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INDEPENDENT LENS: Pipe Dreams

Yuan Shen plays in the Central Conservatory of Music Beijing.
Courtesy of Van Royko
Yuan Shen plays in the Central Conservatory of Music Beijing.

Encore Monday, Dec. 20, 2021 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV + Saturday, Dec. 25 at 9 a.m. on KPBS 2 / On Demand

—Documentary Brings Viewers Inside the High Stakes World of Competitive Organ Music—

Filmmaker Stacey Tenenbaum’s refreshing and surprising documentary “Pipe Dreams” challenges preconceived notions about this age-old instrument while introducing viewers to a new generation of passionate young organists, and shines a spotlight on the largely unexplored world of competitive organ playing. “Pipe Dreams” made its broadcast debut on INDEPENDENT LENS Monday, June 22, 2020

Tenenbaum charts the journeys of four ultra-talented organ players in the intense lead up to the Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC), widely regarded as the Olympics for organ music, attracting virtuosi under the age 35 from all over the world.

Alcee Chriss III plays at Notre Dame.
Courtesy of Pierre-Etienne Bordeleau
Alcee Chriss III plays at Notre Dame.

Competitors grapple with personal pressures and anxieties and push their incredible abilities to the limit. Held every three years in Montreal, the prestigious CIOC demands the very best from young talent around the globe.

Sebastian Heindl practices the organ in Leipzig, Germany.
Courtesy of Pierre-Etienne Bordeleau
Sebastian Heindl practices the organ in Leipzig, Germany.

Organists featured in "Pipe Dreams" are:

  • Yuan Shen, the daughter of China’s most famous organist, who believes that in order to win her will must be twice as strong as the strength and stamina of her competition;
  • Alcee Chriss III of Texas, whose unique style and joyful playing is influenced by his musical background with gospel and jazz;
  • Nick Capozzoli of Pittsburgh, who is willing to take big risks through performing obscure, modern music;
  • Competitive newcomer 19-year-old Sebastian Heindl, the youngest person to ever compete in the CIOC, who taught himself to play at age 11 in the same town, Leipzig, Germany, as his idol and namesake Johann Sebastian Bach.

Featuring personal at-home footage as well as a seat at the bench alongside these competitors at the CIOC, "Pipe Dreams" highlights the immense mental and physical discipline that the “king of instruments” demands from these young musicians, how their talents and ambitions are reinvigorating the world of competitive organ playing, and ultimately reveals who will come out on top as the winner.

Mona Rozdestvenskyte plays the organ.
Courtesy of Emily Gan
Mona Rozdestvenskyte plays the organ.

Watch On Your Schedule:

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Join The Conversation:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter.#IndieLensPBS #PipeDreamsFilmPBS

"Pipe Dreams" is on Facebook and Instagram.

Credits:

Directed/ Produced by Stacey Tenenbaum. Co-directed by Van Royko and Christina Clark. Editor: Howard Goldberg. Director of Photography: Pierre-Etienne Bordeleau. Original music by Tim Rideout. Sound design: Michel Gauvin.