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Talent news: Shirtless organist gets major label deal

We are lost for words, stupefied by the brilliance of it all, our minds (as the man says below) utterly boggled.

press release:

cameron carpenter


Sony Classical is delighted to announce an exclusive long term and multi-album contract with organist Cameron Carpenter and the international release of his debut Sony album to be recorded on his new touring organ for 2014 release.

The album will combine a variety of Cameron’s famous transcriptions and settings of classical and modern music – including a cycle of “song treatments” ranging from the American Songbook to the present day – with a world premiere recording of Cameron Carpenter’s new work for organ, Music for an Imaginary Film (2013).

In addition to the audio album, the release will include a DVD examining Cameron’s work, his touring organ dream, and its path from vision to reality. (A formal announcement of the documentary and television partners will be made separately).

Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Classical, said: “Cameron is one of the very very few artists who could even contemplate a project like this. With his charisma, his mind-boggling virtuosity, the ability to create original music for himself and others but above all his vision for a new organ he will give the most majestic and all-encompassing of instruments a new place on the world’s stages. We are tremendously excited to be his partners as the touring organ begins its journey.”

At the same time, Cameron Carpenter, announces the Spring 2014 launch of his long-awaited International Touring Organ; his March 9, 2014 launch festival at Lincoln Center.

Currently under construction in the USA, the organ consists mainly of a modular five-keyboard console; a massively parallel processing system utilizing samples from several organs key to Cameron’s artistic development; and a proprietary “geographic” concert audio system scalable to the largest concert halls, medium alternative venues such as nightclubs, open-air use, and television. Built by digital organ pioneers Marshall & Ogletree LLC of Needham, MA, the touring organ will allow Cameron’s repertoire – already legendary for its diversity, from the complete works of Bach, Franck and Liszt to hundreds of transcriptions of orchestral, piano and vocal music, film music and jazz – to expand in ever more compelling directions.

“My vision is to keep the best of the classical organ – its emotional magnitude, its sonic range, its coloristic drama – but to liberate these from the pipe organ’s immobility, its moving parts, its cost, its institutionality. I want to the “American Classic” cathedral organ to combine with its counterpart, the cinema organ, in a single instrument. It has to have the cathedral organ’s expansiveness, and the Wurlitzer’s rapidity and audacity. It will be ethereal and rhythmless at times – and at other times more rhythmically intense than any pipe organ in the world.”

Cameron will officially open the organ on March 9, 2014 in a day-long festival at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Produced by Columbia Artists Music LLC, the festival includes two full-length concerts among other events. The introduction of the organ on one of the most important American stages is only to be expected from Cameron’s American management CAMI Music LLC, where Cameron’s manager Toby Tumarkin says “Cameron is one of the most daring artists with whom we’ve ever worked. Our Lincoln Center launch festival will be a perfect showcase not only of this historic organ but also the depth and breadth of Cameron’s artistry.” Following the launch, the organ will be flown to Europe in advance of an extensive May 2014 tour of major European concert halls, including the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, Vienna Konzerthaus, Cologne Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper, and many others.

Cameron Carpenter is represented by CAMI Music LLC (<>) for North America and Asia, and Konzertdirection Schmid (<>) for Europe, UK/Nordic/AU/NZ and Russia.

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  1. Hasbeen says:

    I can’t see why this provokes your outrage. The guy is a successful entertainer so why shouldn’t Sony exploit him. His use of classical music is not outrageous or offensive unlike the use of Beethoven on cell phones. Don’t be such a snob !

  2. David Boxwell says:

    CC: Like being “glitter-bombed”. Everyone involved just looks fooilsh.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    Just watched a few clips of him on YouTube. Incredible – and quite a visionary. Thanks for bringing this guy to my attention.

  4. SergioM says:

    I can understand your frustration, but classical record companies have been doing this for at least the last 40 years. Sign up some “hot” looking musician to the label in the hopes that they will attract younger listeners but it always fails. They never learn. (Katherine Jenkins anyone?)

    Which makes me wonder if Carpenter is really all that and a bag of chips then why do they have to sell him that way like he’s posing for a Gap ad?

    • He does this himself, “they don’t do it” ….he’s the P.T. Barnum of the organ and is building enthusiastic audiences everywhere.

  5. Rosalind says:

    Chuckling here as I imagine him turning up to play organ at a local congregation I know…!

  6. Elisabeth says:

    People with ‘alternative’ appearances are allowed to play classical music too, you know. It’s clear from his demeanour and appearance on YouTube clips going back some way that this is who he is. Why should he change? I’m way more interested in how he plays and his ideas about organ music than what he’s wearing. All credit to him for having the guts to be himself in the face of what can often be a stultifying classical music business. Might even bring in fresh new audiences.

    • John Roberts says:

      Indeed! And, Norman – I can’t help but notice that every time you mention this artist, your posts have something to do with his body, his nakedness, etc. It all reads like a crush on your part. And as far as I can see from the photo, he’s wearing a shirt.

  7. Mark Mortimer says:

    What next- I hope it doesn’t get his organ out!

  8. organ lover says:

    Now that really would make me buy his DVD and go to his concerts!

    Judging from his Proms appearance last year, and his extrovert behaviour afterwards in the bar, I bet he’d be UP for that if it sells him more recordings!

    Wish he was my church organist! I’d be his choirmaster any day!!

    Good on you Cam!

  9. I remember when Sony wanted Virgil Fox to record an all-Bach disco album!!

  10. While I do think that Carpenter is quite over-the-top with his outfits and all, I find him and his music, a huge breath of fresh air that is sorely needed especially in the pipe organ world. I first heard him in his recitals at the Proms last year, and they were by far the most interesting and exciting organ concerts I’d ever heard. This man is doing things with a pipe organ that nobody else is even coming close to doing, mainly through the colors he uses and the rate at which he changes them during a piece. And why shouldn’t a pipe organist not explore this aspect more? Most organists (myself included when I perform in church) hardly change the registration at all while playing a piece, yet Carpenter maybe does it 50 times or more during a single work. And he has developed the technique of playing on two manuals with one hand to a level no one else has even come close to matching. Of course, when you go forth and follow your vision and explore uncharted territory, you are going to have many people who are comfortable with how things are and will respond negatively, but I think what Carpenter is doing is terribly exciting and I’m really looking forward to hearing him perform and following his career in the years to come.

  11. PK Miller says:

    I only hope Cameron’s channeling his inner Virgil Fox doesn’t get in the way of his enormous talent. I am glad I heard him & met him BEFORE he became an international celebrity. He played a concert in our area 7-8 years ago. He was actually somewhat shy then. I am always leery when someone’s flamboyance overshadows his/her talent including Virgil Fox who was a phenomenal organist. He also played a recital here in Albany NY in the early 60s before the Rodgers Touring Organ & related shtick. Cameron is an enormously talented young man who doesn’t need all the shtick. i also would hate to see him crash & burn before he reaches his full potential.

    • John Roberts says:

      Yeah, you’re totally missing the point. Cameron has nothing to do with Virgil Fox, an artist mostly remembered by (older… sorry, you’re dating yourself) organists. And it was the Rodgers Touring Organ that allowed Virgil Fox to do everything that he did to become the most powerful and widely-known organist of his day, so I’d hardly call it a “shtick”.

      I’m also getting really sick of the “yes, I knew them when they were young and shy” thing. (Sure you did…) The “crash & burn” thing… it’s such a cliche.

  12. Rob van der Hilst says:

    What’s against a ‘classical entertainer’ in a 21st century-digitally form? It has if nothing or little to do with the classical organ(music)tradition as we know it. In other words: Mr.Cameron’s is an artist in his own right: So be it.

  13. Tim Walton says:

    He’s performing live at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall next March – should be interesting & I have a front row seat (Bought before I knew anything about him I might add)

  14. I’m only 35 years old. I never heard Virgil Fox play. I am still a huge fan, and proponent of the Fox Legacy, however. His relevance is much more significant than Mr. John Roberts realizes, especially when contemplating the impact Virgil had AND has on a talent such as Mr. Carpenter. He, himself, speaks to that directly, and frequently.

    • John Roberts says:

      He does? Where? When? Post a link, or at least give some credence. I’ve never heard Cameron say anything other than that Virgil was Virgil, and he is Cameron, which is the position I’d take.

  15. Quick! Someone is trying to make classical music appealing to a nontraditional audience! Somebody stop him!

  16. Roberto Gonzalez says:

    SONY Classical should be renamed, SONY PIG SLOP… The company is in thrall to the accountants who run and have destroyed the music business… Carpenter is a virtuoso, but he is akin to Virgil Fox like Lady Gaga is akin to Madonna… BOTH are reduxes… there is also Harry Connick, Jr, who goes around doing FAKE SINATRA… UGH

    SONY had started more recording and video formats and abandoned them, just like they expect classical discs to sell like Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, which is a complete bore to me, but I NEVER bought a copy…

    So, the recording and music performance business continues to roll over in its grave… being killed by PIGS and accountants… and managers…

    We have TWO vapid “FESTIVALS” in Napa Valley where I live, and one is Festival del Sole, and the other is BOTTLE ROCK… Both are completely ignored by regular folk here in the Valley.

    Only pretentious fools show up, and they have to give away most of the tickets to even half-fill the concert hall…

    So, I wonder if Carpenter could really play so fast on an organ that really BREATHES????

    • John Roberts says:

      Yeah, you give yourself away with that last line: YOU’RE AN ORGANIST. Called it.

  17. The new Liberace?

  18. itrinkkeinwein says:

    Heard him play Saint-Saëns’ 3rd Symphony with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester in Berlin, 21 months ago. The man can play.

    And it should not be overlooked that Liberace played Liszt’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

  19. Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s a logical progression from Carlo Curley (remember him?) who took his organ into the concert hall, turned the console around so the audience could see what he was doing – oh, stop sniggering at the back – and generated an awareness of the instrument beyond its hitherto fusty, isolated organ loft image. If this bloke can really play, then more power to his elbow. Right, Carter Minor, outside.

  20. Stephen Phillips says:

    Do not forget, even Mozart was considered crass and provocative by the establishment of the day. Nobody ‘owns’ music (other than copyright and possession of particular instruments etc.) nor is individual critical assessment anything more than… just that. Of course there are objective qualities to performance (precision, etc.) and Cameron Carpenter is at the very top level there. Predicting artistic careers is about as reliable as betting on horses (and to my mind, about as boring). So I will indulge in no prediction. I will, however: stand back, admire, ponder and puzzle, by all means be inspired, all the while with my hat off to someone DOING SOMETHING with his passion and protean talents. Come join me – you’ll feel great afterwards, and there’s plenty of room…

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