Perth’s ‘Wunderkid Organist’ is a showman and innovator

Perth born and raised musician Alessandro Pittorino has been hailed by ABC TV as “Australia’s Wunderkid Organist”. He’s performed for Lady Gaga and Nicole Kidman amongst others, and was the first Australian organist to graduate from the prestigious Juilliard School in NYC. He is a total innovator and showman, and after witnessing the magic of his performance, I wanted to know more about this exciting artist. We talked about Alessandro’s interest in the organ, his journey in music, and upcoming concert.

The organ is such a unique instrument! What sparked your interest in the organ at such an early age?

I thought the organ was a magical instrument – quite literally. Harry Potter had just been released and I was obsessed with it, and it just happened to coincide with time I first heard and witnessed someone play the organ. The person was in one location, but the sound was coming from all around the building! Knowing nothing about how it worked, I just thought it was magic! The sound was magical as well – all these different colours coming from one instrument? It was so intriguing and I was immediately hooked.

You’ve been hailed Australia’s Wunderkid Organist, what has your journey to that title been like?

It’s very humbling when people take notice of the work you’re doing, and follow what you’re doing. If you are truly genuine in who you are as an artist then fame and fortune may or may not come your way, but it is NOT the end game and I truly believe that something far greater can be achieved.

Music is my passion; but it’s a lot of hard work. Countless hours of practicing on a daily basis, refining music you already know whilst also learning new pieces. It’s a lot of lonely hours at the keyboard, but I do it because I believe that this music is powerful and has the ability to reach people at their level – wherever they’re at in life.

You were the first Australian organist to graduate Juilliard… What were some of the highlights of your time in NYC?

First and foremost, studying with my teacher Paul Jacobs. He is the first organist to ever win a GRAMMY Award, but more than that he is extraordinarily passionate about music and the organ, and he lives what he teaches. He is an inspiring and hugely influential mentor to me and the path I’m trying to create as a musician.

I have had the privilege of performing for countless audiences across the world, but there is one performance I’ll remember for a long time. Having the (unexpected) chance to meet and perform for Lady Gaga is one of the most memorable occasions so far. She was so lovely to talk to, incredibly humble, and her words of encouragement hit me strong and really gave me a moral boost that I needed at the time. Perhaps another time I’ll go into detail about how that meeting happened.

What do you think the future of the instrument is in Australia and worldwide?

The future of the instrument is in the hands of the people who play it. It is those people who will draw audiences to it, encourage performing arts organizations to program performances of organists, rally communities together to have instruments built and installed. The organ as an instrument and profession is very much on the fringe here in Australia and has an incredible amount of potential that is yet to be discovered. My goal is to put the organ and forefront of performance so that more people discover the potential of how artistically satisfying this instrument and people who play it can be. But first, we need the instruments. Perth, for example, has a very limited range of instruments in performance spaces and I would love to see that changed. These instruments can have a huge impact on the culture of a community – a cultural heartbeat – a huge force that can unite music lovers of all different styles and bring people together.

You relate to your audiences so well in person away from your instrument also, do you think that’s an important part of performing?

Yes, very much so. When I am performing I am totally engrossed in what I am doing – trying to bring out the best of the music and being devoted to it. For some audiences, specifically new ones, this can be off putting as this music is reaching you on a different level, probably one they are not used to as the music has no words. If do not invite your audience in, you will lose them. That is why I like to communicate to my audience – I want them to know and trust me so that when we go on this musical journey they free from the pressures of the world and can open their ears, minds and hearts to something new and hopefully take something from it for themselves. I care a great deal about the people who I perform for and I do not take lightly the fact that what I do can impact people’s thoughts, feelings and emotions. You are hoping your audience will open up to you – so you have to be the leader and start that off.

What can audiences expect from your upcoming concert.

On September 8th audiences can expect to hear a whole variety of music, from the intense and emotionally charged, sweet and cute, to down right funny. We’ll have screens up so that people can see my hands and feet in action up close. Expected to hear the unexpected, as well as music that you may know imagined in a different way.

Alessandro is performing this Sunday (September 8) At St Mary’s Church, South Perth, 2.30-4.30pm. Sponsored by the City of South Perth – tickets at the door only. For more info head to aussieorganist.com/calendar

Words & image:- Claire Alexander


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