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‘Artist After Hours’ Talks to Andy Lang, Organist, Flutist and Gymnast

September 18, 2016
College of Arts & Sciences

Artist After Hours, a series from Carolina Arts and Sciences Magazine, features interviews with faculty, staff and students in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who pursue artistic avocations in areas not directly related to their day jobs or studies.

Andy Lang is the director of the Office of Arts and Sciences Information Services. 

When I was a kid, I fell in love with the organ by watching our parish organist play. I remember being in awe over his ability to operate this really complex instrument and being amazed by the variety of sounds he could produce by it. Were it not for his example and encouragement, I often wonder if I would have still been so serious about this instrument.

I started out on the piano when I was 7 and then transitioned to the organ around age 12. I continued to study the organ as an undergraduate and later went on to get a master’s degree in music in organ performance. I continue to build my repertoire and skills by occasionally traveling to the University of Michigan to study with one of the best teachers in the country. I just returned from the International Organ Academy in Haarlem, the Netherlands, where I studied 19th-century French repertoire from an expert in the field.

I have been very fortunate to play at some great venues, such as Washington National Cathedral and at various locations in Europe, including the Notre Dame Cathedral. For a week in the summer of 2015, I was in Toulouse, France, where I had unrestricted access to a really important historical instrument in the Basilica of St. Sernin.

About 15 years ago, I decided to take up the flute as a secondary instrument. While I like the sound and the repertoire of the flute on its own, the organ might be thought of as a collection of flutes, and so in some ways learning the flute helps me to get closer to the organ’s innate character.

I also have an interest in gymnastics. This is something I have wanted to do since I was a child. Eight years ago, I looked in the mirror and said, “I need to do this.” Since then I have gotten involved in the gymnastics club here at UNC, which is a co-ed group of folks at all skill levels. Besides practicing our skills, we compete with other schools. I do not compete myself, but because others keep encouraging me to do so, I just might someday. More recently, I began volunteering as a scorekeeper at varsity team meets, so come and look for me at our home meets in Carmichael Arena!

I view my interest in gymnastics as a kind of analog to why I took up the flute. Just as I was drawn to the flute by its beauty and nuance, I think gymnastics can be the same way when it is done really well. And, what I have learned is that when you attempt to do something that you admire, even if you never become any good at it, the level of your appreciation for someone who does it really well increases dramatically.

However, neither music nor gymnastics is part of my career. As director of the Office of Arts and Sciences Information Services (OASIS), I lead a group of about 25 information technology professionals in the College of Arts and Sciences who focus on direct client support, systems administration, web and application development, and instructional technology.

For me, life is all about balance. This is why I enjoy so many things outside technology. I think that if I were to do just technology, I would feel out of balance; similarly, if I were to do just music, I would not feel balanced either. Where the arts are concerned, being involved in the arts gives you an unfettered avenue for creativity that can only benefit all the other aspects of your life. It really does represent a good way to live.

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