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Cameron Carpenter's Organ Revolution

As the title of his new CD Revolutionary suggests, Cameron Carpenter is on a mission to transform the way people think about organists and their instruments.

The CD was recorded at Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan, blocks from the World Trade Center site. The 28-year-old organist didn't play Trinity's original organ, which was destroyed by ash, smoke and debris from the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead, he used a new virtual pipe organ that he and the company, Marshall & Ogletree, helped retro-fit and design for the church. It uses computers, amplifiers and speakers to create a big, bold, broad range of sound.

The Juilliard graduate, who says he isn't religious, is an artist-in-residence at the Middle Collegiate Church in New York's East Village. Carpenter's organ looks like a typical church-organ console, featuring four ranks of keyboards and foot pedals under the bench. But hidden behind the stately pipes of an earlier instrument are enormous speakers for the virtual pipe organ.

Carpenter says digital organs are the future, because they are portable and can be taken on tour, unlike traditional pipe organs. They can also be built to accommodate specific needs: For example, using his work on the Trinity organ as a template, Carpenter helped design a new organ for Middle Collegiate.

"This organ is the first Marshall & Ogletree organ to combine not only pipe sounds, but sounds which unabashedly have no origin in wood or metal," Carpenter says.

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