Massimo Nosetti will play the opening gala performance at this year’s Organix festival in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Massimo Nosetti

Musical journey brings acclaimed organist Massimo Nosetti to Toronto [w/ audio]

By  Allison Hunwicks, The Catholic Register
  • May 7, 2012

TORONTO - Massimo Nosetti has just flown from Italy to Nashville (a.k.a. Music City, U.S.A.), but not to visit the Grand Ole Opry or to practice his country twang to the whine of a slide guitar. Rather, Nosetti’s allegiance lies with “The King of Instruments,” the organ, and he is one of its undisputed champions.

Nosetti is a hard man to get a hold of. Because he’s on the first leg of a tour that will take him through the United States and to Toronto for the opening gala of the 2012 Organix music festival, we exchange a number of e-mails, a dozen missed phone calls, and finally, through a rather exasperated Nashville hotel employee, we connect. Most people would be somewhat wearied by both the travel and the exertions of performing, but Nosetti is charming, engaging and excited by his upcoming appearances.

“The good thing about this job is that you have the opportunity to go in so many different places around the world and  to have so many different experiences — they fill your soul and your brain,” Nosetti told The Catholic Register.

Nosetti’s musical pedigree is an impressive one. He studied organ, composition, choral music and direction, and polyphonic composition at the National Conservatories of Turin and Milan, Italy, and is currently the titular organist at the Basilica of Santa Rita in Turin. He is also the Professor of Organ and Composition at the National Conservatory in Cuneo, a member of the Diocesan Commission of Sacred Music and a consultant for the National Commission for Sacred Music. On top of all that, he is a distinguished performer and composer.

Listen to "Ego Sum Panis Vitae" by Massimo Nosetti

“The life of an organist is almost the same everywhere in the world: one usually plays on instruments never seen before and our programs are often composed only with trust in the organ specification, guessing how the organ will sound only from the few bits of information we receive about the instrument style, kind and size of the building and the acoustics in that venue. This is in itself a relatively risky adventure which no other musician is asked to do,” said Nosetti.

Nosetti’s Toronto appearance will be his second time at the festival — he closed the 2008 event and will be featured in this year’s opening gala performance on May 9. This particular appearance will include celebrated conductor Maestro Philip Sarabura and trumpet soloist Michael Barth as well as the full Organix Festival Orchestra at St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

“I keep wonderful memories of my last concert for Organix. We worked very hard with the brass players who performed with me and I keep this experience. There are a few places in the world where you perform in a venue or space that stay in your heart and your mind more than others,” said Nosetti, who also noted that his audiences in Toronto are always particularly appreciative of his work.

Aside from the stellar musicians who will accompany him, the Nosetti concert holds special significance: his performance of the Josef Rheinberger Concerto in G minor for organ and orchestra is dedicated to the memory of Bruce Kirkpatrick Hill, noted organist and colleague of Organix founder Gordon Mansell. While he did not have a personal connection with Hill, Nosetti says that a dedication lends a certain magnitude and emotional gravity to any performance. In addition to the Rheinberger, Nosetti’s program ranges from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Op. 64, to the Aria for trumpet and organ by Jean Rivier. 

“For the secular music, there is not a big difference (from sacred music) in my opinion. If you serve it as a good performer, you must go inside the music and find the right feeling to show the music to the audience. So that’s probably not a ‘religious’ feeling, but it is an esthetic feeling, and esthetic and beautiful things are always connected with something spiritual,” said Nosetti, whose vast repertoire moves through his work as a church organist to secular compositions.

Despite this constant transition between composer, internationally celebrated performer and church musician, Nosetti remains focused on the execution of his craft, and stresses the importance of a deeper involvement of musical expression in the Catholic liturgy. He also remains humble and sincerely appreciative of the experiences he has had through his musical journey.

“I can say one of the wonderful experiences I had was playing at Crystal Cathedral in California, because the space is so unique. The same could be said of Notre Dame in Paris or St. Paul in London. There are few venues that are so important and so unique that your mind will stay there for years,” said Nosetti.

After his few days in Nashville, Nosetti is headed to Indiana, and from there to Toronto, where he will perform on the organ at St. Paul’s for just the second time in his career. Despite the unfamiliarity of the instrument, the magnitude of the performance and the uncertainty of playing with many musicians, Nosetti is excited and ready to add Toronto to his list of memorable performances.

For tickets and information about the Organix 2012 festival see


Organix kicks off seventh season

by Allison Hunwicks

TORONTO - Now in it’s seventh year, the Organix music festival strives to bring audiences the best organ performances from around the world.

Starting on May 7 and running until June 6, the festival has recruited a number of internationally recognized organists to help Toronto audiences develop a greater appreciation of this distinguished instrument.

Founded by organist and composer Gordon Mansell and his colleague Bill O’Meara, Organix showcases such organ greats as Diane Bish and Massimo Nosetti to the popular showtune performance by Jelani Eddington. The festival also supports up and coming talent by presenting the Young Organist Competition that is run by the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

In addition to the performances, audiences can also develop a deeper appreciation of the instrument through a number of talks and lectures that Organix is also presenting.

“The organ is the most dynamic of all instruments and has the greatest amount of repertoire, much of it written by the giants of music composition. Mozart knew very well the capabilities of the organ and for this, he is the one credited for naming it ‘The King of Instruments,’ ” said Mansell, executive producer and artistic director, in his festival program.

Festival audiences can see performances at some of the finest organ venues in Toronto, with showcase locations ranging from St. Paul’s Anglican Church to Casa Loma.

“In terms of our performance priorities, careful programming of repertoire and performers is at the top of the list. We wanted to present solo and ensemble performances that would not normally be heard in a Toronto organ concert,” said Mansell.

“We wanted to establish a world-stage for emerging artists to perform alongside experienced concert performers.”

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