Cameron Carpenter

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Cameron Carpenter
Cameron Carpenter in Hong Kong in 2011
Cameron Carpenter in Hong Kong in 2011
Background information
Birth nameTaylor Cameron Carpenter
Born (1981-04-18) 18 April 1981 (age 42)

Taylor Cameron Carpenter[1] (born 18 April 1981)[2] is an American organist and composer.[3][4] In 2009, he became the first organist to ever be nominated for a Grammy Award for his solo album, Revolutionary.[5]


Taylor Cameron Carpenter was born in the state of Pennsylvania, United States.

He attended high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and 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 electronic organ that he designed for the broad-ranging music of that church. Carpenter ended his residency in July 2009.


In early 2008, the Telarc record label 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 and released September 23, 2008.[7] 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.[citation needed]

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.[8]

On June 1, 2010, Telarc issued in the U.S. 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.[9]

On August 26, 2014, Sony issued the DVD If You Could Read My Mind, containing performances and commentary by Carpenter recorded on an electronic touring organ.[10][11]


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 electronic 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]

He designed and commissioned the International Touring Organ (ITO), Opus 8 of the Marshall and Ogletree company, a one-of-a-kind, customized, “full-scale portable organ sonically tailorable to any acoustic environment”, which took ten years and cost $2 million to build.[20][21] Since its premiere in March 2014,[22] he no longer has to learn a new instrument for every performance which he characterized as maddening,[23] and he now tours worldwide to venues that have never had an organ.[21][24] The story of the ITO is the subject of the 2015 documentary "The Sound of My Life".[25]

On March 18, 2014, Carpenter, arriving at Birmingham Airport for a performance at Birmingham Symphony Hall the following day, was refused permission to enter the United Kingdom by the British Border Force which applied immigration rules for visiting foreign artists. He returned to Britain the following day, and after a short detention at the airport, performed a reduced version of his planned recital. The House of Lords initiated an inquiry with the Home Office which determined that Carpenter lacked the required sponsor's certificate and that no mistreatment occurred, though it conceded that "Although the guidelines and policies were correctly followed by officers, Border Force accepts that more could have been done to assist Mr Carpenter."[26][27]

Personal life[edit]

Carpenter has been identified as bisexual.[28] In a New York Times interview, it was reported, "Mr. Carpenter... describes his sexuality as 'radically inclusive'".[1]


  1. ^ a b Schweitzer, Vivien (November 11, 2009). "In Concert: Talent, Style and Sequins". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Arita, Eriko (22 February 2013). "'Grotesque' organist hits town". Japan Times. Archived from the original on 30 December 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  3. ^ Holland, Bernard (July 12, 2006). "The Maverick Organist Cameron Carpenter Cuts Loose at the River to River Festival". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 15, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  4. ^ Scherer, Barrymore Laurence (September 25, 2008). "Not Your Grandma's Organist". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on December 30, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  5. ^ Anderson, Lessley (May 22, 2014). "Tank tops, high heels, and a portable pipe organ". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2019-06-20. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  6. ^ "Alumni News". Juilliard. February 2009. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011. Cameron Carpenter's (BM '04, MM '06, organ)
  7. ^ a b c Alison, Stewart (October 26, 2008). "Cameron Carpenter's Organ Revolution". NPR. Weekend Edition Sunday. Archived from the original on 2008-10-31. Retrieved November 20, 2008. Carpenter told us he is on a bit of a mission to transform the way people think about organists and their instruments.
  8. ^ "Cameron Carpenter: Notes from the Underground". Allen Organ. Archived from the original on 2006-12-17.
  9. ^ Smith, Steve (November 23, 2009). "A Showman of the Organ Pulls Back the Curtain". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  10. ^ Huizenga, Tom (2014-08-16). "First Listen: Cameron Carpenter, 'If You Could Read My Mind'". Minnesota Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2014-08-30. Retrieved 2014-08-30.
  11. ^ Swed, Mark (2014-08-26). "Review Joy, daring in Cameron Carpenter's 'If You Could Read My Mind'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2014-08-29. Retrieved 2014-08-30.
  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. Archived from the original on 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  14. ^ Noack, Steward (March 10, 2010). "Organ virtuoso as rock star: Keyboard wunderkind Cameron Carpenter descends on Fairview Park church". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Archived from the original on 2014-03-22. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  15. ^ Mermelstein, David (2010-04-17). "Cameron Carpenter brings his organist showmanship to L.A.'s First Congregational Church on Sunday". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  16. ^ "Culture Monster". Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-17. Archived from the original on 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  17. ^ "Culture Monster". Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-19. Archived from the original on 2010-04-23. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  18. ^ Kosman, Joshua (2010-04-29). "Coming Up/ What's New This Week". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  19. ^ Ulrich, Allan (2010-08-10). "Music review: Organist Cameron Carpenter". San Francisco Chronicle.
  20. ^ Aceves, Rusty (December 28, 2015). "Five Things You Should Know About The International Touring Organ". On the Corner. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Wise, Cat (2019-06-19). "This musician is taking the sounds of the pipe organ on the road". PBS NewsHour. Archived from the original on 2019-06-20. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  22. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (March 10, 2014). "Organist Introduces New Partner in Concert". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2019-06-20. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  23. ^ DiGuglielmo, Joey (April 7, 2013). "Visiting Virtuoso". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  24. ^ Hamad, Michael. "Pop-Star Organist Cameron Carpenter Shifts The Focus From The Instrument To Musicianship". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on May 25, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "Opus 8 - International Touring Organ". Marshall & Ogletree. Archived from the original on 2019-06-20. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  26. ^ Gallagher, Paul (2014-03-20). "Virtuoso American organist blasts UK border officials after being detained and deported just hours before a show". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-06. Having arrived from Berlin at 10:30 pm on Monday for the latest leg of a 31-date global tour, Mr Carpenter says he was escorted onto the next flight back to Germany at 7 am ....
  27. ^ Travis, Alan (2014-04-16). "Ministers refuse to apologise to US musician wrongly barred from Britain". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2014-06-06. Investigation finds no mistreatment of virtuoso ... who was detained overnight and sent back to Berlin.
  28. ^ Knowles, Claudia (30 October 2015). "The American organist (and former drag queen) in tune with Berlin". Financial Times. London. Archived from the original on 21 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cameron Carpenter at Wikimedia Commons