How many toddlers, in a play world of plastic hammers, would rather have the real deal? Growing up in Turin, Corrado Cavalli asked his mother to buy him an electric saw — at age 2. It was a non-starter, of course, but it also presaged his career as a young handyman. Then came a fortuitous visit to a local church, which called Cavalli to use his hands in a different way.
“At age 13 a new organ was being installed in my church, so I wanted to observe and understand the physical installation,” recalls Cavalli, now 37. “I was interested in the organ as a complex machine and fell in love with the organ’s musical essence.”
Thus Cavalli started to train himself, enroll in music classes, and dedicate his life to the instrument at age 17. Ever since, the former construction trades hopeful has built a formidable foundation of a different kind, winning the 12th National Organ Competition “Città di Viterbo” (the Pinchi Prize); performing with the Italian National Symphonic Orchestra of RAI, the French Ensemble Orchestral des Alpes et de la Mer, the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino and many others; and recording CDs for the Effatà, Elledici and Elegia Records.
All of this and much more, has earned him the title “Maestro” and led him to his new assignment at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, after arriving in the U.S. in June.
On a previous U.S. visit, Cavalli played at the church and was surprised to find “the most interesting traditional church music program in America, and possibly the world, for a local parish church.”
When the church installed a world-class in 2013, they saw Cavallo as the perfect fit. The new post not only allows him to grace parishioners with his consummate skill, but to grow into a new level of musicianship as well.
“One of the greatest things in music is that it’s a never-ending study,” Cavalli says. “Over the last 10 years I’ve performed at numerous musical events and met many people who helped me to grow as a musician.” At one such event, he discovered church choral music when invited to play at the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin: “A new musical world just opened to me.”
The musician’s life has led Cavalli to many honors, which he treats with gratitude and humility. “I’ve had personal highlights such as prizes, concerts in very important venues and so on,” he says. “But the most important highlights happen every time people in the audience say that my music brought to them beautiful moments.”
That’s not to say it’s been smooth sailing from the outset. Starting any classical instrument at age 16 amounts to an uphill challenge. “When I decided to devote myself to organ music, my parents were initially skeptical,” he recalls. “They preferred that I become an engineer because of my love for physics and applied science.” Still, his diligence made an impression, “and seeing my devotion to music, my family supported me.”
That devotion amounts to much more than fingers on keys, or dazzling technique: It’s a form of prayer.
“I think that I’m doing something special and spiritual,” he notes. “Music is a precious gift our Lord gave us, and as church musician and concert artist, I enjoy sharing the masterpieces of great composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven — and the great emotions they can evoke in listeners. I try to do this as best as I can for the glory of God and for His people.”
Corrado Cavalli plays at St. John Cantius Church 825 N. Carpenter St. in Chicago. For more information call 312-243-7373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.