Don’t be fooled by the “Liberace of the organ”: there’s a very serious musician behind the glitzy facade.
LL: The flashy way you present yourself as a showman – right down to the sequined shoes – certainly challenges the perception of the organ as a stuffy, cobweb-covered instrument. Do you encounter a lot of outrage from your older colleagues?
CC: The whole concept of a showman is really passé. In the backward and closeted world of classical music, in which the organ runs about 25 years behind, of course I come up against criticism. But at the same time I’m the best-paid organist in the world and I’m the only organist filling concert halls all over the world.
You shockingly hear people in the organ community talking about young organists having big egos as though this is a terrible thing. But consider how, in fashion or in filmmaking, the idea of a strong personality and individuality is not only highly encouraged; it’s actually a requisite.
You dress like a glam-rock artist, and I’ve seen footage of you doing push-ups in front of your audience! How important are appearances to you as a performer?
I have a strong hand in...