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Christopher Hartwell @Silienceseen

Often called the king of instruments, the pipe organ is a large and complex musical mechanism much bigger than any other. Thus, seeing the performance of a professional musician who is a master of said instrument is not only rare but is also an impressively meteoric event to behold.

On Feb. 28, 2017 former LPC Dean of Arts and Letters Philip Manwell came to Asbury United Methodist Church to perform eighteenth century organ music for a live audience. This event was free to the public and was presented as a part of the Las Positas College President’s Speaker Series.

For many in attendance, this was the first time hearing an organ live in concert as organs are typically only heard in movies and occasionally on electric pianos as a synthesized sound. Several audience members stated how unique and beautiful the experience was.

They also noted how different it was from anything they had ever heard before.

One of the spectators of the performance Amelia Aarestad, a student studying for landscape architecture, had a few words to add when asked for their perspective on the night’s performance. Aarestad said, “I thought it was wonderful. It was really really amazing.Like others, I’ve never seen or heard a live organ performance like this. I’ve heard synthesized organs, but it’s really not the same thing at all.”

There were several twists and turns throughout the concert that were quite extraordinary to behold.

Sonali Rajurkar, LPC student and medicine major attending the concert was pleasantly surprised by both the instrumental sound and the musical composition. Rajurkar said, “You expect it to go a certain way music wise and then it’s a complete surprise because I wasn’t expecting it. At that one high note he went completely low and that’s incredible, a shift in octaves. It was really incredible, amazing and hopefully I’ll be able to see another performance like that. I loved it.”

Among the observations of the performance, one common theme was remarks about how unique and beautiful the reverberations of the organ pipes were in the hands of the talented Manwell. On top of playing the pieces with a zeal and precision only possible for an expert performer of this instrument, Manwell surprised his audience with the range and variation of notes played.

Student and music major Helena Ellis Do Amaral said, “It was absolutely gorgeous. I had never heard an organ in concert and this was a completely new experience. I was surprised by how many different sounds and how many different types of sound this organ could make.”

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