Forrest Eimold ’18 Shares Stories Through Self-Composed Organ Pieces

Forrest Eimold ’18 pressed his hands and feet onto the keys of the organ while he nervously sang, “I’m gay,” to begin his self-composed piece titled “Second Announcement.” The room fell silent for a moment before erupting into applause.

Eimold performed this song when he was 15 while at Greenwood Music Camp, a summer program focused on chamber music. As a child, Eimold was inspired to begin playing the organ after hearing an organist perform at his music school. Although he first began his music career by playing the piano, the performance made him fall in love with the versatility of the organ. He began taking lessons shortly after.

“I knew that organs were famous — or even infamous — for playing very loudly, but I was blown away at how the organist at the school was able to play extremely quietly with both instruments. I had not realized how versatile the instrument was… I like the diversity inherent in the instrument. You have all these different sets of pipes which produce very different sounds, and, as an organist, I am able to select from a diverse set of pipes almost as a painter would select colors from a palette,” said Eimold.

Throughout his eight years of playing the organ, music has become an integral part of Eimold’s life. He uses music as a way to convey his emotions and thoughts to an audience in a way that is authentic to him. According to Eimold, he often attempts to translate experiences from his personal life into music, creating original compositions that convey a message or story to others.

Eimold said, “I realized that I was a musician as well as a player when I was able to integrate music with the rest of my life… [Since then], I’ve tried my best to make it my mission to integrate pieces of life with pieces of music. For instance, compositionally speaking, I have written around 15 composition settings about tweets from Donald Trump, someone I really don’t like,” said Eimold.

In addition to producing pieces based on his own life experiences, Eimold also takes inspiration from pieces written by renowned composers, emulating and building off of their styles of composing.

Eimold’s passion for music and the organ is evident even among his peers, and he often spends hours practicing, according to Sarah Langr ’18.

Langr, a friend of Eimold, said, “As a musician [in general], Forrest is absolutely amazing, and [music is] definitely his number one passion. But, as an organist, it’s kind of funny. He’ll come back to the dorm at 9:30 at night after practicing the organ for two hours, which is a lot of dedication, but I can tell he really enjoys it. The amount of passion and dedication he has for not only the organ, but music as a whole, is really inspiring.”

According to Eimold, one of his most memorable concerts took place last October in Cambridge, during which he performed pieces by British composer Michael Finnissy.

“[Finnissy’s] music is very challenging. It is also very moving. It is very intellectual, yet it also has a stupendous emotional effect on me and — I hope — the listeners [as well]. It was great to be able to learn [those pieces]. It also involved me playing weird combinations of instruments. For example, I had to present one of his pieces for organ, piano, and violin. Then I had to play a piece for organ, piano, electric keyboard, flute and violin. It was really cool to present weird instrumental combinations like that,” said Eimold.

Eimold hopes to share his passion for the organ and urges others to try the instrument. According to Eimold, being at Andover has allowed him to develop his skills as an organist and grow as a musician.

“I think because the organ is historically a religious instrument, it can be hard for some people to get into. I for one am not religious, and I think it’s been a great joy for me to realize that the fact that I’m not religious doesn’t preclude me from playing this wonderful instrument, which happens to be located in sacred spaces,” said Eimold. “At Andover, it’s really wonderful to present my organ playing in a variety of settings. I have also — speaking more generally about music — been exposed to different sorts of music that I otherwise would not have.