The Organist Entertains
A rainy Sunday in Shipley.
Sounds like a painting by L. S. Lowry or a short story by Alan Sillitoe but as the location is wrong for both these gentlemen it will become no more exalted than a post on my blog. To brighten up our Sunday afternoon we took ourselves off to see what was afoot in Saltaire whence we gravitated towards the beautiful Victoria Hall. This used to be the Club and Institute for the workers at Salt's Mill.
After many years of declining the offer from The Cinema Organ Society, the hall management finally acceded to the installation of the Wurlitzer organ which had previously graced the Gaumont cinema in Oldham. Not only did the Society supply the organ, they paid the £20,ooo cost of installation. The superb acoustics of the hall make this an ideal setting for the instrument, and, in accordance with the terms of the gift, the Society holds an organ concert here every month. This month the resident organist from the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool - Phil Kelsall - is performing.
The concert starts with the organ rising through the stage floor whilst I do like to be beside the seaside is played. We are a good distance from the seaside but I guess there is a certain tradition in this. I am immediately transported back to my childhood when Reginald Dixon held this post and performed every week on the Light Programme.
The Wurlitzer is an amazing instrument - powerful and versatile - and in the skillful hand s of Phil Kelsall demonstrates these qualities admirably. Personally, I find this kind of music tiring. the relentless and solid nature of the harmonics and lack of definition to individual notes reminds me of mashed potato.
On this occasion a brighter interlude was provided by a charming and talented singer - Claudia Myles whose repertoire included some beautiful renditions of popular songs. She also provided a more attractive vision than Phil's back!