This may be the saddest award speech you will ever see

This may be the saddest award speech you will ever see


norman lebrecht

October 18, 2020

The Berlin-based organist Cameron Carpenter has been one of the heroes of the Covid era, taking his instrument around care homes in lockdown to bring joy to lonely and frightened residents.

But Cameron has now lost the maintenance facility for his instrument and will have to put it in storage. He was due to receive an Opus Klassik award this weekend. This is his acceptance speech – the saddest we’ve ever heard.



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Sending best wishes to my colleagues for a successful Opus Klassik tomorrow night, which I will have to miss as we move the International Touring Organ to storage following the disbanding of its Berlin facility. #cameroncarpenter #internationaltouringorgan #musicagainstcorona #savethearts 🙏🏼 @opusklassik @camimusic_ny @kd_schmid @sony.classical @sophiabacelar @alexander_shelley @theresavibberts @susan_slaymaker @bartfeld.orgue @lukas.hasler.organist @thomas_mellan @konzerthausberlin @bbmberlin @buendnisbuergerstiftungen @buergerstiftungberlin @berlinphil @laphil @eltonjohn @editionpetersgroup @boardwalkorgans @classicfm @doctorchriss92 @musical_olympus @futurestopspodcast @felixhell @idenstamorganist @sebastianorganist @juilliardschool @jasonbae1029 @olka.organistka @tobytumarkin @newyorktos @natsuki27 @orgelseite @thomasquasthoff @russell.jackson.organ

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  • RW2013 says:

    In an awards ceremony with 25 winners (and the most annoying compère of all times, besides Villazon), one missing acceptance speech will probably be a blessing.
    And it’s still the same drivel as the Echo Klassik, it’s name changed when it’s pop equivalent, the Echo Pop, was abandoned in 2018 after becoming “a platform for antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia and the trivialisation of acts of violence”.
    Just saying.
    All the same, well done to Mr. Carpenter for his social engagement.

  • Augustine says:

    I wonder how he was able to tour with the organ and visit care homes in lockdown. Here is a quote for a NYT 2014 review about the organ:
    “The Touring Organ can be unloaded from a truck (a large truck) and set up on a stage in under three hours, its makers maintain. Mr. Carpenter plans to show off its mobility on an international tour next season.”

    In any case, it is a very sad acceptance speech.

  • James says:

    That was genuinely heart-wrenching to watch.

  • phf655 says:

    It’s not clear what the story is. Is he unable to pay the rent and other expenses for the facility that he is losing? Because he has no income from concerts? I am, of course, sympathetic, but I would be more sympathetic if I knew the whole story, which he doesn’t want to share with the public.

  • IP says:

    Is he a kind of wrestler? He is in a more advanced state of undress than even Miss Lola, and she was at least sitting at, not on the piano.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The appearance of Mr Carpenter in care homes will be a worrying sight for the residents rather than relieve their anxiety.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        That’s an unworthy comment on an heroic act.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Come-on Norman…… a performer who thinks that he needs to present himself in a state of undress (picture) to show-off his muscles, does not understand which art form he is supposed to serve. In other words: such presentation is ridiculously misplaced, however well-meaning the performer’s other qualites may be, in terms of playing or altruism.

          • James says:

            Maybe he is just that little bit closer to the realities of the market than you? That wouldn’t be a surprise, since you spend so much time putting people down on this website that you can’t be doing much composing, and if you are, it sure isn’t having any impact.

            But thanks for pointing out his muscles. Cool that you noticed that.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Art is not a commodity in a market, and where it is, you get the wrong people sucked-in – simply that. And a side effect is people that only have some of their own filth to offer, like this comment.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’m personally absolutely furious that the younger generation – in a vast array of professions and occupations – has been asked to sacrifice EVERYTHING to keep alive the over 65 cohort. It is beyond appalling. The Covid hysteria will come back to bite.

    • Jon Eiche says:

      “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
      —Ebenezer Sue

    • Eric says:

      The only hysteria is in your comment. Protecting the lives of the elderly is not opposed to keeping the economy going. This is the kind of false dichotomy right wingers are so fond of.

      • Nik says:

        If that’s the case then why are our economies imploding before our eyes? The arts sector in particular, but not exclusively.

  • Maybe says:

    In time there will be a grand concert where mutual affection can be shared, and he can do what he is best at. Who really needs an award when all the right people can show they love him? An award is pleasant, but something else to dust. They are often given to those who least warrant one, anyhoo! For selflessly going into the community, there is no award for that, but lovely memories for all concerned. Be Blessed C.M.,

  • Fiddlist says:

    Is he trying to look like Justin Timberlake now? Or Mr T?

    • James says:

      I don’t see any resemblance to either, and what is the problem? Are you really willing to judge an artist only on how they look? Wow.

  • christopher storey says:

    Shouldn’t there have been a violin playing “Hearts and Flowers” in the background ? Can someone explain to me, please, how it is that friends and relatives cannot visit their aged, sometimes sick, and sometimes dying, old people, and yet this fellow, who is unknown to me, can traipse round going into care homes ?

    • James says:

      Oh boy, do a little research (though why would you?) and you will easily see that he had a truck and organ that went into all manner of courtyards, streets and such to be able to play to people at their windows. No one was ‘traipsing around’ – good work was being done with and on behalf of classical music. But why let that stop you from displaying your ignorance and pride?

    • Pipeguy says:

      He performed outside the elder-care units, and in no way was an elderly person compromised by his appearance in their vicinity.

  • Edward says:

    Plenty of conventional pipe organs around for him to play, only he’s not that interested in those….

    • Chris Wilford says:

      I can think of no one besides Cameron who is more acutely aware of every important functional organ in existence. Its condition, playability quirks and limitations. The ITO is a labor of passion to bring this music to venues and areas with no access to a proper, functioning pipe organ. It would do you well to do some research. He is an exceptional talent as well as authority on the instrument.

      • Edward says:

        And you should do yours. He has been quoted as saying ”the pipe organ is dead”, he describes learning to play on different instruments as “maddening”, seemingly placing himself above every other organist that has to do exactly that when playing on an unfamiliar instrument, as they do regularly. In this article he describes the digital organ as a ‘necessity’ and a ‘better instrument’ than a pipe organ. Presumably you’re in favour of pianists playing Piano Concertos on Clavinovas, Violinists playing on electric instruments etc? Musicians are all having to adapt in these times, there is a magnificent Sauer instrument in Berlin, why isn’t he doing concerts there?

        • James says:

          Again, exactly as I thought, you’re (obviously) just another organist who has an axe to grind with this artist. Who are you to say what an artist should do?

          • John Borstlap says:

            Nonsense. This Carpenter type is obviously not a serious organist. Every truly professional performer knows what the best instrument is for his work, and people thinking that to ‘go with the times’ means exchanges the best for the fake and the kitsch, are merely disqualifying themselves and helping to kill-off the art form.

          • Mouse says:

            The adjective serious is used again and again by the 60+ as a criterion for classical musicians. Out of real interest and without ulterior motives: What is it that defines you as being a serious composer? I really mean: Has anyone here ever read an ad for an audition that said: “We’re looking for a serious violinist”? What a stupid word – in many ways.

    • James says:

      Do a little research. He played two Proms, the Berlin Philharmonic made him the first organist in residence they ever had. Do you seriously think he doesn’t play pipe organs?

  • Organista says:

    Just try packing up a conventional pipe organ for a tour.