Tuesday evening brought the much-anticipated return of Cameron Carpenter to the PAC; here again to perfect his craft on the one-of-a-kind Forbes Pipe Organ. Though some may be hesitant to attend an “organ recital,” conjuring dated memories of church music (or perhaps even Forte the Pipe Organ in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas), Carpenter dashes all preconceived notions, elevating the organ among new audiences.
Carpenter is a true artist, adding his own personal touch to every composition he plays, even simply through his intense physicality and dedication to the instrument. Playing solely from memory, the passionate devotion he has for his craft is incredibly apparent and downright contagious. Carpenter presents the audience with a diverse sampling of music, ranging from an obscure Ugandan composition to Mozart’s non-organ works and even to cinematic scores, providing the audience with a crash-course in organ music.
On choosing which non-organ works to transcribe and perform on the organ, Carpenter says, “I simply have to love it.” Playing the organ, more than any other instrument, is a labor of love as the musician “struggles with the instrument” and risks everything to achieve a certain sound. Aside from loving the music he plays, Carpenter has unique insight into understanding the love with which they were composed. Just before playing a work by the illustrious Bach, Carpenter shares that this particular piece was composed by Bach to teach his son to play the organ, remarking that he himself is emotionally inspired by it.
Carpenter is a master musician, as demonstrated by his own original compositions and development of the International Touring Organ, an innovative new instrument that will revolutionize the organ-playing and –making industries. His intimate familiarity with such a complex instrument has earned him the virtuosity to draw forth utterly diametric sounds, as if from an array of harpsichords, horns, and drums.
And as if his performance isn’t captivating enough, Carpenter regularly creates a dialogue with the audience, allowing each and every audience member to feel significant. His commentary not only demonstrates his vast knowledge of the art of music, but also endears the audience to his well-spoken, intellectual, and somehow still informal manner of communication. He gives the public a chance to understand him and his mission, valuing the relationships he develops with individual audience members. Carpenter is an inspiration to us all as he continues to pursue his artistic dreams, while admirably remaining true to himself.
(Photo credits: CameronCarpenter.com, Rosie Toumanian)