Featured Facts About “Game Changing” Organist Cameron Carpenter

February 17, 2022
Cameron Carpenter with a light behind his head

Cameron Carpenter is an American organist and composer, who began his practice of organ and piano at the age of five. Carpenter's performance brought his renowned skills to Northrop’s historic Aeolian-Skinner Opus 892 organ. Built between 1932 and 1936, Northrop's organ was recently restored and re-installed after years in storage during Northrop’s renovation. 

Cameron Carpenter sits in front of his traveling organ

A Musical Child. Cameron Carpenter was born in 1981 in Titusville, Pennsylvania. In 1993, he joined the American Boychoir School and performed with the school in the United States and Europe as a chorister, accompanist and keyboard soloist, and occasionally, a boy soprano soloist.

The Julliard School

School Days. Carpenter attended The Juilliard School where he received his Bachelor's Degree (2004) and his Master of Music in Organ Performance Degree (2006). One of his instructors was Paul Jacobs who made his Northrop debut last season.

"Revolutionary" album cover

Breaking Ground. Cameron Carpenter’s album Revolutionary granted him a GRAMMYTM nomination for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance—making him the first organist to be nominated for a solo album.

Aerial view of Berlin

Deutschland. In 2010, Carpenter moved from New York City to Berlin, Germany. The history of Berlin attracted him and he described the city as “a very reinventive place, by necessity” (The New York Times). Over the last few decades, Berlin has gained an influx of artists, and the city has become a popular location for classical music. Over the last few decades, Berlin has gained an influx of artists. The city has become a popular location for classical music, attracting musicians like Carpenter, who resided as an artist in residency for the Konzerthaus concert hall during his 2017-2018 season.

Carpenter plays the organ while a screen displays a closer shot of his profile

Speaking Out. Carpenter has been a featured speaker at many conferences including IdeaCity, The Entertainment Gathering, and TED. At TED2012, he wondered why the pipe organ, a machine of such “violence, vulgarity, obscenity, high drama, subtlety, and understatement” would have a sinecure in, of all places, church.

Overhead view of the International Touring Organ

Creating a New Way. The International Touring Organ (ITO) created by Cameron Carpenter is a full scale portable organ that can break apart into six pieces for easy transport. The Los Angeles Times called Carpenter, “one of the rare musicians who changes the game of his instrument.”  In 2014, the ITO Debut and Festival took place at the Lincoln Center—since then, he has toured with it in the United States, Russia, China, Australia, and throughout Europe.

playing during the pandemic

Pandemic Playing. During the coronavirus pandemic, Carpenter put his organ on the back of a truck in Berlin to play 32 concerts in four days for isolated audiences including senior citizens, sharing the motto, "All you need is Bach"  through his transcription of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.