Taylor Cameron Carpenter (born April 18, 1981) is an American organist.
Carpenter has bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School in New York, having studied with Gerre Hancock, John Weaver, and Paul Jacobs. Though he is not religious, Carpenter was from 2008 to 2009 the artist-in-residence at Middle Collegiate Church in New York's East Village, where he played a four-manual electronic organ that he designed for the broad-ranging music of that church. Carpenter ended his residency in July 2009.
Early in 2008, Telarc signed Carpenter to an exclusive five-album recording contract. His Telarc debut album, Revolutionary, was recorded as a CD and DVD at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City and released September 23, 2008. The title comes from Carpenter's transcription of Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude". The album made Carpenter the first organist ever to receive a Grammy nomination in the category Best Solo Instrumental Performance (without orchestra) for a solo album. His first commercial album was a 2006 CD/DVD, Pictures at an Exhibition, on SeeMusicDVD. It includes his arrangement of the programmatic piano work by Modest Mussorgsky, and his own improvisatory "New York City Sessions". Visuals for the Mussorgsky were created by Marshall Yaeger and his Kaleidoplex. The recording was made at Trinity Church, New York.
An "early" recording, made in 2005 and financed by the Allen Organ Company, was titled notes from the underground. This recording was a highly unusual project for Allen, as Carpenter was given near-complete artistic control of the album, selection of the program, and even oversight of graphic design (featuring location shots of Carpenter at famous New York City graffiti sites). This album was not reissued by Allen and is now a rarity.
On June 1, 2010, Telarc issued in the U.S. a two-disc set with a CD carrying a J.S. Bach recital that had been recorded live at a recital he played in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City.
August 26, 2014, Sony issued the DVD If You Could Read My Mind, containing performances and commentary by Carpenter recorded on an electronic touring organ.
Carpenter has been both criticized by some and praised by others for his unorthodox interpretations of the standard organ repertoire. Registrations rarely follow those suggested by the composer, and Carpenter often takes dramatic liberties in articulation. Carpenter is also noted for his advocacy of the digital organ, particularly development of a touring electronic organ, citing factors such as the obstacles the pipe organ imposes on the ability of a traveling performer to enjoy an ongoing relationship with a single instrument in the same manner as many other instrumentalists. Despite this, he frequently performs on pipe organs, often garnering major exposure for the instrument.
On March 18, 2014, Carpenter, arriving at Birmingham Airport for a performance at Birmingham Symphony Hall the following day, was refused permission to enter Britain by Border Force who misapplied immigration rules for visiting foreign artists, known as permitted paid engagement. He returned to Britain the following day, and after a short detention at the airport, performed a reduced version of his planned recital. The House of Lords initiated an inquiry with the Home Office into the circumstances of his seven-hour detention and subsequent deportation. While it determined that he lacked a sponsors certificate and that no mistreatment occurred, it conceded that "Although the guidelines and policies were correctly followed by officers, Border Force accepts that more could have been done to assist Mr Carpenter."
In an interview with The Advocate, Carpenter was identified as gay -- a term often used to encompass one or more non-heterosexual orientations. "While my first love was a boy and I've had numerous male lovers, I also love women," Carpenter said. In a New York Times interview, it was reported, "Mr. Carpenter... describes his sexuality as 'radically inclusive'".