Saturday, June 20, 2020
Pipe Dreams on Independent Lens
Evidently, there were five focal organists in Tenenbaum’s festival cut, but only four for the broadcast edit. Oh well, it just shows how brutal the CIOC eliminations get. The competition culminates in Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, but the musicians spend months planning, practicing, and stressing. Alcee Chriss III from Texas has a background in jazz and gospel. Despite the risks, he intends to try a little jazz in his free program. Nick Capozolli, hailing from Pittsburgh, will probably take any even greater chance playing the work of avant-garde composers like John Cage.
In contrast, German prodigy Sebastien Heindl sticks to the arch-classical, in the tradition of his namesake. Yuan Shen, the daughter of China’s most prominent pipe organist, would like to be more daring like Capozolli, but her father-coach insists on a traditional set-list. All four are very talented, as the audience can plainly hear. Three of them also have a lot of personality, so you will probably pick them as favorites to pull for. There is no question jazz fans will line-up with Team Chriss, who does indeed swing the pipe organ, with a bebop standard, which is very cool.
Whether you live-and-breath pipe organ music, or could take it or leave it, Tenenbaum’s documentary presents an appealing portrait of some young, talented, and maybe slightly neurotic musicians performing at their peaks. It might just stretch your ears in a good way. Enthusiastically recommended, Pipe Dreams premieres this coming Monday night (6/22), on most PBS stations nationwide.