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Cameron Carpenter (Composer, Organ)

Born: 1981 - Pennsylvania, USA

The American composer and organist, Cameron Carpenter, performed as a keyboard prodigy, J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier at age 11, before joining the American Boychoir School in 1992 as a boy soprano. His first forays into composition began during this time with early choral and string works, including a 1993 cantata for voices and orchestra on passages from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Besides his principal mentor, Dr. Beth Etter, his early teachers included Dr. John Bertalot and Dr. James Litton. During his four years of high school studies at The North Carolina School of the Arts, he studied the organ with Dr. John E. Mitchener; made his first studies in orchestration and orchestral composition; and transcribed for the organ more than 100 major works, including Gustav Mahler's complete Symphony No. 5 and Robert Schumann's Novelletten, Op. 21. Carpenter continued composing after moving to New York City in 2000 to attend The Juilliard School. While at the Juilliard he composed art songs; the symphonic poem Child of Baghdad (2003) for orchestra, chorus, and Ondes Martenot; his first substantial works for solo organ; and numerous organ arrangements of piano works by Frédéric Chopin, Leopold Godowsky, Percy Grainger, Charles Ives, Franz Liszt, Medtner, Sergei Rachmaninov, Robert Schumann, and others. His teachers at Juilliard were Dr. Gerre Hancock, Dr. John Weaver, and Paul Jacobs; he simultaneously studied with the New York-based piano coach Miles Fusco, with whom he continues to work. Cameron received a Master's Degree from The Juilliard School in New York in 2006.

The same year (2006), Cameron Carpenter began his worldwide organ concert tours, giving numerous debuts at venues including Royal Albert Hall, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Melbourne Town Hall, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, Davies Hall in San Francisco, and many others. His first album for Telarc, the Grammy-nominated “Revolutionary” (2008), was followed in 2010 by the critically acclaimed full length DVD and CD “Cameron Live!” Edition Peters became his publisher in 2010, beginning the ongoing release of his original works with Aria, Op. 1 (2010). His first major work for organ and orchestra, The Scandal, Op. 3, was commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie (KölnMusic GmbH) and was premiered on New Year’s Day 2011 by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under the direction of Alexander Shelley. Of Carpenter the composer, Die Welt’s Manuel Brug wrote: “Carpenter… is proving himself to be a clever eclecticist, who understands to entertain with much finesse, and admits with a wink that he is ‘annoyed by intellectual music’.

A virtuoso composer-performer unique among keyboardists, Cameron Carpenter takes an approach to the organ that is smashing the stereotypes of organists and organ music while generating a level of acclaim, exposure, and controversy unprecedented for an organist. His repertoire - from the complete works of J.S. Bach and César Franck, to his hundreds of transcriptions of non-organ works, his original compositions, and his collaborations with jazz and pop artists - is perhaps the largest and most diverse of any organist. He is the first organist ever nominated for a Grammy for a solo album.

Cameron Carpenter is one of the only performing artists to make a practice of meeting his audience in person before his performances - often spending over an hour before each concert shaking hands and signing autographs on the floor of a concert venue. With combined millions of hits on YouTube and numerous television, radio, and press features including CBS Sunday Morning, BBC Radio 3, ARD, ZDF, NDR Kultur, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and many others, he is the world’s most visible organist.

Cameron Carpenter is “technically the most accomplished organist I have ever witnessed… And most important of all, the most musical. … Carpenter means to be one of the rare musicians who changes the game of his instrument… he is a smasher of cultural and classical music taboos.” - Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

Source: Cameron Carpenter Website; Los Angeles Philharmonic Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2011)

Cameron Carpenter: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Cameron Carpenter (Official Website)

Cameron Carpenter (LA Phil)



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