Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 11, 2013

Cameras document young organist's career

MEADVILLE — To paraphrase the title of a classic Leonard Cohen tune, “First he takes Manhattan, then he takes Berlin.”

“That’s really how it seems to be going,” Cameron Carpenter agreed, flashing a subtle smile.

With a five-member German documentary film team in tow, the Townville native who received his master’s degree from The Juilliard School in Manhattan in 2006 and made the transatlantic move to Berlin four years later, has spent the past two weeks revisiting pivotal people and places from his first 32 years.

Today, it’s time to head back to Berlin, not a moment too soon for award-winning director Thomas Grube, who can’t wait to start editing what he refers to as “lots and lots of hours of exciting material” into a feature-length film — complete with a version for television.

The massive effort is all centered around the upcoming launch of a groundbreaking organ that’s now being built to Carpenter’s exact specifications.

The launch of the instrument known as the International Touring Organ has been set for March 9, 2014, during a day-long festival at Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. Recently signed to a long term multi-album contract with Sony Classical, Carpenter’s debut album with the label will be recorded on the new organ. In addition to the audio album, the Sony release scheduled for early 2014 will include a DVD that examines his work, his dream of creating a touring organ and the instrument’s path from vision to reality.

“The organ has always been an analog instrument,” Carpenter said. “That’s rumored to be the way life should be — but I believe that the digital organ is potentially a greater instrument.”

Greater not only because it sounds greater, but greater because it brings more out of the person playing it, he said.

Breaking with what he describes as another widely-held opinion, “An organ is simply a machine, like every other instrument,” Carpenter said. “It’s an instrument — a tool. It’s designed to serve a human purpose. To get caught up on the idea that it’s somehow holy or somehow an end in itself is a mistake that’s made, and is made almost unanimously, worldwide.”

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