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Organist Cameron Carpenter Releases First Decca Gold Album

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Featuring Bach and Howard Hanson.

Organist Cameron Carpenter Releases First Decca Gold Album

On Friday, October 15, 2021, American organist Cameron Carpenter releases his first album on Decca Gold, a recording of J.S. Bach's The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 juxtaposed with his own transcription of Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2 in D-flat Major, Opus 30, W45, "Romantic." Both works are performed on the International Touring Organ, the American digital concert organ designed by Cameron Carpenter.

Written to showcase the technical and virtuosic possibilities of keyboard instruments in general, The Goldberg Variations is as much a look into the baroque master's sense of compositional invention as it is a tour de force for performers. Bach originally wrote the variations for harpsichord with two keyboards, and Cameron Carpenter's version for organ reinterprets its roots, even as it forges in a different direction. His custom-made organ beautifully serves the many technical demands of the piece and adds a palette of tonal variations to the composer's harmonic and melodic inventions.

American composer Howard Hanson's (1896-1981) Symphony No. 2, the "Romantic", was commissioned by Maestro Serge Koussevitzky to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1930 and has become his best known work. The theme for the symphony was supposedly written while visiting Interlochen Center for the Arts, and in 1931, the composer would gift the piece to Interlochen founder Joseph Maddy as the theme song for its new music camp. The haunting nature of the melody would become a part of movie history as the theme played over the end scene of the iconic 1979 science fiction film, Alien.

While Hanson's work is characterized by a harmonic vocabulary that was seen as too conservative during the modernist 1960s, 21st century musicians like Cameron are rediscovering his music. The piece is a personal passion for Carpenter, taking advantage of the expressive and coloristic possibilities of the touring organ in a manner not heard in the Variations. In particular, the extended 42-note range of its custom pedalboard allows the playing of various countermelodies and interior parts.

With his exceptional musicality, sheer endless technical ability and pioneering spirit, the extraordinary organist Cameron Carpenter is already leaving his mark on recent music history. Ever since the completion of his own instrument, the International Touring Organ (ITO) in 2014, Cameron defies initial skepticism towards this digital instrument and established the ITO on the world's most prestigious stages. By now, he almost exclusively performs on the ITO, be it in recital or concerto appearances. This tailor-made instrument, based on Carpenter's own plans, allows him to perform at almost any location worldwide. Thus far, he has taken it on tour to Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Asia in addition to numerous appearances around Europe and the US.

Cameron's last album, Rachmaninoff & Poulenc, is a live recording with the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra released in April 2019 on Sony Classical. It is the follow-up to All You Need is Bach which topped the Billboard Classical charts at #1 in the USA and on the European charts upon its release in Spring 2016.

Recent highlights include recitals with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Lucerne Festival, Philharmonie Cologne, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Philharmonie Luxembourg and his debut at the Cité de la Musique, Paris. Core of Carpenter's repertoire in the current season will be Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations, as well as his transcription of Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2 "Romantic."

Born in 1981 in Pennsylvania, USA, Carpenter became a member of the American Boy Choir School in 1992. Besides his mentor Beth Etter, John Bertalot and James Litton taught him. At the North Carolina School of Arts he studied composition and organ with John E. Mitchener. Carpenter transcribed more than 100 works for organ, amongst others Mahler's Symphony No 5. He composed his first own works during his studies at Juilliard School in New York, 2000-2006 where, at the same time he also had piano lessons with Miles Fusco. In 2011 his concerto for organ and orchestra, The Scandal, was premiered by Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen at the Philharmonie Cologne. In 2012 he received the Leonard Bernstein Award of the Schleswig-Holstein-Musik Festival and was Artist in Residence of Konzerthaus Berlin in the 17/18 season. Learn more at www.cameroncarpenter.com.


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