suffused with virtuous modesty -- such as, in our concert, the Chorale Prelude on "O Mensch, bewein' dein Sünde gross," while the Fantasia on "Komm, Heiliger Geist," with its character of exuberant and luminous appeal, approaches Bach's lavish manner -- that today's listener will find most resonance with his or her own experience; their sublime conciseness a mirror of his fragility, their fleeting but unforgettable poetry a shimmering reflection of nostalgic bliss, the same that, in our domestic dens, plagued from thoughts, neuroses, frustrations, we continue to to pursue, often seeking it in the invisible world of sounds, where no one can hand it to us as naturally as Bach.

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Dates & Tickets

Free event, admission allowed upon collection of tickets (max 4 to person). Distribution online and at national VivaTicket outlets.
TICKETING INFO
Fri
07
Jul
2023
at
18:00
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
at
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
Event Times
June 28
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
June 29
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
June 30
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
01 July
10:00
11:00
12:00
13:15
14:15
15:30
16:30
17:45
20:30
21:30
02 July
10:00
11:00
12:00
13:15
14:15
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
21:45
04 July
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
05 July
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
06 July
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
07 July
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
08 July
10:00
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
15:15
16:30
17:30
18:30
20:45
21:45
09 July
10:00
11:00
12:00
13:00
14:15
17:30
18:30
19:45
20:45
21:45

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Biographies

Cameron Carpenter

With his extraordinary musicality and infinite technical skill, American organist Cameron Carpenter is one of the outstanding talents of the international music scene. His pioneering spirit has already left its mark on the latest music history: with the International Touring Organ (ITO), built according to Cameron's own plans, he has toured not only Europe and the United States, but also Australia, New Zealand and Asia. In 2022 Cameron recorded J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations and his arrangement of Howard Hanson's Romantic Symphony for the Decca label. In 2019 he released Sergei Rachmaninoff's Paganini Variations and Francis Poulenc's Organ Concerto with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin conducted from Christoph Eschenbach for Sony Classical, a recording that was awarded the OPUS KLASSIK 2020. Previous recordings released from Sony Classical include the albums All You Need is Bach (2016) and If You Could Read My Mind (2013). Cameron Carpenter was the first organist ever to to receive a GRAMMY nomination for his album Revolutionary (2008, Telarc). The album Cameron Live! (2010) was also released from Telarc. In 2021 he performed Miloslav Kabeláč's Symphony No. 3 for organ, brass and percussion with the Dresdner Philharmonie under Tomáš Netopil for Deutschlandfunk Kultur. The current season sees Cameron engaged in concerts to Berlin, Luxembourg, Graz, Wroclaw and a tour of the United States. Born in 1981 in Pennsylvania, USA, Cameron first performed J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier at the age of eleven and became a member of the American Boychoir School in 1992. In addition to his mentor Beth Etter, he had John Bertalot and James Litton as teachers. At the University of North Carolina School of the Arts he studied composition and organ with John E. Mitchener. Cameron has transcribed more than 100 works for organ, including Mahler's Symphony No. 5, and while a student at the Juilliard School in New York, which he attended from 2000 to 2006, he combined composition of original works with piano study with Miles Fusco. In 2011 his concerto for organ and orchestra The Scandal was premiered by Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen at the Kölner Philharmonie, and in 2021 his overture for orchestra and organ Great Expectations was performed by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. In 2012 Cameron received the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.

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