“We have to constantly reinvent ourselves” – organist Thomas Ospital on what makes his instrument special and on the art of listening.
In dialogue: encounters with new instruments
“Every time I come to a new place to give a concert, I always feel a kind of restlessness and excitement,” notes Thomas Ospital. After all, he not only gets to know a new place or a new concert hall, each time he also finds himself with a new, still unfamiliar instrument.
He often only has a few hours to become acquainted with the organ and its distinctive character. “So we have to constantly reinvent ourselves, adapt our playing and listen very carefully to what the organ is telling us, not to fight with it, but rather to create a kind of dialogue,” explains the young Frenchman. The art lies in listening.
A contemporary organ
As part of the Hamburg International Music Festival, the musician born in Basque Country celebrated his début on the Elbphilharmonie organ on 8 May 2022: around 5,000 pipes, 15 by 15 metres in size and weighing about 25 tonnes – “Finally, being a 21st century organ,” as Thomas Ospital fondly recalls, he was able to extensively explore the modern details of the organ in the grand hall. “It has almost limitless possibilities for contemporary music and improvisation,” he explains.
Thomas Ospital learned his virtuoso technique at the prestigious Paris Conservatory from leading organists such as Olivier Latry and Thierry Escaich. He won the hearts of the Hamburg audience as soon as he began playing. In France, he has long been considered a star in his discipline – wherever the young organ maestro performs, he creates a torrent of enthusiasm. Just as he listens to every new organ anew, tapping the keys subtly and mindfully, he also allows his audience to hear every organ with new ears.