Cameron Carpenter: Incredible virtuosity undermined by questionable style

When the featured organist at a solo recital steps on stage outfitted in blue crushed velvet tails, platform footwear backed with rhinestones, and sporting a bald undercut Mohawk coiffure, you recognize you’re at a Cameron Carpenter live performance.

Even earlier than Carpenter made his entrance Sunday night on the Jacobs Music Middle’s Copley Symphony Corridor, his identifiers have been onstage. 5 manuals (i.e., keyboards), stops, and an LED display carved a futuristic convex form out of a black console cupboard downstage middle, whereas eight quartets of glossy audio system stood stage proper, left and all the best way upstage, bathed in blue lights. Cones projected like megaphones from 5 of the speaker units.

If George Jetson performed organ, his instrument may appear to be this. It’s precisely — if immodestly — referred to as “The Worldwide Touring Organ,” a powerful assortment of sampled organ sounds from church and theater organs which travels with Carpenter.

There isn’t a higher recognized organist at the moment, nor one so controversial. Followers love Carpenter’s extravagance, his colourful preparations, and his virtuosity.

Others regard him because the Antichrist of the American Guild of Organists. Enjoying on an digital organ as an alternative of actual pipes? For disgrace! Utilizing dozens of organ timbres and heavy rubato to play Bach? Sacrilege! Creating preparations of piano and orchestral repertoire for the organ? Pshaw, there’s nice music composed for the organ which he might champion as an alternative! Enjoying gooey preparations of saccharine pop music like Leslie Bricusse’s “Pure Creativeness?”

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