Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Organ Spectacular at the Walt Disney Concert Hall

Because we were out the night before because of the meteors, we got back to the hotel around 7am.  After sleeping in until 11:30, we headed to the outlet malls.  Boring...
We grabbed a quick lunch at Arbys and then started the long drive back to Los Angeles.

Not much later, we got back together with the Bakers to head into downtown LA.  We've got tickets to the Holiday Organ Spectacular at the beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall.  

We decided to leave a little earlier and do dinner downtown.  We chose the Panini Cafe, just a few blocks from the concert hall.  The ambiance of the restaurant was great.  The food was not so much.  I ordered a Panini (the one that was recommended on the menu) and the bread came out soggy.  I tried Theresa's chicken kabob and it wasn't seasoned at all.  A for ambiance, C for food. 

When you're inside the concert hall, the main centerpiece is the huge pipe organ.  We've attended a few events here, and while the organ has been played, it's always in the background.  Tonight, the only two things we'll hear are the organ and a featured soloist. 

Our host and the organ player tonight is David Higgs.  

Our seats for the night were awesome!  We were in front enough to be able to see everyone's face, but to the side enough to really be able to appreciate David Higg's mastery of this instrument. 
The organ itself has 4 rows of 61 keys each, along with 32 pedal keys.  Watch him play all over the keyboard, and even play entire sections with just his feet was amazing.  So much control to have all 4 extremities doing something different.
The WDCH organ has 6000 different pipes connected to the organ console, even though you only see some of the larger pipes from the front.  They have tiny little pipes that play really high frequencies, plus some monster 32 foot pipes that play really low bass that just rumbles through your body. 
Along with playing the organ and listening to the music, David even took 10 minutes to explain to everyone a little bit more about how the organ works.  When you press a key on the console, it allows air to flow through a pipe.  Along the sides of the console are tabs called "stops".  When these are set, it allows air to flow through another pipe of the same key, but an octave higher.  So when only one key is pressed, multiple pipes can have air blowing through them to create sound.  Wikipedia explains it so much better than I could.

I learned that the phrase "Pull out all the stops" originated from the stops on an organ.

You can read a lot more about the Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ here.

The concert itself was fantastic!  It was a combination of somber Christmas music that you just closed your eyes and listened to, as well as peppy songs that the whole audience was encouraged to sing along with.  We got to see David really put the organ through its paces when he played "Prelude and Fugue in D major" by Bach.  This was something written by Bach to impress his fellow composers and organ players and really stretched the limits of the organist's talent.  Entire sections were played with just the feet, and there were times when all four appendages were doing something different.

We might just have a new holiday tradition!

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