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This classical music review was written by John Pitcher.
Organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter believes his profession needs a major makeover. “The organ world is basically 20 years behind the rest of classical music,” says Carpenter. “Now that’s saying something.”
Carpenter, who performs Sunday afternoon at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, has made it his life’s mission to change perceptions about the king of instruments. He’s certainly not your grandmother’s idea of a church organist.
A born iconoclast, Carpenter is known for his dazzling technique, charismatic stage persona and glam rock-style costumes
He’s unusually fashion-conscious for an organist and has been known to spend hours applying sparkling sequins to his costumes.
“Performers who ignore their appearance do so at great peril,” says Carpenter. “Most organists are the kinds of people you don’t necessarily want to watch for an hour or more.”
Not surprisingly, Carpenter’s heterodoxy extends to his repertoire. He can play a Bach toccata and fugue with the best of them. But in concert he’s more likely to play one of his wild organ transcriptions of piano and orchestra works than standard fare.