- Thierry Escaich's recital at St. Paul's, combining masterly performances of the standard French recital with his own compositions and an extended improvisation,
- A performance by Rachel Laurin consisting entirely of preludes and fugues, all but two of which were by contemporary Canadian composers - and it worked!
- The appearance of Parry's hymn tune "Rustington" at the annual College Service, which in a sane world would be in the standard repertoire,
- A panel discussion on the future of the organ that avoided the extremes of both Chicken Little and Doctor Pangloss.
Here is an iconoclastic organist and composer whose "masterly playing" has been described by The Wall Street Journal as "alternately dazzling and subtle, and always fired by profound musical intelligence."Ummm. Why is "The" capitalized? Why is "masterly playing" in scare quotes? But what amuses me most is the use of the word "iconoclastic," which appears in every article ever written that references Carpenter. Anyone who's visited the medieval churches of England will have seen the wake of destruction left by iconoclasm: broken stained-glass windows, statues and wood carvings defaced with chisels, beautiful paintings and murals whitewashed. Organs, of course, were also prime targets for the iconoclasts, and the excesses of the Reformation and the English Civil War destroyed countless historic instruments throughout Britain. In other words, if the people assembling Carpenter's press kit had any idea what the word "iconoclastic" actually means - namely, a sort of destructive Puritanism - they would realize it shouldn't be used to describe an organist. (Perhaps these are the same people who described the work of feminist musicologist Susan McLary as "seminal".)
In any case, whenever I found myself bored between convention events, I could imagine all sorts of neo-Puritan dramas in my head: Cameron Carpenter leads a group of torch-wielding peasants into St. Bartholomew's and orders them to destroy all popish ornaments, finally melting down the organ pipes to make farming implements - or, better yet, a Cameron Carpenter recital is interrupted by Oliver Cromwell and/or Ulrich Zwingli, and the expressions of mounting horror on their faces as they realize he's not the sort of iconoclast they were expecting. . .
That's quite enough. Happy 100th birthday, RCCO!