Bad Boy Organist: what happened next

Bad Boy Organist: what happened next


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2011

Some months ago I relayed a dolorous email from Cameron Carpenter’s agent. The self-styled Bad Boy of the Organ had gone missing. More specifically, he had given his agent the push and was off into the wide, wide world to make his fame and fortune.

photo by Dana Ross
Well, now we know where the naked organist has landed. A press release announces that Cameron’s cake has been cut in three chunks – CAMI for North America, KD Schmid for the rest of the world and Peters Edition for publishing his flamboyant arrangements. That’s how the future lines up for the hottest thing in the organ loft since Saint Cecilia, at least.
photo by Chris Owyoung, with styling by Maeri Hedstrom

Hmmmm…. maybe there’s more to the Bad Boy than meets the ear. It was shrewd of him to avoid becoming exclusively CAMI’s Cameron, as the former conductors agency is no longer the powerhouse it once was. And it was even sharper of him to plant a large footprint in Europe as a clever hedge against declining US attendances for classical variety acts.
As Cam himself puts it: “There could hardly be a better start to the New Year for a musician than to be simultaneously signed by both CAMI Music and Konzertdirektion Schmid. I’m thrilled that my work has the muscular advocacy of both Jean-Jacques Cesbron and Cornelia Schmid on a combined four continents.”

But that’s not quite the full story. CAMI’s Cesbron, who Cam credits above, spends most of his waking hours looking after – you guessed – Lang Lang. So the plot thickens. Suddenly the two flashiest finger men are under the same manager. What price a big duet? Or is that more like a duel? Here’s Lang Lang practising for the event, back home in Beijing.

                                                                                                                                                            press photo: AP

Full press release appears below





Virtuoso Recently Profiled on CBS Sunday Morning;

Global Management By CAMI Music and Konzertdirektion Schmid


[New York, NY] – Wherever Cameron Carpenter appears, he generates enormous excitement from audiences and critics alike; and as the only organist in the world filling concert halls from Berlin’s Philharmonie to Davies Hall in San Francisco, it’s clear he is now one of the industry’s most in-demand talents. On the heels of a recent U.S. national television profile on CBS Sunday Morning, the “Bad Boy of the Organ” (CBS) announces his new management team, solidifying his representation throughout the world: CAMI Music, LLC for North America and Asia, and Konzertdirektion Schmid for Europe, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia (including Nordic countries), New Zealand, and Australia.


“There could hardly be a better start to the New Year for a musician than to be simultaneously signed by both CAMI Music and Konzertdirektion Schmid,” says Carpenter. “I’m thrilled that my work has the muscular advocacy of both Jean-Jacques Cesbron and Cornelia Schmid on a combined four continents.”


Formed in 2004, CAMI Music specializes in the worldwide general management and touring of nearly 50 prominent artists, institutions and events across the worlds of theater, dance, and world, jazz, and classical music and beyond. Carpenter joins a roster including such superstars as Lang Lang, Seiji Ozawa, Maxim Vengerov, Howard Shore, Tan Dun, and the American Ballet Theatre.  Specifically, Cameron will join CAMI Music’s Instrumentalists as only the sixth artist in that elite group, alongside Lang Lang, Ray Chen, Khatia Buniatishvili, Mischa Maisky, and Vadim Repin.

“We are thrilled to bring an artist of Cameron’s stature to the roster,” said Jean-Jacques Cesbron, President of CAMI Music. “We are looking forward to introducing our clients to his phenomenal talent and ground-breaking vision of what the organ can do.” 


In addition, Cameron’s manager Tobias Tumarkin of CAMI Music adds “We are so excited to be working with Cameron and strongly believe that he will bring new fans to the organ and the wonderful repertoire, both classical and popular, that it provides.”


Konzertdirektion Schmid is Europe’s leading classical music management, well-known for handling the European careers of artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, Joshua Bell, Murray Perahia, Yefim Bronfman, Xavier de Maistre, Mitsuko Uchida, among others. Cameron is represented by Schmid associate Benedikt Carlberg as the sole organist on the Schmid roster.


“We instantly knew that Cameron Carpenter is an exceptional and brilliant artist from the very first moment he caught our attention. Not only because he plays the organ in a way nobody has done before – but particularly because of his deep understanding of the music and his absolute dedication to it,” saysCornelia Schmid, who manages the Konzertdirektion as President from their office in Hannover, Germany.


Carpenter, called a “smasher of cultural and classical music taboos” by the Los Angeles Times, started 2011 with the world premiere of The Scandal, a major 30-minute work for organ and orchestra composed by Carpenter and commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie (KölnMusic GmbH). This was the first major event under Carpenter’s new relationship with world-renowned publishing house Edition Peters, which has signed the composer to an exclusive worldwide publishing contract. Edition Peters, which has already published Carpenter’s Aria, Opus 1 for solo organ and will soon release his Serenade and Fugue on B.A.C.H as Opus 2, will publish The Scandal in two versions, both as Carpenter’s Opus 3 (for organ and full orchestra) and Opus 3a (for organ and expanded chamber orchestra, as premiered in Cologne).


The Scandalwith Carpenter in the solo organ role, debuted on New Year’s Day 2011 at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie under the direction of Alexander Shelley. Lauded by press and audiences alike, the performance garnered such praise as from Germany’s Die Welt: “Carpenter…is proving himself to be a clever eclecticist, who understands to entertain with much finesse.”


“I’m honored to watch Edition Peters launching my career as a composer. With the publication ofThe Scandal, Op. 3 in 2011, I hope to begin an ongoing expansion of the secular organ repertoire, particularly in major works for organ and orchestra,” says Carpenter.


For more information on Cameron Carpenter, including his most recently released CD/DVD set Cameron Live! (Telarc, 2010), visit


Cameron Carpenter

Cameron Carpenter is a dazzling performer and showman, but these are just the first impressions to be had from a diverse and prolific artist. Encompassing the organ in all its iterations – pipe, virtual, classical, and popular – Cameron’s unique voice is emerging as a revolutionary in his field, while still evolving. This exorbitant virtuoso is renowned not only for his playing of the great organ works, but also for his compositions which – in their emphasis on color, secularity, and performative freedom – follow in the footsteps of Percy Grainger, Sigfrid Karg-Elert, and Leopold Godowsky. The 29-year-old (first ever) Grammy®-nominated organist has already performed widely in the U.S. and abroad, and arranges prolifically for the organ (from Chopin’s Études and piano masterworks of Liszt, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Medtner, etc., to contemporary pop music and scores from Japanese animé).

“No other musician of Carpenter’s generation has more adeptly fused shrewd showmanship, dazzling technique and profound thinking about his instrument and his place in the musical cosmos…” – San Francisco Chronicle



For Media requests:

Amanda Sweet/Bucklesweet Media 347-564-3371


For CAMI Music: Tobias Tumarkin


For KD Schmid: Benedikt Carlberg



  • Marie Lamb says:

    Hmmm! Makes me wonder; should the operative acronym involved in this potential smackdown be CAMI or WWE? 🙂

  • Grant Barnes says:

    I was at the premiere of Carpenter’s new work for organ and orchestra, “Der Skandal,” which the Bremer Kammerphilharmonie commissioned for performance at its January 1, 2011, concert at the Cologne Philharmonie, as the press release observes.
    I believe the quote in that press release about this new work is a translation of commentary by Manuel Brug (Die Welt), who wrote, in full:
    “Nur konsequent, dass jenseits der Hohenzollernbrücke, in der [Koelner] Philharmonie, das sonst so beschwingte Traditionsneujahrkonzert der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie ebenfalls mit einem geschminkten, glitzernden, nagellackierten Herren aufwartet, der voluminös in die Tasten und Manuale greift. Cameton Carpenter, innovativer wie schillernder, gerade aus New York nach Berlin verzogener Orgelstar, der der verzopften Königin der Instrumente plötzlich wieder Glanz und Fans zutreibt, spielt als Opus 3a eine Uraufführung, die sich programmatisch “The Scandal” nennt. Nach 30 Minuten und vielen Orchesterriffs, generösem Orgelgewoge, einem intimen Duett mit dem Cello und einem brillanten Finale gibt es stehende Ovationen für diese boulevardeske Kurzgeschichte ohne Worte – auch wenn vielleicht im nahen Kürten Karlheinz Stockhausen in seiner blaugekachelten Gruft zuckt. Der wie ein Ballroomdancer über seine Fußtasten streichelnde Carpenter hat Bernstein und Broadway genau studiert, erweist sich als cleverer Eklektizist und sicherer Stilimitator, der finessenreich zu unterhalten versteht, wohlig in Klischees wühlt und augenzwinkert zugibt, dass ihn allzu ‘intellektuelle Musik nervt’.”
    Thus, I don’t think the inference in your posting about Peters publishing only his “flamboyant arrangements” is accurate, since the three works so far, once the upcoming Op. 3a “Der Skandal” is published, are all original works for organ solo or organ and orchestra, hardly arrangements.
    Having heard a number of his original works, many of which have been recorded, I think Carpenter will be judged on the basis of his encompassing musical talent. And as a Los Angeles resident, I’m very much looking forward to his Disney Hall solo debut (he performed in the hall last in the Poulenc Organ Concerto in 2005), which is expected to include new transcriptions of Brahms but can be expected to include new original work, too.
    Indeed, I, for one, would enjoy seeing Carpenter’s transcription/arrangement for organ of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in published form and hope that his transciptions/arrangements for organ of the Chopin Etudes will be similarly published. Whether Carpenter’s interpretations of Brahms and Mahler are more “flamboyant” in the his versions than in the original I have to leave to others to opine on.

  • Loretta Dobos says:

    I’m so glad to see this – and so glad to see Mr. Lebrecht giving this coverage. If there’s one person in the organ world (and there is ONLY one!) who can hold his own with everyone from Anna Netrebko to Lang Lang to Kathleen Battle – and I’m talking on stage as well as off – it’s Cameron. I can’t wait to see the next developments!
    I also can’t help but feel that this is so richly deserved – especially after the colorful and questionable goings-on on the part of Torrence and Yaeger just a few months ago.
    Loretta Dobos