Organ Virtuoso Bridges Gap Between Organ Of Past And Organ Of Future

Download Audio

Cameron Carpenter is one of the world's best organists, and we went to Sanders Theater in Harvard Square to meet him. He plays a highly unusual organ, and he says he uses his feet like fingers — dancing over the organ's 42 pedals, as his hands also fly across five separate keyboards.

It's not often you hear George Gershwin on an organ — it's typically considered a church instrument, or maybe one for the ballpark — but Carpenter plays Gershwin's "Clap Yo' Hands" on the organ, and the world-renowned, GRAMMY-nominated, Julliard-trained virtuoso organist didn't begin his love affair with the organ in church.

He describes his custom-made international touring organ as a "large, digital organ that plays sampled sounds from pipe organs, a number of pipe organs around America."

The console is eight-feet wide, containing hundreds of colorful buttons and switches.

"For me, and I think demonstrably, it's not only one of the most colorful and flexible organs in the world, it's one of the most remarkable organs in the world in that, by dint of the technology that it employs — it brings together musical resources at a quality level and accessibility level that's more perceptible and more immediate for the average listener than than any pipe organ in the world," says Carpenter.

And accessibility is key for the 33-year-old virtuoso who has long claimed he wants to "bridge the gap between the organ of the past and the organ of the future."

Cameron Carpenter will be performing at Sanders Theatre Thursday at 8 p.m.


Cameron Carpenter, organist. He tweets @CameronOrganist.


Wicked Local Watertown: Piping Hot: Bejeweled Organist Cameron Carpenter Brings His Blazing Talent To Cambridge

  • "Cameron Carpenter holds forth boldly on many issues. The 33-year-old organist, who comes to Sanders Theatre March 5 as part of the Celebrity Series, aggressively proselytizes for his electronic instrument: 'There will be people for whom this is a stumbling block,” he says. 'Let them stumble.'"

This segment aired on March 5, 2015.


More from Radio Boston

Listen Live