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Camero Carpenter Featuring the International Touring Organ


THE UNIVERSE Cameron Carpenter probably won’t fulfill your typical expectations about organists; he styles his hair in a mohawk and the music he plays is far from the traditional heavenly sounds coming out of the grand church instruments.

Unlike most people, Carpenter’s introduction to the organ was not in a church but on the pages of an encyclopedia, where the then four- year-old was fascinated by all of the mechanics.

“There was a certain mystique about it,” he said.

And then there’s the size – the instrument exists outside of scale, Carpenter said. And, naturally, being a child, the effect of its size was even more impressive.

It was only later that he discovered that the organ had by then become associated with religion, particularly Christianity, something he now finds as somewhat oxymoronic; the organ, and the engineering that goes into its creation is the embodiment of science and reason.

The organ actually predates Christianity by a few millennia and has its roots in ancient Greece as an instrument of spectacle, entertainment and war.

He did, though, study the instrument and the classical music associated with it. The gifted Juilliard grad was actually the first organist ever nominated for a GRAMMY Award for a solo album.

Carpenter even plays on an organ of his own custom design - the International Touring Organ, built by Marshall & Ogletree. This digital organ is designed not to imitate the classical pipe organ but to be an instrument in its own right.

The classical organ is a product of science and discovery. Carpenter said his instrument continues that tradition of innovation rather than simply replicating the machines of the 18th century.

At risk of sounding like a high school drama, Carpenter says the organ is an obscure instrument, eccentric and solitary. It’s not a collaborator.

“On its own, it’s a powerful instrument – an obvious choice of churches as the voice of God. But pair it with just one instrument or one soprano voice, and its power diminishes,” he said.

“It will immediately recede into the background,” he said.

With its range, its incredibly wide spectrum, the organ is a universe in itself, Carpenter said, noting it’s easy to see why film composer Hans Zimmer, whom he considers a personal friend, employed the instrument to such great effect in the movie Interstellar, where it was, in effect, the voice of the universe.

“He couldn’t have made a better choice,” he said.

His repertoire is perhaps the largest and most diverse of any organist. It ranges from the complete works of J. S. Bach and César Franck, to hundreds of transcriptions of non- organ works, original compositions and collaborations with jazz and pop artists. But Carpenter resists outlining the music he plans to play, saying music is a matter of live experience, not expectation. While listing composers’ names will give classical music fans a clear idea of what’s in store, it won’t mean a lot for the uninitiated, he said. Those are the people who are the hardest to please but also the most interesting to please. They’re also more numerous.

What the audience can expect, he said, is a highly engaging show with a lot of contrasting pieces.”

- Mike Zettell

Cameron Carpenter Partridge Hall MEMBERS: $46.75 REGULAR: $55 COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: $25 HIGH SCHOOL: $5

7:30PM Wed 30 Mar


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