Three organ recitals boast historic instrument

John Mann
John Mann
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Brighton Dome hosts a run of three organ recitals this spring, featuring internationally-renowned and local organists Michael Wooldridge, Michael Maine and John Mann.

The concerts will be performed on Brighton Dome Concert Hall’s very own historic instrument, offering audiences a rare chance to hear the venue’s 1936 tailor-made Hill, Norman & Beard dual-purpose concert organ.

Spokesman Chris Challis said: “The organ found fame in the early 1940s courtesy of the Wonder Boy Organist, Brightonian Douglas Reeve – whose Pack Up Your Troubles shows were the hottest ticket in town. The venue’s weekly variety shows, where Reeve and the organ were often the top-billed acts, has since been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest seaside variety show having run for more than 1,600 performances.

“A large, four manual classical organ, with conventional great, swell, solo and accompaniment keyboards and 42 rows of pipes in four chambers, the organ has many special effect stops, such as orchestral bells, marimba, harp, bird whistles and sleigh bells.

“For the first in this series of three recitals (Monday, January 19), Michael Maine presents a special programme of classical compositions. Moving to the Brighton area in the 1970s he quickly became established as a choir trainer and organist. A former director of music at St Paul’s, West Street, he is probably best known locally as the organist and director of All Saints’ Hove (where he presided over the great 1905 Hill organ), and director of music at St Christopher’s School, Hove, both posts he held for nearly 30 years.”

Michael Wooldridge heads to the venue for the second recital (February 2) to perform some of the great show tunes of our times, from big band favourites to musical theatre. A firm favourite in concert at organ societies, he is the electronic organ tutor for Sussex University and principal tutor at the Rye Wurlitzer Academy.

The third and final concert (March 2) sees Brightonian John Mann revive a bygone era of music hall and light entertainment music in The John Mann Music Show.

“An early enthusiasm for the piano coupled with training at Brighton School of Drama has ensured Mann’s concerts are not only about the music; tunes are interwoven with John’s friendly banter and natural flair for comedy,” Chris said.

“Having released more than 40 CDs of music and a regular at the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing – where John recently embarked on his 34th summer season – John’s love of the organ came from watching Douglas Reeve at Brighton Dome as a child.”

Tickets on 01273 709709 or brightondome.org.