Organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter has had a passion for music since he was a child, and as he delved deeper into the world of classical music, he discovered that pipe organs are actually pretty flawed because of their physical limitations. Carpenter has become an advocate for digital organ music, and he’s even debuting an international touring organ next month at New York City's Lincoln Center that would allow him to play his own instrument anywhere around the world.
Carpenter is performing Friday, Feb. 7, at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart.
Here is an excerpt from an interview I had with Carpenter:
The Elkhart Truth: When you come to Elkhart, you will be playing the Lerner's restored 1924 Kimball pipe organ, right?
Carpenter: In a way, this is a concert that I would consider the end of my first career, and I don’t mean that in a snide way. I certainly look forward to anything I can learn from the organ at the Lerner Theatre, and I expect to learn something, because as I said, every pipe organ is different. That’s one of the nostalgically wonderful, but very, very frustrating things about it. It’s the thing that keeps the pipe organ from being a participant in the musical infrastructure of the world commercially. It’s not anything artistically against it, but it’s there are observable things about the pipe organ that keeps it from being as eligible as, for instance, the piano or the violin to take part in the mechanisms of musical branding and stardom in our world, even at a small level.”
The Elkhart Truth: Since no two organs are alike, how much time do you need to get to know a new instrument?
Carpenter: I don’t know when I arrive whether that organ will be like a jazz band or a symphony orchestra, whether it will be sort of like a old woman – aristocratic in taste in demeanor – or sort of a barroom brawl. I don’t really know whether its identity will come from Hawthorne or Thoreau, or rather from Charles Bukowski. It can be all over the map in terms of identity, and I simply won’t know until I play it, so it would be a mistake or maybe even foolhardy to commit to say I will play this or I won’t play that. But what I have to do, and it makes it even more of a performance of the moment, is adapt to the instrument to make it work regardless, and that’s what I look forward to doing.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.