Cameron Carpenter

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Cameron Carpenter
Cameron Carpenter.jpg
Cameron Carpenter in Hong Kong (2011)
Background information
Birth name Taylor Cameron Carpenter
Born April 18, 1981 (1981-04-18) (age 33)
Occupations Organist
Instruments Organ
Labels Telarc

Cameron Carpenter (born April 18, 1981[1] as Taylor Cameron Carpenter[2]) is an American organist known for his virtuosity,[3] showmanship, technique and arrangements for the organ.[4][5]


Carpenter has bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School in New York,[6] having studied with Gerre Hancock, John Weaver, and Paul Jacobs. Though he is not religious,[7] Carpenter was from 2008 to 2009 the artist-in-residence at Middle Collegiate Church[7] in New York's East Village, where he played a four-manual virtual pipe organ that he designed for the broad ranging music of that church. Carpenter ended his residency in July 2009.

A champion of virtual pipe organs, Carpenter has been referred to as "extraordinary,"[8] "the most controversial organist in the world,"[9] and "meshing virtuosity with musical intelligence,"[3] while also attracting criticism.

On March 18, 2014, Carpenter was refused permission to enter Britain at Birmingham Airport and sent back to Berlin. He had a premiere in Birmingham on March 19. The deportation appears to have arisen from a misreading of immigration rules by border officials at Birmingham Airport. "Or possibly because they didn't like the way he dressed. Or whatever."[10]


Early in 2008, Telarc signed Carpenter to an exclusive five-album recording contract. His Telarc debut album, Revolutionary, was recorded as a CD and DVD at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City[7] and released September 23, 2008. The title comes from Carpenter's transcription of Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude." The album made Carpenter the first organist ever to receive a Grammy nomination in the category Best Solo Instrumental Performance (without orchestra) for a solo album. His first commercial album was a 2006 CD/DVD, Pictures at an Exhibition, on SeeMusicDVD. It includes his arrangement of the programmatic piano work by Modest Mussorgsky, and his own improvisatory "New York City Sessions." Visuals for the Mussorgsky were created by Marshall Yaeger and his Kaleidoplex. The recording was made at Trinity Church, New York.

An "early" recording, made in 2005 and financed by the Allen Organ Company, was titled notes from the underground. This recording was a highly unusual project for Allen, as Carpenter was given near-complete artistic control of the album, selection of the program, and even oversight of graphic design (featuring location shots of Carpenter at famous New York City graffiti sites). This album was not reissued by Allen and is now a rarity.

On June 1, 2010, Telarc issued in the U.S. Carpenter's newest recording project, a two-disc set with a CD carrying a J.S. Bach recital that had been recorded live at a recital he played in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City,[11] and a DVD containing a full studio recital program with narration by Carpenter, as well as video clips from other live recital programs.


Carpenter has been both criticized by some and praised by others for his unorthodox interpretations of the standard organ repertoire. Registrations rarely follow those suggested by the composer, and Carpenter often takes dramatic liberties in articulation. Carpenter is also noted for his advocacy of the digital organ, particularly development of a touring virtual pipe organ, citing factors[12] such as the obstacles the pipe organ imposes on the ability of a traveling performer to enjoy an ongoing relationship with a single instrument in the same manner as many other instrumentalists. Despite this, he frequently performs on pipe organs, often garnering major exposure for the instrument.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Personal life[edit]

In an interview with The Advocate, Carpenter was identified as "queer" — a term often used to encompass one or more non-heterosexual orientations. "While my first love was a boy and I've had numerous male lovers, I also love women,” Carpenter said.[24] In a Sunday, November 15, 2009 Arts & Leisure full-page interview with The New York Times ("In Concert: Talent, Style and Sequins" by Vivien Schweitzer), Carpenter "describes his sexuality as 'radically inclusive.'"


  1. ^ Crocker (2011-04-20). "Cameron Carpenter the Amazing - Behind Blue Lines – Behind Blue Lines". Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  2. ^ Vivien Schweitzer, In Concert: Talent, Style and Sequins, New York Times, 11 November 2009
  3. ^ a b Schweitzer, Vivien (2009-11-15). "In Concert: Talent, Style and Sequins". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  4. ^ The Maverick Organist Cameron Carpenter Cuts Loose at the River to River Festival, The New York Times
  5. ^ Not Your Grandma's Organist, the Wall Street Journal
  6. ^ "Alumni News: February 2009". Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. "Cameron Carpenter's (BM '04, MM '06, organ)" 
  7. ^ a b c Alison, Stewart (2008-10-26). "Cameron Carpenter's Organ Revolution". NPR Weekend Edition Sunday (NPR). Archived from the original on 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-11-20. "Carpenter told us he is on a bit of a mission to transform the way people think about organists and their instruments." 
  8. ^ Theatre Organ, Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society
  9. ^ Cantrell, Scott. "Improv on the Meyerson's Fisk organ? Cameron Carpenter dared it and shined", The Dallas Morning News, 2008-10-25. Retrieved on 2008-11-20.
  10. ^ Norman Lebrecht, Exclusive: Cameron Carpenter is deported from Britain, Slipped Disc Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds, Arts Journal, 18 March 2014
  11. ^ Smith, Steve (2009-11-23). "A Showman of the Organ Pulls Back the Curtain". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  12. ^ Boland, Michaela (2009-10-09). "Anxiously seeking virtual end to organ grind for Cameron Carpenter". The Australian. 
  13. ^ Druckenbrod, Andrew (2009-09-27). "Is this young man the 'savior' of the organ?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  14. ^ Steward Noack (2010-03-10). "Organ virtuoso as rock star: Keyboard wunderkind Cameron Carpenter descends on Fairview Park church". Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ "Clip Syndicate Video: Homepage Channel". 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  17. ^ Mermelstein, David (2010-04-17). "Cameron Carpenter brings his organist showmanship to L.A.'s First Congregational Church on Sunday". The Los Angeles Times. 
  18. ^ "Culture Monster". The Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-17. 
  19. ^ "Culture Monster". The Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-19. 
  20. ^ Kosman, Joshua (2010-04-29). "Coming Up / What's New This Week". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  21. ^ Ulrich, Allan (2010-08-10). "Music review: Organist Cameron Carpenter". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ Giovetti, Olivia (2010-05-31). "Cameron Carpenter | Classical and opera | reviews, guides, things to do, film - Time Out New York". Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  24. ^ Hilferty, Robert (2 December 2008). "Pipe Dreams". The Advocate. pp. 45–47. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 

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