Who's Who at Bolton In Tune
2013 Concert Programme.
2013 Programme + Photo's
40th. Anniversary Concert
2013 programme with photo's
This page gives profiles and photographs of all artistes' appearing in 2013.
Tuesday January 15th. 2013
Chris Powell has firmly established himself as one of the UK’s premier ‘entertainment organists’ as well as a truly international ambassador in the field of electronic and theatre organ music. Born in Manchester in 1971, he emigrated to New Zealand with his parents when just 2 years old. Returning to England at the age of 5, his education and formative years while growing up in Lancashire saw him pursue his love of music with piano and organ studies culminating in a string of engagements for both local concerts and dances from the age of 14 onwards. By the time he was 18, he had successfully auditioned to join the team of organists playing for dancing at the Tower Ballroom Blackpool and began to be recognised for his musical talents leading to a succession of invitations to perform at electronic and pipe organ venues. Following his experience at Blackpool, Chris widened his talents to include work as a demonstrator for several manufacturers including Farfisa, Orla and more recently Roland with whom he his now associated on a freelance basis as a demonstrator and as such tours with their brand new, state of the art AT-900C Atelier instrument. 1994 saw as invitation to return to New Zealand for a month long concert tour on pipes and electronics which lead to an exciting invitation to spend all of 1996 as a Resident Organist at the ‘Baycourt Theatre’ in Tauranga. This was a unique and exciting experience in which, while accompanied by his then fiancée Marie Allsopp, he undertook all manner of concerts, functions and dances while playing the Theatre’s 10 rank Wurlitzer as well as accompanying the Operetta – ‘The Merry Widow’ on this much loved vintage instrument. Since then, he has gone on to become one of the most popular performers in the UK and intersperses his regular annual diary of engagements in Britain with frequent overseas concert tours with have included Holland, Australia and the US as well as NZ in recent years. Chris was also interviewed and filmed in action for a documentary on cinema nostalgia which screened in NZ last winter. Future visits to the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia are already in the diary again for 2008. He has a catalogue of acclaimed recordings to his credit on both pipes and electronics. Together with his wife, Marie, the couple run a successful Promotions Company and manage his Fan Club - The Chris Powell Appreciation Society.
Tuesday February 19th. 2013
Brett was born on the 23rd of August 1978 in Nottingham and raised by his grandparents Marianne and Alwyn. His grandfather owned an Elka 707 Organ and the house was always full of music, so it is little wonder that at a very young age Brett displayed a keen interest in music. Alwyn returned home from work one day to discover his young grandson playing the organ with his left hand, and keeping time to the rhythm unit. Alwyn asked if he could do the same with his right hand? The response was astounding - unruffled by the request, he did as asked, but with both hands at once. Brett was only three at the time and Alwyn realised his grandson might be talented. Marianne and Alwyn continued to encourage Brett to play as a hobby. Brett’s ability to listen to songs and then sing them with uncanny accuracy was to manifest itself yet again. He began playing by ear the music he heard, not just the melody, but accompaniment as well. This uncanny accuracy and ability to hear and then play sections and phrases, separate parts of a complete score, has stayed with Brett to this day - the Blue Danube played by him today being testament to the fact. Meanwhile, Alwyn had discovered an organ product new to him, the Wersi. They sold a range of organs in kit form that could be home built. We are not talking about putting set pieces together here; this was serious stuff, right down to soldering individual resistors and component parts on to circuit boards! Alwyn knew Brett needed a more complete ‘orchestral type organ’ and decided to rise to the challenge and built himself the Wersi Helios. Once complete it wasn’t long before Brett had mastered the new sounds and rhythms on this amazing instrument. His grandparents felt this obvious natural talent should not be wasted and sought private lessons from a local music teacher, who said it was rare to find in one so young the patience to sit, listen and learn all that was being taught. Brett’s enthusiasm and dedication to music, so much a hallmark of the man today, found him being described as a ‘Boy Genius’ when later he was to meet with Wersi Stars, Klaus Wunderlich and Franz Lambert. In April 1986 Ron Franklin (formally W.E.S.) organised a five day trip to the Wersi headquarters in Halsenbach Germany, a visit to where Wersi organs are still produced today. As reward for his improvement and dedication to musical studies, Brett’s grandparent’s decided to take Brett on the visit. They had the pleasure of seeing some of the greatest players & musical talents in the world including Mark Whale, Hady Wolf, Curt Prina and of course the master himself Klaus Wunderlich where Brett had the unusual privilege of shaking his hand. One of the highlights of the visit for Brett was the Saturday evening spent in the legendary Franz Lambert’s Felsenkeller. Brett stood at the side of Franz’s organ, transfixed and mesmerised, watching and learning more than most people realised. It was then Brett decided his ambition was to be the same one day as Franz Lambert, a famous organist. Back home the practice and tutorial sessions continued apace. There was a noticeable change, though, in Brett's music; he began to repeat all that he had heard at the Felsenkeller. Encouraged by the effect the visit had on Brett, Marianne, Alwyn and Brett made the same trip the following year but, unfortunately, Franz was unable to play for them. Instead, they went for the evening to a Bier Keller in Koblenz, where organist Udo Kemp was performing. Having heard Brett play previously, Udo asked if Brett would play for the people to dance. Amazingly, without a trace of nerves and oblivious to his audience, he proceeded to play music from his examinations. He also cheekily played a Franz Lambert Felsenkeller medley just as if he was at home playing to himself. Was this the first sign we saw of the humourist we have on stage today? The reaction from the audience - a standing ovation - was to be the first of many in Brett's career to date. A star was born – proud Grandparents, and Udo had a major problem getting Brett to leave the organ! 1989 was to be a memorable year for Brett and his family; they made the same trip as the two previous years, but this time they went, once again, to see Franz live at the Felsenkeller. This time, however, after hearing of Brett’s achievements at Koblenz, Franz requested Brett to play for him and his audience. One of the pieces Brett chose to play for Franz was one that Franz himself plays, “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes” with that Franz took the microphone and said “Brett we must play together”. The crowd stood around the organ amazed that this nine year old played seemingly without a care in the world. You can imagine it brought the house down and, later, Franz was to remark on Brett’s composure. That a professional musician, the stature of Franz Lambert, should take time out to encourage a young boy speaks volumes not just of Franz Lambert’s generosity, but his obvious recognition of an artistic and musical talent. Franz’s music is an influence on Brett’s style, particularly Brett’s late night spots, which have a definite Franz Lambert Felsenkeller ring to them! Yes, I think we can safely say that one of Brett’s idols is Franz Lambert! The annual trip to Germany in 1989 brought yet another duet between Brett and his idol Franz, this time playing “Strangers in the Night”. On the Sunday evening they attended another fantastic concert, by the ever impressive Mark Whale. Mark is often thought to be Brett’s older brother. Reinhardt Franz, one of the co-owners of Wersi GmbH, asked Brett if he would like to play during Mark’s concert in the auditorium at the Wersi headquarters. As always, Brett needed no second bidding to sit down and play, and gave a composed and professional performance. After the concert Brett was promised by Reinhardt and his brother W. E. Franz that in the following year he could have his own concert, which inspired Brett, then 11 yrs old, to prepare for 1990. Even though Brett wasn’t yet twelve years old he started doing various demonstrations for Wersi in the U.K. constantly demonstrating the top of the range Wersi Spectra organs of the time. It was getting hard for Brett to work on new material for demonstrating the Spectra when he could still only practise on his grandfather's Helios. Practising and preparing for demonstrations on one type of organ, and playing in public on another style of organ is not good. The nearest place he could get to play a Spectra was at Barnsley, the then northern Wersi dealership, too far for a young man who also had to attend school like any normal child, so Marianne and Alwyn decided to sell the Helios and get Brett his very own Spectra for his twelfth birthday. A special gift, from special people, for a very special young man. The many demonstrations around this time hold memories of good times, such as demonstrating at Stapley Water Gardens where he made two very good friends, organist Volkre Kruche & ten times world accordion champion Guy Dennis, both were kind, helpful and also enjoyed playing as a trio with Brett. Naturally there came a time when like all other young players Brett had to limit the amount of travelling, due to both his school work & musical examination’s as more time was dedicated to his grades. When he turned fifteen Brett was accepted for Clarendon College in Nottingham to study music although he had already learnt most of the course in his previous years with private tutors. It was the ‘Academy of Life’, the experience gained by playing with other musicians and bands around Nottingham that was to become so very valuable later on in Brett’s career. Orchestrations, arrangements, stage presence and professionalism were to turn musician into performer – into star. Brett will admit to being a lucky sort of person, and, as luck would have it, at a time just right, Brett met up again with an old friend from his Germany trips, the one and only Ken Davies, who - as luck would have it - was heavily involved in running Wersi – England. Brett was invited to appear at the long running Barton Hall Festival. Listening to Brett play and seeing him use the Spectra to it’s full potential, Ken decided to use Brett as his main demonstrator and concert artiste. A step in Brett’s career that was to give him the opportunity to appear at what was then all of the major organ festivals in England. Ken's friendship grew to become a special bond. Brett referred to him as “King Kenny” and even though the ‘King’ eventually stopped running Wersi in England, his role as Brett’s sound engineer and musical adviser continued until Spring of this year (2003) when, sadly, he lost his short battle against cancer. He was to Brett the solid foundation a double bass is to a band, helping to drive, develop and nurture the special talents of Brett Wales. It appears that the early years of hard work and studying are now paying off. Brett’s charisma stems from his ability to feel and display emotion through his music. It affects many in the audience, bonding the artiste with his audience. Others are simply charmed by his pleasant, open, gentle nature that turns people into friends. Over the years Brett has gained many true great friends in and around the music business, far too many to mention, but two very special friends have given Brett the opportunity to carry on and try to achieve the goal that Brett has worked so hard for all these years. Richard & Shirley Collis bought Brett, no strings attached, his very own white Wersi Scala with matching speakers, the queen of the brand new ‘Open Art System’ range of organs and keyboards just released by Wersi. This generous gesture was made to Brett by Richard and Shirley purely to say "thank you for the music". Even Brett (not usually caught for words) was reported by King Kenny to have been shaking with excitement for days after the offer was made. A gesture from two very special people who, we are sure, will have already seen and, indeed, heard the results of their involvement in Brett's career. Brett’s grandfather passed away on the 14th of March 2001 after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Sadly, he never saw his great granddaughter, Bethany, and he never got to hear his grandson playing the new instrument, didn’t get to witness the standing ovation Brett received in Concert at Ludlow. The audience did not know that the Blue Danube, played that night in public for the first time and dedicated by Brett to his grandfather, was in fact dedicated to his grandfather's memory. Brett had been advised by mobile 'phone only a few hours earlier, whilst on his way to that concert, that Alwyn had slipped away. Truly the professional, and a man his grandfather would have been proud of that night – the performance was what we have come to expect from Brett, polished to perfection and showing no sign of the turmoil that must have raged within. Brett likes to think that whilst Alwyn, who didn’t witness his grandson's impact on the organ scene, is now looking down on him and realising that what he saw in his young grandson when he came home from work that day in 1981 is now being recognised twenty years later by audiences everywhere. Today Brett is constantly in demand and playing to packed out venues all over the country.
Tuesday March 19th. 2013
Dave Smith looks back with pride over his musical career as he began playing the piano at the very early age of 4. Even at the tender age of seven, he entered a competition organized by the stocky silver-haired star-maker Carroll Levis. David, a Pikes Lane schoolboy was the youngest and couldn’t reach the pedals on the grand piano of the old Grand Theatre, but picked out a more than passable rendition of “Oh Mein Papa.” “Too young,” was the verdict of cherubic Mr Levis, but David, vowed: “I’ll be back.” He was encouraged by his father to take classical music lessons with a Piano teacher in Bolton (Mrs Toseland) where his father paid for his tuition right through the entire eight grades of Associated Board Piano Examinations, passing all with Distinction. Interest progressed to the point when he became engrossed in not just playing but also in writing and orchestrating which resulted in the formation his own trio at the age of twelve performing in local venues. It was also at this time, for the closing week of the magnificent Grand theatre in Bolton, a special show was prepared with youngsters from the local area performing, David being one of the line-up. On the opening day of the show, the pianist of the resident orchestra was taken ill. David was asked could he stand in, and without a rehearsal he played very ably with the orchestra in the pit and then quickly moved upstairs onto the stage for his own performance, playing on the instrument that just 8 years ago he was too young to reach the pedals on it. During his latter years at school he was fascinated with the electronic organ and at the age of sixteen, left school and joined Swan’s, the biggest of all the Manchester Organ and Piano Dealer as organ technician. They allowed him to take a break for two summers to be the personal pianist and musical director for showman Peter Webster at the Central Pier in Blackpool and in the Theatre on the pier. This enormous experience led him to become musical director in many cabaret clubs in and around Manchester. During this time, he was seen by Eric Delaney and was invited to join him as keyboardist and Musical Director, which he did successfully for two years. During that time he was MD for stars like Morecambe & Wise, Ken Dodd and the late Tony Hancock, later appearing in a Royal Command Performance in the presence of Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret. After this episode, wanting to be more in control he formed his own band namely the Dave Smith Sound playing at Theatres and Cabaret Clubs around the North West, including the North Pier Blackpool. In 1974, Dave was appointed manager of a local music shop E.D.Brown Organs in Bolton at the same time performing at many organ societies and making several recordings, most of which were played on the Radio stations including Radio Lancashire (call Radio Blackburn in those days). While managing this store he was asked to enter the Yamaha Electone Festival. He won the UK heat, going on to win the European finals in Hambourg, where he received as first prize, a trip to Japan and a chance to enter the International Concours. It was here, in 1975, that he was presented with the Most Outstanding Performance Award. Returning to the UK, he left the retail scene to appear with Trevor Chance playing at major cabaret venues throughout the UK with many appearances on the BBC "Pebble Mill at One" TV show. Again the electronic organ scene beckoned and Dave joined the Lowrey Organ Company and was Artist for the European Operations of Lowrey playing at venues and trade fairs all over Europe and the USA. In 1979 he was promoted to Marketing Specialist/Artist, and further promotion came in 1983 when he was made Keyboard Marketing Manager for Lowrey in Europe. 1984 was decision making time, because the Company invited him not only to work in Chicago, but reside there as well, where he became Director of Product Planning and Development in 1985. His success was heard throughout the world and especially by the President of Roland Corporation in Japan, Mr. Ikutaro Kakehashi and he asked Dave to form a Research and Development Department for Roland’s keyboard products concentrating on a new line of instruments for Roland....the Atelier range of organs. After many years with the Organ and Keyboard design team for Roland Corporation Japan, he decided to return to the showbiz scene. He is currently the Musical Director for many stars including the very successful three tenors - Tenorissimo (see www.tenorissimo.co.uk). As if that isn't enough to keep him busy, he's also the musical director at the church of St. Anne in his local village. The Organ Society and club circuit is also benefiting with Dave now being back on the performing circuit and in his 'spare time', is teaching piano, organ and keyboard. Another one of his responsibilities currently is working with the ever-expanding singing sensation “Sing Live UK”. (www.singliveuk.com)
Tuesday April 16th. 2013 - 40th. Anniversary concert
Prima Ballerina and Queen Of The Organ
Claudia Hirschfeld – born and living in Germany near Cologne - is a world renowned professional organist and keyboard player: a veritable Superstar on her instrument, who has not only performed successfully in Europe, but also in North and South America too. Most recently she caused a sensation in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) as well as China (Shanghai). Besides her work as a solo artist she has made a name for herself as an “orchestra” for well-known vocalists, having accompanied world-famous opera stars like René Kollo, Eva Lind or the GERMAN TENORS on several occasions. She has numerous CD, DVD and video productions that are testimony to her tireless work, which support her reputation as the "First Lady" and "Queen of the Organ".
Claudia Hirschfeld, a veritable International Star of the organ world, plays nearly 100 shows a year touring with her three manual Wersi Louvre organ. With this highly sophisticated instrument she is able to create her individual style incorporating the sound of whole symphony orchestras, ensembles and Big Bands. Her unique and eye catching pedalboard technique has become her trademark, earning her international press acclaim as “Prima Ballerina of the Organ”.
Tuesday May 21st.. 2013
Pete Shaw Born in February 1960 at Tyldesley, Manchester and with encouragement from a musical family, Pete has been playing piano since the age of 4. He is very well respected in the organ/keyboard business with which he has been associated for over 30 years and is currently Playing Ketron/Korg/Orla/Yamaha & Kurzweil Products. He started playing semi professionally in the North West working men's clubs at 15 years of age backing cabaret artistes with a 7 keyboard set up!! His love of organs and keyboards took him around the North West in the 80’s and 90’s visiting Organ Societies and AOE festivals where he proved very popular, and now, after a nine year break, he is back on the Organ Society and festival circuit with a new keyboard show including some great vocal performances. One of the most versatile player/performers around, in 2004/5 Pete had his all round musical talents channeled when he was asked be Musical Director/Studio Producer of an all new theatre road show version of ITV’s ’Stars In Their Eyes. He spent 400+ hours in the studio working on the tracks and written parts for the live shows, unfortunately due to factors beyond his control the whole tour got cancelled at 1 days notice to the horror of everyone involved. Over the last 15 years Pete has made many appearances as an extra/background artiste in TV programmes like Coronation St. Emmerdale/Cold Feet and many more which he enjoys very much, but he got a call in 2007 from Paul Crone at Granada TV to work as Musical Director on a live broadcast called "Tour Of Talent. It was held at North West seaside resorts through the summer of 2007 over 10 days. Pete said Over the 10 days we had 1200 acts from singers/musicians/comedians to complete dance groups performing throughout the day - culminating in a daily final broadcast live on ITV's Granada Reports, It was a fantastic experience to work with such a broad range of talent from the North West of England" In June 2009 he got a call from the Ann Atkinson - Musical Director of the Fron Choir in North Wales, and was asked to play at the National Eisteddfodd of Wales in Bala for the 35 strong Bro Glyndwr male voice choir, this he did and again it was broadcasted on channel S4C TV and after the show the presenters commented on the fantastic sound of the keyboards and likened Pete to Benny from Abba and Rick Wakeman. As well as working solo, Pete has been working with his wife Yvonne in a very successful dance /cabaret duo called SAREMMA since 1995 to date (the name incidentally comes from his daughters Sarah and Emma!). Because of their wide variation of music, the duo perform at many Dinner Dance/Cabaret functions nationwide, and have recently picked up three BEST DUO awards from the 2008 City of Culture - Liverpool. When a promotion company approached them to do 1 of 2 line dancing albums with other well known established country singers their own track of a beautiful waltz ballad called ’Reach’ hit the UK line dancing charts at Number 4. Saremma were also asked by comedian Peter Kay to help out on his 2005 Children In Need video 'Sleep' which he directed and co-starred with Charlene Spiteri from the group Texas. The duo found both him and the production team friendly and very professional.Pete put the finishing touches to his brand new recording studio in 2004 that he has rebuilt since his move to North Wales, PC based hard disk recording is at the heart of the studio with Ketron, Korg, Kurzweil and Yamaha keyboards plus Roland V Drums forming the main midi sounds, along with 24 audio tracks available for vocal and instrument recording. Demand is still high for his quality tracks and arrangements - by fellow musicians, and artistes alike. Over the Last 12 years Pete has worked for various organ and Keyboard Companies demonstrating their latest products at Organ/Keyboard festivals around the UK, He has worked for Ketron,Korg,Orla Direct and Roland UK. Pete is now touring with a great keyboard system - Yamaha Tyros 3 Expanded, Ketron SD1 & Roland PK5 Bass Pedals & continues to wow audiences with his individual style of Organ/Keyboard playing and vocals, he has had some great comments from other keyboard musicians and artistes over the years and he plans to carry on working in the Organ & Keyboard business for many years to come.
Tuesday June 18th. 2013
IAN GRIFFIN It was after the 'live' audience at his first television appearance voted him back for a second appearance that Ian Griffin decided on what he would like to do when he left school. He was only twelve years old at the time and the programme - 'Crackerjack Young Entertainers' on BBC 1 Television. On leaving school, a local keyboard dealer engaged Ian on the 'Youth Opportunities' programme. Several months later, on completion of the scheme, Ian became a self-employed professional - and still is today. Ian's popularity grew at electronic organ festivals and the readers of one keyboard magazine voted him the best player under the age of eighteen. As a freelance player he gave demonstrations for several retail dealers and was invited to attend product seminars by some of the world's leading brand names. The resulting diplomas added to his many other awards for his keyboard skill. Ian plays keyboards in an organ configuration - top manual, lower manual and bass pedals. He decided that this was a wise step forward in view of markets trends and the fact that several well-known manufacturers stopped making portable organs. The only difference with Ian's set up is that there is no cabinet. As for the quality of the sound, many have said that it is far superior to many organs. Ian's performances at electronic organ societies and keyboard clubs are rather unique. They stand apart from most other players because the second half of the concert is devoted to requests that he receives during the interval. The non-stop selection is without the aid of any so-called gimmicks and is always exceptionally well received - often with standing ovations.
Tuesday July 16th. 2013
Tim Flint, born in Belper, Derbyshire in 1964, started playing the organ at the age of twelve, after showing a great interest in music at school, and even playing the drums in the schools orchestra. His keyboard experience started off on a very small chord organ, and he started taking lessons from a local organ teacher. Tim turned out to be a very fast learner, and very soon, his teacher suggested that Tim really needed an instrument with two manuals and pedal board. Tim soon showed a flair for playing, and when his teacher started to take his pupils out to give performances at disabled centres or senior citizens homes, Tim was always there, not only showing a flair for playing, but also communicating with his audience. From there, things very quickly moved on, and after around eighteen months, Tim's teacher said that he really couldn't do any more for him. So over the next few years, as well as graduating through several models of organ, Tim kept developing his playing skills, and style, until he was able (after a couple of "proper jobs") to turn fully professional. He very quickly gained popularity on the organ circuit, and over the years has played at most of the organ clubs/societies around the UK as well as playing at many of the organ festivals, both in the UK, and overseas. Tim is also pleased to say that over the years, he has worked with whom he considers to be "the best", including such names as the late great Bryan Rodwell and Jerry Allen. As well as being one of the busiest travelling organists in the UK, Tim is also an examiner for ICMA (Independent Contemporary Music Awards), and also teaches his own pupils on a one to one basis. In addition to all this, in 1995, he became concert player and demonstrator for the ROLAND ATELIER organs in the UK. For those who haven't had the TIM FLINT 'EXPERIENCE', it really is amazing. Tim isn't just an organist, but also an entertainer, a musician, and a showman, believing that each performance should be 'a show', where the audience can forget their worries for a while, and lose themselves in the evening. As a player, he is excellent, being one of that rare breed that can turn his playing to almost any style: Classical, Orchestral, Jazz, Big Band, Theatre Organ, Electronic Organ, Jazz Organ, Piano, Latin American, and even more modern styles.
As an entertainer, he is larger than life, a big man (standing around 6'2") who over the years has earned himself a reputation for flamboyance, usually seen in his evening performances wearing various sparkling outfits of different styles and colours, flowing capes etc, and his ability to communicate and interact with the audience (not forgetting his very quick wit and humour) is widely recognized, making the whole experience unforgettable.
Tim now travels with a Roland Atelier AT900c. He has eight recordings to date include; Sparkling Contrasts, Too Marvellous For Words, The Show Tunes...And Then Some, Flintasia, Flintastic, Walk Between Raindrops and his latest release which is called Goldrush. In 2001, Tim also started organising his own organ & keyboard festivals, which he is calls "SUPERIOR HOTEL BREAKS WITH TIM FLINT & FRIENDS". These are smaller events, generally taking 100 or so guests, and the emphasis is on a holiday in high quality hotels with lovely surroundings, good food, good service, and of course good music.
Of course, Tim has also become one of the most popular organists in the country, for his playing, his extraordinary flamboyant outfits, and his rapport and quick wit. Audiences immediately warm to his personality, and he even has his own UK fan club. So if you get the chance, why not do yourself a favour sit back and enjoy the big man with big outfits and a big personality.
Tuesday August 20th.. 2013
Kevin Morgan started with the piano at the tender age of three. When, as a choirboy, his voice broke, he was persuaded to try playing the organ instead of singing!
All went well and he played for his first Choral Evensong in Salisbury Cathedral at the age of eleven by which time he was in his first term as a music scholar at secondary school. He took 'O' and 'A' Level Music (amongst others) and passed his Grade Eight Piano, Organ, Singing, Theory and General Musicianship examinations (winning prizes for the highest marks) along with a Performance Diploma at the piano before going up to University College, Durham as an Organ Scholar to read for a degree in music. During his years as a student, he studied the organ with Richard Lloyd and James Lancelot at Durham Cathedral and increased his musical experiences performing, accompanying and directing many diverse and varied musical activities. In 1986, he was appointed organist and choirmaster at Bolton Parish Church, a large cathedral-like building with a notable acoustic and a fine three-manual Hill organ, continuing to study part time on a consultation basis. He supplemented his income by teaching at Bolton School by day and working in clubs at night playing for dancing and backing singers.
At one venue in Bolton a regular member of the audience was Ronald Curtis, owner of the Paramount Organ Studio which housed the Compton Theatre Organs from the Paramount Liverpool and the Regal Gateshead. After two or three visits to the club Kevin plucked up courage and went over to Ron saying that if he was awarding him marks out of ten for his efforts, perhaps he would be so good as to let him know! A great friendship and musical partnership followed. Ron allowed Kevin free access to his Compton organs which was a marvelous experience and one that Kevin is quick to recognize and acknowledge.
Kevin is a prize-winning Fellow of The Royal College of Organists, a Licentiate of The Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music, London, in addition to holding Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees
Tuesday September 17th. 2013
Born in 1968, thirty miles north of Amsterdam in a town called Alkmaar, Dirk enjoyed a secure family life. His father Leen was a painter and decorator and although not a musician himself supported his son during the early stages of his career. Dirk suggests music skipped a generation as his paternal grandfather's hobby was to play violin for the Royal Dutch Orchestra. Dirk believes that he has inherited a sense of theatre and has performing in his blood when he considers family's link with entertainment over the years. His family ensured this was nurtured as live theatre played an important part of Dirk's childhood. Being an only child his parents were able to indulge their son by introducing him to a variety of activities, including visits to the theatre, circus and musicals at a very early age. As early as four-years old Dirk admits to being excited by the applause, lighting effects and audience participation. He can never remember wanting to do anything else except appear in front of the footlight. At first the exact direction he should take was unclear, but he took every opportunity to participate as often as he could in the school theatre productions and musicals by singing and acting. A significant milestone according to Dirk was when he was ten years old and met 'Sinterklaas', the Dutch aquivalent to our Father Christmas. However there is a subtle difference as Sinterklaas meets the children on December 5th to receive their list for gifts, which they hope to receive on Christmas morning. Fortunately Dirk did not change his mind as he requested and got his much wanted Bontempi keyboard. After about a week Dirk's father realised his son was playing 'Jingle Bells', this was followed a few days later by other simple tunes which Dirk had taught himself by ear. A teacher was quickly recruited to encourage the budding musician. After the first month it became apparent to both family and teacher the Bontempi was limiting Dirk's progress which prompted his parents into buying a 'Thomas' organ, introducing him to the delights of two manuals and a pedal board. During those formative years Dirk received lessons from a number of teachers but he considers the two who had the greatest influence were Franz Oudhoff and Peter Rijs. According to Dirk, Peter excelled at jazz and was one of the best concert organists in Holland. In contrast Franz inclined more towards classical organ with only a hint of jazz. At the age of sixteen, Dirk gave his first charity concert, on the occasion he raised money in aid of arthritis sufferers; a condition his late father suffered. Professional concert work quickly followed even though he had not completed his education. The progress he made and the sheer enjoyment of performing live music, plus the audience's appreciation all helped guide him toward a career in music and show business. Having left school at eighteen he went on to study for a Diploma in acting and music. The two-year course involved studying many dimensions of stage work including producing a brochure, acting, stage presentation, facial expression, lighting and many aspects of music. It is this unique training which may have influenced Dirk's style of organ playing and showmanship whether the show is produced for corporal events, societies or festivals. After gaining his diploma he continued to play professionally first using a Technics organ then the Wersi Spectra. In 1989 while using the Wersi Spectra he produced his first album in readiness for his first foreign tour. As the village of Heiloo is twinned with a village in Poland , it was not surprised that they invited him to take his show to Poland. Dirk expressed concern as he recalled the poverty he witnessed in Poland. He remembers having taken gifts of cheese for the villagers, how they would take a small piece of cheese , eat half and put the remainder in a paper tissue for later. When telling me all about his tour he was visible touched by their plight and the hospitality he was given while over there. So much he almost omitted to tell me that he appeared on numerous of shows in theatres and churches as well on Polish Television. After some years and three albums, Dirk changed his Wersi Spectra for a Bohm Diamond organ. By 1995 the Bohm Company in Germany invited him to join the team as a freelance concert artist. At the time the team included Robert Bartha and Mark Shakespeare. It was with great sadness that Dirk recalls the death of Mark and how he personally was affected. Following his visit to Germany that year he continued to work for Bohm alongside Robert. This has given him the opportunity to attend the Frankfurt Music Fair every year, playing as many as six concerts a day and concert tours all over Europe. Like many musicians he remains freelance but in his words he has 'a gentleman's agreement', he will play Bohm exclusively. As a result his career has escalated to include annual concert tours of Belgium, Holland, Italy, Scotland, Wales, Poland, Denmark, Switzerland and the whole of the UK. During his concert in Bournemouth Dirk's informed the audience that he does not use sequencing and relies totally on a live performance using only his hands and feet with the addition of some rhythms.
Following his disclosure we discussed his views on this very controversial subject. He believes to use pre-recorded backing or sequencing to enhance a performance 'in not honest'. He suggested he may be 'old fashioned', but he prefers to rely on his interpretation and the way he plays the music which he hopes is enhanced by his appearance through style of dress, body language and expression. Talking to Dirk' one can tell he has very strong views on the issue of multi-tracking, his concerns appear to be that audiences may be fooled into believing the artist is producing the music themselves; when in effect they are using in some instances their own performance, without admitting the performance is not totally live. According to Dirk he was originally a very shy and private person and to this day he remains grateful for his father's encouragement and the rigorous training, which helped him overcome his inhibitions enabling him to appear on stage as a very confident artiste. Nevertheless he has retained a more serious side as he told me he is an avid reader , especially books on religion and special meanings in life. As this is not Dirk's first concert tour in the UK we were able to compare the differences between the organ scene over here and in Holland. He considers we are fortunate in having the advantage of organ societies, and festivals, as there is no equivalent in Holland. It has to be said that a show is never entirely a one-man affair. As an international artist Dirk travels across Europe with the support of the Bohm team and is certainly no stranger to London Heathrow!! He must fly to various European cities about 20 times at least in a year ! Dirk comments 'a musician is never ready as there is always much more to learn, musicians should listen to as many other non-organ artistes and watch as many concerts and shows as possible.
His impression is there is a need to know the story behind the music to understand the feelings the composer is trying to portray. A further suggestion he makes is the artiste should listen to their public and combine what the audience want to hear with what they as an artiste enjoy playing. He considers a potential artiste should try to create a style of their own and avoid stealing others' style. How to achieve an individual style? - Dirk concludes it is achieved through the individual's own experience of life together with personality and musical ability. When completing a new song Dirk prefers to ask a friend rather than a fellow musician for their opinion as he reckons the view of a member of the public is more in keeping with the expected response of an audience. Besides playing, Dirk loves to produce in the studio. He has produced quite a few solo albums for artists. He also produced the music for the film 'Ophelia'. His fans call him 'King of Bohm organs' and 'a superstar of the electronic organ'.
Tuesday October 15th. 2013
NICHOLAS MARTIN His earliest recollection of becoming fascinated by organ music was in 1969 when during a family visit to Blackpool he overheard the Wurlitzer organ being played in the Tower Ballroom by the legendary - Reginald Dixon. This clearly was a defining moment for Nick as thereafter it became his driving ambition to perform at this famous venue on the amazing Wurlitzer organ. Shortly after that visit he was suitably inspired to commence piano lessons in Barlestone (Leics.) - where he was born. Interestingly the teacher was the same lady who had, many years earlier, taught Nick's Dad the piano too. She professed a great future lay ahead for 'the young Martin' as a keyboard player! After two years of piano tuition he became interested in the organ - following a visit to a family friend's home - who owned a Hammond M-100. So Nick's parents, Janet and Roy, invested in a Hammond organ for him and from then on he really didn't look back. He entered local music, talent shows and came away with several cups and trophies for his playing prowess. Around this time his organ teacher claimed she couldn't help him anymore - so he began to teach himself. Nick's Dad Roy drafted a letter which was sent to the management of Blackpool Tower in Jan. 1981. In it he explained of his son's ambition to play the Tower Ballroom Wurlitzer organ. Incredibly, Nick's dream was realised in March 1981, when he was accepted as a member of the team of organists. His ambition was achieved at 17 years of age! He subsequently played there seven days a week, on the famous Wurlitzer organ, during the 1981 and 1982 seasons. So it was that in April 1983 Nick started another phase of his music career by becoming the resident theatre organist at the new "Turner's" Entertainments Centre. The organ he was to play for so many years was one of the finest ever to be shipped here from the U.S. Wurlitzer factory. The organ was originally installed in the Paramount, later Odeon, Cinema Newcastle in 1931 - but acquired for duties at "Turner's" in 1982. It was to be a long and fruitful partnership at the Northamptonshire venue because Nick continued working there right up until the centre closed in 2004. Whilst there Nick managed to record thirty albums on the Wurlitzer - starting with L.P's and cassettes in 1983 and progressing to CD's in 1993. Many of these recordings became huge sellers in their time - not only through being sold at "Turner's", but in high street stores too. Indeed it was a sad day in July 2004 when Nigel Turner decided to close his business down. He chose, at the age of sixty, to retire and all of the contents of "Turner's" were sold on to another family from Bedfordshire - the Saunders's. Now the old "Turner's" site is a housing estate at Queen Eleanor Vale, Newport Pagnell Rd, Wootton, Northampton. Following the close of "Turner's in 2004 Nick was asked to go to Wicksteed Park at Kettering, Northants. - to become the Musical Director there. There was no pipe installed at Wicksteed, so he used his own Technics electronic organ to provide all the suitable musical accompaniment for the various shows they did. He remained here as M.D. until December 2008. Since that time Nick has been happy to perform all around the country for the many organ clubs and societies. He does around 100 of these per annum as well as recording one or two new albums each year. He has also now recorded six DVD albums - one on electronics, and the others on pipe organs. One of Nick's annual highlights is to visit the Kirk of Dunedin in Florida, U.S.A. He first visited there in 1985 to perform concerts and has returned virtually every year since. February 2012 marks his 27th trip to entertain his American fans. In 1995 the Nicholas Martin Fan Club was formed. This came about due to many requests from his friend's and fans. Members receive a quarterly newsletter which keeps them notified of his playing whereabouts, family information, new recordings - and news of the Martin Home events. These are essentially fundraising events for the charity "Miracles-to-believe-in (see below). Current Fan Club membership sits at approximately 600 people. Nick and his wife Marianne have been together since 1993. They have two sons - James and Joshua - and live in Markfield, Leicestershire. Both James and Joshua are afflicted with the condition known as 'autism'. This severely restricts their general learning ability, social interaction and everyday skills. Joshua has no speech either. Both boys attend a highly regarded 'special needs' college in Hinckley (Leics.) - the Dorothy Goodman College. As a result of finding out their two boys were autistic Nick and Marianne helped to co-found a charity - "Miracles-to-Believe-in". This is an East Midlands based charity which helps children and families affected by this lifelong condition. The charity was founded in 2001 and achieved charitable status in 2003. To date over £200,000 has been raised to help fight and battle against autism in the East Midlands area.
For further information on the charity visit the website www.miracles-to-believe-in.co.uk
Tuesday November 19th 2013 - Charity Concert
ElLIZABETH HARRISON Elizabeth greets everyone with a smile and is a bubbly, friendly Lancashire lady who has lived on a working dairy farm in Chorley for more than 28 years.. For many years she has travelled all sides of the UK playing for organ and keyboard clubs and has built up a first class reputation for playing high quality 'live' performances without music. In addition, Elizabeth plays regularly for ballroom sequence dancing. She was originally trained in theatre organ style by teacher Jack Winston of Chorley, and this shows in her playing. She has committed hundreds of pieces of music to her memory and often plays all night without any sheet music. Elizabeth also enjoys playing mighty theatre organs and is not afraid to use the instrument to its full potential. It has often been commented that Elizabeth has a unique style and she has excellent musical feeling. Her concerts are performed and presented to a very professional standard and always very humorous. Elizabeth often brings along samples of her life at home on the farm to share with audiences and she has been known to play for a few minutes in large green Wellington boots! Elizabeth’s very varied programme includes military marches, big band, orchestral arrangements, novelty tunes and much more. Elizabeth is enthusiastic, practical and down to earth. She is a qualified signwriter, graphic designer and gardener. Over the years, Elizabeth has collected advertising memorabilia, in particular the famous flour grader by Homepride, Fred. She runs a collectors club for him. Elizabeth also collects small, compact and vintage tractors and enjoys showing them at local vintage exhibitions. Elizabeth loves gardening and being outdoors and enjoys having a go at skiing once in a while. 11 years ago, Elizabeth achieved her class 1 heavy-goods licence, something she had always aspired to do, and yes she did pass first time!. Elizabeth has passed her PCV coach driving test and is now a qualified professional coach driver although she only intends to use the licence every now and then.
Tuesday December 17th. 2013
Andrew Nix born 22nd August 1968 just outside Selby, North Yorkshire has established himself on the organ circuit not only as a musician but also as an entertainer. His varied musical repertoire along with his Yorkshire humour has made him one of the country’s favourite performers. It was when Andrew reached the age of ten that his interest in organs became apparent. His mother had an organ at home and Andrew sat down and learnt several Christmas carols (even though it was in the middle of summer). His parents saw the potential and arranged lessons for him. Although he was taught by two teachers (one being classical) he soon developed his own style. Shortly after leaving school Andrew was offered three nights a week playing in a local club where he accompanied artistes and played for dancing. This ‘training’ proved priceless as at 17 years old he was appointed Organist & Musical Director for a Theatre Group performing at Butlins, Barry Island. Andrew thoroughly enjoyed this position as he was gaining experience and confidence. After three further seasons with Butlins and one for Haven Holidays Andrew became fully freelance as he was increasingly in demand for concerts and dances nationwide on both Theatre and Electronic organs. In May 2000 Andrew started performing on a Roland Atelier and now currently tours with the fantastic AT80-SL as one of Roland UK’s (Freelance) Artistes. Andrew fell in love with the richness of the Atelier producing crystal clear sounds perfect for his wide range of styles. The audiences are enthralled by the range of sounds and are stunned by the truly authentic Theatre organ sounds which are an asset to Andrew’s programme. From Ballads to Latin, Marches, to Musicals, Andrew performs music to suit all tastes played in a refreshing style and presented with his own brand of light hearted humour. Andrew is one of the busiest performers on the circuit but still plays for dances, accompanies cabaret shows and even squeezes in appearances overseas. This lifestyle has given him the opportunity to work with many cabaret names. Still living in the Selby area Andrew enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He and Lisa married in 1993 and have three lovely daughters, Stacey, Melissa and Ashleigh.
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