Cameron Carpenter’s self-designed, state-of-the-art, self-designed International Touring Organ (ITO) combines “the cathedral organ’s expansiveness and the rapidity and audacity of the Wurlitzer.” You really just have to see Carpenter in action to get what he’s all about, so we’re delighted to introduce his video of his performance of Gordon Lightfoot’s classic hit “If You Could Read My Mind” exclusively here at Blogcritics.
The New York Times has called Carpenter “extravagantly talented…everything he touches turns fantastical and memorable.” That “everything” encompasses popular songs, classical showpieces, and the world premiere recording of his own “Music for an Imaginary Film.” A virtuosic musician and a showman extraordinaire, Carpenter travels with his custom-built ITO, built to his own specifications in collaboration with digital organ pioneers Marshall and Ogletree.
This unique instrument, which Carpenter unveiled at Lincoln Center in March 2014, dispenses with the pipes associated with traditional organs. Instead it uses digitized sounds from instruments from all over the world. Yet playing it is as physical an activity as working any traditional organ, as the video shows.
Carpenter explains that his aim with the ITO is to keep “the best of the classical organ – its emotional magnitude, its sonic range, its coloristic drama – but to liberate these from the pipe organ’s immobility, its moving parts, its cost, its institutionality. I want the ‘American Classic’ cathedral organ to combine with its counterpart, the cinema organ, in a single instrument. It has to have the cathedral organ’s expansiveness and the Wurlitzer’s clarity, rapidity and audacity. It will be ethereal and rhythmless at times – and at other times more rhythmically intense than any pipe organ in the world.”
See and hear for yourself. Along with Bach, Piazzolla, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Leonard Bernstein, the album includes audacious transcriptions of songs by Leonard Cohen and Burt Bacharach as well as Lightfoot’s number one hit from 1970-71. The release will include a DVD with music clips and excerpts from a forthcoming documentary examining Cameron’s work.
Carpenter and the ITO are on a U.S. tour this fall and winter. See his website for details.
If You Could Read My Mind comes out August 25 on Sony Classical. Pre-order here.