Built by digital organ pioneers Marshall & Ogletree of Needham, MA, the touring organ will allow both Cameron’s repertoire and his touring schedule to expand in even more compelling directions. Currently under construction in the USA, the organ consists mainly of a modular five-keyboard console; a massively parallel processing system utilizing samples from several organs key to Cameron’s artistic development; and a revolutionary “geographic” concert audio system scalable to the largest concert halls, medium alternative venues such as nightclubs, open-air use, and television.
“My vision 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,” he says. “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.”
Perception of the organ as an institutional instrument is something Cameron looks forward to shifting with the touring organ. “Organists almost never own their instruments – meaning they play at the pleasure of whomever does. The organ scene is rife with stories of organists who have lost instrument relationships of years at the behest of a change in management. Such a situation is too insecure for real artistic freedom, and the digital organ stands to give organists the chance for deeper relationships with their craft – of which this organ may be a bold first step.” Cornelia Schmid, President of Konzertdirektion Schmid, who helped Cameron secure the financing to purchase his instrument, agrees. “Owning an instrument is a natural thing for most instrumentalists. For Cameron as an organist who appears at all major venues of the world, it should be natural, too. I admit that this idea might seem quite unusual, but so is Cameron. We are glad Konzertdirektion Schmid can support making his dream come true, and we’re convinced that this will be not just is a new episode in Cameron’s success story, but also a unique and very enriching contribution to modern musical life.”
Cameron will officially open the organ on March 9, 2014 in a day-long festival at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Produced by Columbia Artists Music LLC, the festival includes two full-length concerts among other events. The introduction of the organ on one of the most important American stages is only to be expected from Cameron’s American management CAMI Music LLC, where Cameron’s manager Toby Tumarkin says “Cameron is one of the most daring artists with whom we’ve ever worked. Our Lincoln Center launch festival will be a perfect showcase not only of this historic organ but also the depth and breadth of Cameron’s artistry.” Following this, the organ will fly to Europe in advance of Cameron’s extensive May 2014 tour of major European concert halls, including the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, Vienna Konzerthaus, Cologne Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper, and many others.
Founded by degreed organists Douglas Marshall and David Ogletree, organbuilding firm Marshall & Ogletree shot to fame in 2003 with their first organ, a monumental instrument for Trinity Church Wall Street in NYC. Built to replace the pipe organ damaged on 9/11, and subsequently declared Trinity’s long-term organ, it was the first digital instrument to replace a major pipe organ in a venue of national prominence. The decision was immediately controversial, but not to Cameron Carpenter – who, then a student at The Juilliard School, began working closely with Marshall & Ogletree to expand the artistic palettes of their instruments by hybridizing the “American Classic” cathedral organ with the sound of the American theatre organ in ways that could never be achieved in a pipe organ. “We’re thrilled that Cameron has chosen M&O to build his dream instrument,” says M&O co-founder David Ogletree. “This is the organ that will literally be heard ’round the world’, and it will be a ‘pilgrimage organ’ as never before possible: one whose pilgrimage brings it to the listener, rather than the historical reverse.”