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 is artist-in-residence at Middle Collegiate Church in New York's East Village, where he plays a four-manual virtual pipe organ that he designed for the broad ranging music of that church.
A champion of virtual pipe organs, Carpenter has been referred to as "the most controversial organist in the world" and "extraordinary" while also attracting criticism.
Early in 2008, Telarc signed Carpenter to an exclusive 6-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 has earned Carpenter a Grammy nomination in the category Best Solo Instrumental Performance (without orchestra). 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 Moussorgsky 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.