Classically Trained: Making music to a silent film

The university where he teaches once dubbed him the "man who found the rock in Bach."

Organist Christoph Bull — the acclaimed UCLA music professor who says he's a fan of "organ music, rock music and rocking organ music" — will be performing Sunday afternoon at Concordia University in Irvine.

The 4 p.m. concert, titled "Music and Movies: Improvisation and Artistry of Christoph Bull," will have the German native playing his own improvised score to Charlie Chaplin's 1917 silent film, "The Immigrant." There will also be a 3:30 p.m. pre-concert lecture.

Also scheduled for the program are selections from Bull's CD, "First & Grand," an innovative and wonderful recording of the Walt Disney Concert Hall's organ. I've had the pleasure of hearing Bull's CD, and I must admit that I couldn't stop listening to it for a week — it was that good!

O.C. audiences might remember Bull from some of his previous local appearances, namely the Pacific Symphony's "2011: A Space Odyssey" series last October — where we felt the organ's power in "Also sprach Zarathustra" — and its "Pedals and Pipes" organ series in 2010.

Concordia University is at 1530 Concordia West, Irvine. For more information, call (949) 214-3418 or email


The annual Laguna Beach Music Festival, now in its tenth year, will be from Feb. 6 to 12 and have its usual mini-concerts, discussions, workshops, open rehearsals and events.

This year, violinist Joshua Bell serves as the guest artistic director. The personal favorite work of mine by the Grammy Award-winner is his performance of composer John Corigliano's Oscar-winning score for the "The Red Violin," the 1998 film about a legendary Italian-made violin and its owners throughout three centuries.

The festival is a project of both Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Festival organizers are lauding the intimacy of its venues, which include the Laguna Playhouse and Hotel Laguna.

In addition to Bell — who will be having an "intimate salon concert" at a private home at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 — the festival also showcases Edgar Meyer, master of the double bass, and the Calder Quartet.

The Calder Quartet was at the first Laguna Beach Music Festival in 2003, though at the time the players were dubbed as "emerging artists." They will be returning the veterans of a Juilliard residency, commissions and other projects. The quartet performs with Bell at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road.

For a complete list of festival events and to buy tickets, visit or call (949) 715-9713.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at

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