Organist Cameron Carpenter is a gleeful throwback to the days when musicians were entertainers, dazzling audiences with novelty after novelty. And he is presenting the pipe organ in a snazzy new light. A Juilliard grad, he is the first organist ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award for a solo organ album (the 2008 Telarc CD "Revolutionary").
Carpenter, 35, has long loved doing what most would consider the impossible. His Grammy-nominated disc featured Chopin's "Revolutionary" Etude, his feet flying across the pedals to create that complicated bass. He has crafted organ arrangements of thorny piano music of not only Chopin but also of Rachmaninoff, Charles Ives and Percy Grainger, another unorthodox soloist whom he considers a personal hero. He also has explored pop music by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen. Scholars might argue about his ideas and interpretations, and his tank tops and Mohawk hairstyles have made some roll their eyes. But nobody denies that Carpenter is an amazing virtuoso and puts on a darned good show.
Cameron Carpenter brings his unique sparkle to Kleinhans Music Hall at 10:30 a.m. March 10 and 8 p.m. March 11, when he joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for two colorful masterpieces -- the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony and the Organ Concerto of Francois Poulenc. Tickets are $29-$82. Call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org.