Peering down at the audience is the complex and uniquely crafted pipe organ, with a hint of red light outlining the feet of silver piping-creating almost an optical illusion. As Hamill crafts his first note, the bamboo inside each pipping moves, allowing the organ to breath, and the lights peek through the slight spaces of the piping giving the appearance of gills. The first note was not the typical organ bellow one would conjure, but instead a crisp bell hum. 40 keys, numerous foot pedals, and various octave handles—mimic sounds ranging from a piercing shrill to a deep howl. The silence cut like a knife as Hamill paused between pages. I almost clapped but decided to save myself the embarrassment, shortly after that realizing that the song had not ended.
The next piece, “Variations on a Theme by Paganini” by George Ball was a well-orchestrated manic of a song. Hamill’s upper body firm and upright as he clenched onto the sides of the organ, then he began to stomp fiercely on the foot pedals, creating a most melodic jig. At first glance it almost looked as though Hamill where actually two midgets in a suit with the top half calm and composed and the bottom ramped.This, however, is not unlike Hamill, trying to outpace himself and others.
“We would play duets together,” said family friend Tia Adcock. “And we would always end in a race.”
The crowd roared as Hamill finished his fancy foot work, he than humbly stood facing the crowd and thanked the audience for attending and for his family, the Lamont School of Music faculty, and God for his success.
“Four years ago I did not dream of playing some of these pieces,” Hamill said. “And as many of you know, I’ll be attending Yale next year on a full ride scholarship playing the organ.”’
Symbolically, Hamill performed Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” the classic graduation march that every eager senior hears as they patiently await there diploma. From start to finish, the song painted a story as the organ belted out Hamill’s memories of DU .The story that Hamill expressed through music and then by speech was that of “learning to be joyful through suffering.”
“I had this 180-degree turn when I wound up here [DU]. It was a rough time,” Hamill disclosed to the audience. “I was just trying to adjust for a while. It was just a different kind of world”
Coming full circle and performing his last recital as a Pioneer was a surreal moment for Hamill. As myself, peers, faculty, and family hooked on to every note, there was much remanence and angst for the beautiful future that awaits the young organist.
“Elgar’s piece was my favorite,” said Hamill’s dad, Brad. “He waited four whole years to play that song. It brought a crocodile tear to my eye.”