Art & Icon
CAMERON CARPENTER PLAYS TO THE TUNE OF HIS ORGAN
“He is a smasher of cultural and classical music taboos,” says The Los Angeles Times.
“Evil genius or radical evangelist?” the Sydney Morning Herald once asked. “Cameron Carpenter is a bit of both.”
Truth is, Carpenter can’t stand labels, something he has long fought, especially as a bisexual man.
When I get him on his cellphone, he is speeding through a New York airport to get to his next concert on his current world tour which is officially named – wait for it – “Cameron Carpenter and his International Touring Organ.”
“Bisexual is a better word (to describe me) than gay,” says Carpenter. “In a tongue-in-cheek way I just like to say I’m gay and bisexual, because it’s all true. When I’m gay, I’m gay, just like in the general sense I’m not. It is possible to hold conflicting or co-acting views and desires. I’m very much aware of being attracted to women when I am involved with men. My sexuality involves all genders.”
Concert-hall organist Cameron Carpenter is a feast for the eyes and ears. The celebrated musician has been described as “extravagantly talented” by The New York Times, been called the “bad boy of the organ” and a “maverick organist.”
This is something he discovered growing up. A keyboard prodigy, Cameron Carpenter trained at the American Boychoir School at the age of 11 before moving on to The University North Carolina School of the Arts. He says “it mattered greatly” that he was attracted to both boys and girls, something, he adds, “I didn’t really start to grapple with on a daily basis until I was about 15.”
“I had the mixed blessing of being away at boarding school at 11years-old, after that I was accepted at the University of North Carolina at the age of 14, then I went directly from there to Juilliard,” says Carpenter. “So I was away from home from the age of 11 and never went back. That’s been wonderful because I have had the support of my family but it also meant I could explore my own sexuality.