For the extraordinary organist Cameron Carpenter a long-anticipated dream came true in 2014: the completion of his own instrument. The International Touring Organ (ITO) has since embarked on extensive tours to important venues throughout the world. This tailor-made instrument based on Carpenter’s own plans allows him to perform at almost any location worldwide. Taken for granted by most instrumentalists, this is a revolution for Cameron Carpenter being an organist. Accompanying the presentation of the ITO Carpenters latest recording If You Could Read My Mind appeared on Sony Classical. Highlights in the 2015/16 season include a world premiere of his first organ concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honneck, concerts with the Orchestre National du Capitol de Toulouse and Tughan Sokhiev, the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Alexander Shelly as well as on tour with the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien and Cornelius Meister. In the summer of 2015 Cameron will give important debuts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Stéphane Denève as well as Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. In recital he will present the ITO for the first time on tour to Australia. Further recital appearances include Austria, Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Cameron Carpenter’s special relationship to the Philharmonie in Berlin is marked by the opening recital of the organ series which Cameron plays for the 4th time in a row. 2014 Cameron Carpenter successfully premiered At the Royal Majestic, Terry Riley’s new organ concerto written for Cameron Carpenter and performed with LA Philharmonic and John Adams. Working regularly with important artists of other genres he collaborated with Peter Sellars transcribing and playing Shostakovich’s Michaelangelo Sonnets for a project at the Manchester International Festival 2013. Born in 1981 in Pennsylvania, USA, Carpenter performed J.S. Bach Well Tempered-Clavier for the first time when he was eleven and became a member of the American Boy choir School in 1992. Besides his mentor Beth Etter, John Bertalot and James Litton taught him. At the North Carolina School of Arts he studied composition and organ with John E. Mitchener. Carpenter transcribed more than 100 works for organ, amongst others Mahler’s Symphony No 5. He composed his first own works during his studies at Juilliard School in New York, 2000-2006 where, at the same time he also had piano lessons with Miles Fusco. In 2011 his concerto for organ and orchestra The Scandal was premiered by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen at the Philharmonie Cologne. In 2012 he received the Leonard Bernstein Award of the SchleswigHolstein-Musik Festival. Carpenter was the first organist ever to receive a Grammy nomination for his album Revolutionary (2008) which he recorded for Telarc who have also released his Bach recording Cameron Live! (2010). Carpenter’s compositions are published exclusively by Edition Peters.
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini & Poulenc: Organ ConcertoArtists Cameron Carpenter
Release Date: 03/15/2019
Sony Classical announces the release of the new album by exceptional American organist Cameron Carpenter, with both his first orchestral recording and his first live-concert recording. This release features an original version of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, recorded live at Berlin’s Konzerthaus, paired together with Poulenc’s popular Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani. This world-premiere version of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody demonstrates Carpenter’s extensive musical skills: he arranged the original piano part for organ himself. The album programme is completed with Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 1, recorded live as the concert encore. Carpenter is joined by the Konzerthausorchester Berlin under renowned conductor Christoph Eschenbach, and all works were performed on his innovative International Touring Organ.
The album represents the culmination of Carpenter’s 2018 season as Artist-in-Residence at the Konzerthaus Berlin and is also a testament to his enduring friendship with Maestro Eschenbach, whom he first encountered whilst a student at the Juilliard School.
Carpenter explains the stimulus behind arranging Rachmaninoff’s piece: “I love and want to play this work. The question is then ‘How do I get my hands on this music, by any means necessary?’ As with many, even most, non-organ works, this requires the creation of a detailed transcription founded on study of the original.” The orchestral part remains unchanged, and what Carpenter performs here is “a recomposition for organ – guided by the original – of the piano part … it is a way of honouring a great work.”
Rachmaninoff’s arranged work is paired here with a key organ work originating from the same year (1934) – namely, Poulenc’s Organ Concerto. This recorded version remains faithful to Poulenc’s original score, but Carpenter explores his own ideas for the registrations rather than using the original published indications. Hence the Concerto may still sound new to those already familiar with the work. “Poulenc never composed for the organ before the Concerto, and his writing for it is made all the more interesting thereby. In this Concerto are cynicism, despair, the dance and the street, yet with religious ‘devotion’ and death always looming behind. Think of Fellini, or Cocteau… The exotic combination of ideas in the composition should be reflected in the combinations of the organ.”
The International Touring Organ was built to Carpenter’s own specifications in collaboration with American digital organ pioneers Marshall & Ogletree, and launched in 2014. Like Carpenter himself, it represents a seismic shift in the organ world. This custom-built instrument dispenses with traditional pipes and instead uses digitised sounds from instruments from across the globe, crucially allowing the exceptional sound definition required for the rapid virtuosic finger- and footwork that these pieces demand. “This organ is able to provide unprecedented clarity and speed of articulation," says Carpenter. “This is a clarity often missing from many of the ‘eclectic’ pipe organs of today. What is needed is an organ that’s both lushly hyper-expressive and infinitely subtle in shading and blending, yet unmistakably clear in counterpoint.”
Just as his instrument is redefining the organ world, so too is Carpenter. As the public broadcaster Kulturradio Berlin noted in their review of the live concert, “Carpenter is a breathtaking virtuoso … He can do everything.”