Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter in Hong Kong in 2011
Background information
Birth name Taylor Cameron Carpenter
Born April 18, 1981 (1981-04-18) (age 35)
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Organ
Labels Sony Classical, Telarc, SeeMusicDVD

Taylor Cameron Carpenter[1] (born April 18, 1981)[2] is an American organist.[3][4]


Carpenter has bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School in New York,[5] having studied with Gerre Hancock, John Weaver, and Paul Jacobs. Though he is not religious,[6] Carpenter was from 2008 to 2009 the artist-in-residence at Middle Collegiate Church[6] 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.


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[6] 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. 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.[7]

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.[8][9]


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[10] 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.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

On March 18, 2014, Carpenter, arriving at Birmingham Airport for a performance at Birmingham Symphony Hall the following day, was refused permission to enter Britain by Border Force who misapplied immigration rules for visiting foreign artists, known as permitted paid engagement. 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 into the circumstances of his seven-hour detention and subsequent deportation. While it determined that he lacked a sponsors certificate and that no mistreatment occurred, 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."[18][19]

Personal life

In an interview with The Advocate, Carpenter was identified as gay. "While my first love was a boy and I've had numerous male lovers, I also love women," Carpenter said.[20] In a New York Times interview, it was reported, "Mr. Carpenter... describes his sexuality as 'radically inclusive'".[21]


  1. Vivien Schweitzer, "In Concert: Talent, Style and Sequins", New York Times (11 November 2009)
  2. Crocker (2011-04-20). "Cameron Carpenter the Amazing - Behind Blue Lines – Behind Blue Lines". Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  3. "The Maverick Organist Cameron Carpenter Cuts Loose at the River to River Festival" (July 12, 2006) The New York Times
  4. "Not Your Grandma's Organist", The Wall Street Journal
  5. "Alumni News: February 2009". Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Cameron Carpenter's (BM '04, MM '06, organ)
  6. 1 2 3 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.
  7. Smith, Steve (2009-11-23). "A Showman of the Organ Pulls Back the Curtain". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  8. 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.
  9. Swed, Mark (2014-08-26). "Review Joy, daring in Cameron Carpenter's 'If You Could Read My Mind'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-08-30.
  10. Boland, Michaela (2009-10-09). "Anxiously seeking virtual end to organ grind for Cameron Carpenter". The Australian.
  11. Druckenbrod, Andrew (2009-09-27). "Is this young man the 'savior' of the organ?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  12. Steward Noack (2010-03-10). "Organ virtuoso as rock star: Keyboard wunderkind Cameron Carpenter descends on Fairview Park church". Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  13. Mermelstein, David (2010-04-17). "Cameron Carpenter brings his organist showmanship to L.A.'s First Congregational Church on Sunday". The Los Angeles Times.
  14. "Culture Monster". The Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-17.
  15. "Culture Monster". The Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-19.
  16. Kosman, Joshua (2010-04-29). "Coming Up / What's New This Week". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  17. Ulrich, Allan (2010-08-10). "Music review: Organist Cameron Carpenter". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  18. Gallagher, Paul (2014-03-20). "Virtuoso American organist blasts UK border officials after being detained and deported just hours before a show". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-06-06. Having arrived from Berlin at 10.30pm 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 7am the following morning by armed police.
  19. Travis, Alan (2014-04-16). "Ministers refuse to apologise to US musician wrongly barred from Britain". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-06. Investigation finds no mistreatment of virtuoso organist Cameron Carpenter who was detained overnight and sent back to Berlin
  20. Hilferty, Robert (2 December 2008). "Pipe Dreams". The Advocate. pp. 45–47. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  21. "In Concert: Talent, Style and Sequins " ( Nov 11, 2009 ) New York Times

External links

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