Organist Josiah Hamill shines at senior recital

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Pipe organ at Hamilton Hall. [Photo taken by Angel Gonzalez]

In the dimly lit Hamilton Family Recital Hall, organist Josiah Hamill captivated the room with each note and key as he prepared for his final hoorah at his senior recital for the University of Denver on May 5. The fifty or so friends and family in the room settled in their seats as Hamill played his first song, “Trio Sonato No. 6 in G Major” by Johann Bach.

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.

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View from the musicians chair of the organ. [Photo taken by Angel Gonzalez]

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’sPomp 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 .

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Josiah Hamill, senior at the University of Denver majoring in organ and violin. [Photo taken by Angel Gonzalez] “Everything I want to do, I want to do it for God’s glory. You know how it goes with everything in the world—the turmoil, the strife, stress, even academic stress. Everything happens, even to me. I’ve always been able to find peace and purpose, and I think playing for His glory, it keeps me upright and helps me deal with stress. “

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.”

 

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3 thoughts on “Organist Josiah Hamill shines at senior recital

  1. Hey Angel,

    It’s hard not to compare stories when we wrote about the same event, but I really enjoyed this! I like how you take the reader through the viewing process, showing (not telling) how light seeped out between the organ’s pipes, how the first sound was an unexpected bell hum, how you awkwardly almost clapped mid-song. I like how you called his foot-solo song a “melodic jig” and how you said he looked like two midgets with his bottom half racing around and his top half staying completely still. As for areas of potential improvement, I think you could have provided more depth to the background story of Tia and Josiah playing together as kids — turning it into a full anecdote.with his bottom half racing around and his top half staying completely still. As for areas of potential improvement, I think you could have provided more depth to the background story of Tia and Josiah playing together as kids — turning it into a full anecdote. Another thing (not a big deal at all) would be to select “open in new tab” when creating the hyperlinks. It’s easier for the reader to consume the story and interact with the links this way — they don’t get redirected elsewhere and have to work their way back. Beyond that, good job! and nice photos!

    Like

  2. Edit to above comment (copy and pasting error) :

    Tia and Josiah playing together as kids — turning it into a full anecdote. As for areas of potential improvement,

    Like

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