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Local musicians will have a rare chance to play a historic pipe organ in one of Philadelphia's iconic churches.But most have never played a pipe organ before. As a result, the weeklong experimental music festival called Blindspot, at Christ Church in Old City, will feature the organ in ways it wasn't intended.
"None of the mystery of electronic stuff that I always have a hard time remembering how they work," says Steven Dufala, a visual artist who used to be in the band Man Man. "This is such a great analog thing -- it's air. It's air being pushed through this thing and making sound."
"We're finding ways to make the organ sound wrong, and embracing that sound," said Thiboldeaux, who normally plays electronic keyboard in his band. "For people like us who are in bands that often do that anyway with instruments, the learning curve isn't that big."Christ Church has given its blessings to these musicians to noodle with the organ and tease sounds out of it that are not found in the usual church repertoire."If you think back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the church played the critical role in the support of musicians and artists," said the Rev. Tim Safford. "That relationship with avant-garde artists has diminished in the 20th century. Artists have found other sources of inspiration and support. Christ Church takes very seriously the idea that we are trying to gain some of that back."
Zorn ably altered the pipe organ's mix of rich bassoon-like sounds, fluty coos, and brassy whines as he toyed with every knob that controlled oscillation and tone. The most effective, even psychedelic, trick that Zorn pulled came after a bout of ham-fisted hammering and gentle celestial twittering, when he turned the organ's blower off. Suddenly but slowly, the wind was gone from its pipes, leaving the organ to detune into an eerie fade-out. The audience gasped.Heavenly.Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/music/117567443.html#ixzz1G8QNitG7Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else
In just a year and a half, Subkirke has become the area’s place to experience new music. The venue consistently books national bands and artists that are not exactly household names, but should be. Already this month, Subkirke has presented concerts by the Chicago-based band Maps and Atlases and singer-songwriter Shara Worden, otherwise known as My Brightest Diamond.Subkirke is located in the South Bend Christian Reformed Church, which contains a huge pipe organ in the back of the sanctuary, where the concerts take place.
The more adventurous bands can’t resist including the pipe organ in their performances. One such band is Frontier Ruckus, who appeared at Subkirke in October and is making a return engagement Thursday.Frontier Ruckus singer-guitarist-songwriter Matthew Milia says the band members were excited to see the pipe organ that takes up the back wall, but none more so than multi-instrumentalist Zachary Nichols.“Zach, the lover of strange and, especially, antique instruments, was definitely looking for a way to incorporate that ancient pipe organ,” Milia says in a phone interview from his home in West Bloomfield, Mich.As it is, Frontier Ruckus likes to end its concerts by venturing into the audience to play “unplugged,” and the pipe organ fit into that scheme.“It is a nice way to end the show,” Milia says. “It is an element of performance that we really feel comfortable doing. All of our instruments lend themselves to acoustic playing. They really emphasize the singing. I don’t have to worry about microphones.”
Frontier Ruckus performs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Subkirke, 1855 N. Hickory Road, South Bend. Scout and the Finches, winner of the Bethel Battle of the Bands, open the concert. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. For more information, call 574-272-8424 or visit the website subkirke.com.
The larger hall is where all of Subkirke's concerts have been held so far. This is the sanctuary of the church, but it is extremely well suited to concerts. The 30 channel sound system offers up to five independent monitor mixes, and is adapted to the room perfectly. The room itself has an amazing acoustic, every single band that comes through comments on how good everything sounds in the room. Additionally, there is a concert grand Mason and Hamlin piano, and an historic William Johnson and Sons pipe organ (built in 1883) in the room - and the bands have made good use of these instruments (see the pictures section where the bands go back to the organ and the audience sits around them
Pipe Organ and Indie Rock in Indiana
by Susan Vanden BergMay 4, 2012 — Rock music and pipe organs don’t generally go hand in hand. But at South Bend (Ind.) Christian Reformed Church they do. For more than two years, the church has served as a part-time indie rock concert venue known as Subkirke.Six to 12 times a year, bands including the BowerBirds, Chris Bathgate, and Frontier Ruckus jam in the sanctuary against a backdrop of liturgical art. Musicians love the space for its acoustics, lack of typical venue distractions like televisions, and built-in instrument.“The musicians almost always spend a lot of time playing our 130-year-old pipe organ,” said David Banga, worship and arts director for the church, as well as artistic director of Subkirke. “Many of them even include it in their shows.”In a town with five colleges, the ministry provides a way for South Bend CRC to build friendly relationships with college students and others in the community. The concerts serve as a “side door” entry to those who have lost touch with the church.Through word of mouth, Subkirke is becoming an increasingly popular place for bands to visit between tour performances in bigger cities.“[An] exciting side of this is that we’re really ministering in many ways to the musicians themselves, not just the audience. The majority of the musicians who come through have some church background, but have stopped attending,” Banga said. “We’re showing them that there are churches that are interested in what they do, and we’re happy to host them.”Many members of South Bend CRC have attended at least one of the concerts—even some of those skeptical about such an atypical ministry.“Without exception, those who come and see the audience interacting with various members of our church, or reading the literature on why we have the concerts, or simply hanging out in our sanctuary, see the value of what we are doing,” said Banga. “It is a very different approach to ministry, and I applaud our congregation for being so supportive.”