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‘Bad Boy’ Organist And Music Phenomenon To Perform With NZSO

American organist Cameron Carpenter, hailed by The Los Angeles Times as a “a phenomenal virtuoso”, will perform for the first time with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in March.

Carpenter, the first organist nominated for a Grammy Award, has been praised for his provocative and revolutionary approach to playing the instrument and, with his ‘bad boy’ rock star presence, attracting new audiences to the organ and orchestral music. His 2016 album All You Need is Bach topped the Billboard Classical Charts.

“When I play the organ, I don't much think about critics, purists, other organists. I mostly think about people like my father, who couldn't have told the difference between music by Leonard Bernstein or JS Bach. I try to play in a way which is understandable,” he says.

For his NZSO tour Carpenter will perform on the magnificently restored Rieger organ in Christchurch Town Hall and Dunedin Town Hall’s treasured century-old “Norma” organ.

He will play one of the best-known works for organ, JS Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, and French composer Francis Poulenc’s exhilarating Organ Concerto.

When Carpenter performed Toccata and Fugue in the United States last year The Los Angeles Times was ecstatic, calling him one of “the most transformative and convincingly individual musicians” of his generation.

“The organ is a complicated instrument which contains the entire spectrum of hearing, from the threshold of audibility to extreme power, and everything in between,” Carpenter says.

The NZSO Mavericks tour is also the welcome return of acclaimed English conductor Alexander Shelley who enthralled audiences when he last led the Orchestra in 2017. “All sections [of the NZSO] were completely assured and the dramatic moments were immensely exciting under the very fine conducting of Alexander Shelley,” said Wellington’s The Dominion Post.

Mavericks also celebrates the 250th anniversary in 2020 of Beethoven’s birth with a performance of the composer’s sublime Fifth Symphony, one of the best-known and influential symphonies ever written.

Tickets to Mavericks in Christchurch are available via and for Dunedin via





JS BACH Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565

POULENC Organ Concerto

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5

CHRISTCHURCH | Christchurch Town Hall| Friday 20 March| 7.30pm

DUNEDIN | Dunedin Town Hall | Saturday 21 March| 7.30pm


Cameron Carpenter

Born in 1981, Carpenter transcribed more than 100 classical works to organ, including Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, while studying organ and composition. While at student at the prestigious Julliard School of New York he wrote his own works for organ, and has had his works performed with leading orchestras.

He was the first organist to be nominated for a Grammy Award for his 2008 album Revolutionary, while his 2016 album All You Need is Bach topped the Billboard Classical Charts in the US and European charts.

Carpenter performed with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra in 2011.

Alexander Shelley

Born in 1979, Maestro Shelley’s conducting prowess sees him in demand by many of the world’s best orchestras.

Hailed by Britain’s Daily Telegraph as “a natural communicator both on and off the podium”, he’s been praised for his achievements as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Artistic Director of chamber orchestra Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s award-winning Zukunftslabor project, designed to engage the orchestra with new audiences.

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