Organic Lunches at Ulster Hall feature Colm Carey

Belfast City Organist Colm Carey is in the driving seat of the Mulholland Grand Organ on March 4 and 13 at the Ulster Hall Organic Lunches, which start this week
Jane Hardy

THE series of musical Organic Lunches at the Ulster Hall, featuring outstanding recitals on the venue's pipe organ, starts up again tomorrow, when German organist Babett Hartmann will be pulling out all the stops.

Denmark-based Hartmann's recital includes work by Baroque genius Buxtehude, contemporary Danish composer de Murashkin and 20th century Czech composer Petr Eben.

Belfast City Organist Colm Carey, who's in charge of the Ulster Hall's magnificent Mulholland organ on March 4, says he's looking forward to playing a JS Bach-related programme on the instrument, of which he has become something of a champion, at home and abroad.

"It can be incredibly loud – I'm not sure how many decibels, but it can also be incredibly quiet. The organ has the full dynamic of colour," he tells Thursday Review.

Carey (48), whose music career began when he was a choirboy at St Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork, admits the problem with organ music for people today is often the religious connotation.

"Yet half the repertoire is secular and I'll be playing Romantic organ sonatas by Mendelssohn, who was influenced by Bach's style – although there's a crazy toccata where he lets his hair down," he enthuses.

He was responsible for the revival of interest in Bach's music in the 19th century. Mendelssohn was the one who said 'Hey, guys, there's this amazing composer we should listen to.'"

There is also a link between the Ulster Hall's Mulholland and Mendelssohn as one of the first organists to play the instrument when it was installed in the 1860s, Edmund Chipp, was great friends with the composer.

On April 13 Carey will be performing a concert with trumpeter Paul Young. This may not seem an obvious marriage of instruments but in fact works very well, the organist says.

"It's a fabulous combination as they're both loud instruments but they can also be an intimate duo in a big space. We're playing three pieces together, including a suite of airs by Jeremiah Clarke, who sounds like Handel and is known for the trumpet piece often played at weddings, which you'll hear."

The Organic Lunches programme also features Joe McKee on April 22, playing his choice of the organ repertoire.

:: Concerts start at 1pm.; box office 028 9033 4455.

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