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Carlo Curley RIP


wolsey

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Is there something wrong with 'God's own country', huh?

 

We have the best organs OF COURSE, the best scenery, the best abbeys and cathedrals AND, were it a separate country, it would have been 10th in the Olympic Games!

 

Joking apart, it IS strange how people find a place and then feel at home there, and I suppose we should be honoured that Carlo loved being here so much.

 

I've never been to Pershore in my life, and I am looking forward to attending the memorial service, all being well.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

Who's joking? What you say is absolutely correct.

 

Two Yorkshiremen; and no mention of cricket?

 

Amazing! :)

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Carlo has not owned an organ for many years - at least an Allen touring one anyway. Allen would hire out an organ to any venue (that Carlo was performing at) which was described as his organ - of late its been a Quantum 370 (3M, 58 stops). Its this organ that will be used at his Memorial Service. I assume that they kept the same instrument for his own use each time although I am not sure whether it was exclusively for him!

When I hosted him in 2001 I enquired about the cost of having the Allen but the cost was prohibitive due to it having to cross the Irish Sea - we hired a 4M Phoenix locally (at a fraction of the cost) which worked fantastically well and which he happened to rather enjoy, spending the entire afternoon playing it which I believe he would never do on an organ he didn't like.

 

Thanks for that D O, I think that the important thing was to gain sponsorship for the cost of hiring the organs, which I believe was the case when CC performed on two seperate occasions at my local venue. Without this sponsorship, the cost would have been prohibitive.

Maybe this is the way forward for us to give enthusiasts the opportunity to hear pipe organs in secular locations such as Town Halls and other Municipal buildings.

 

I have spent a few minutes browsing 'Battle of the Organs/Carlo Curly/Allen Touring Organs' and was very interested to find the following: - I quote CC from the Lehigh Valley Newspaper, The Morning Call, May 3rd, 1996.

"You worry about technique, you worry if the pistons are right, you worry about mixing all the colors.

I'm simply the manipulator of a device that makes music." end of quote.

 

And also, the end part of the article on Norwich Cathedral's web-site announcing CC's Organ Spectacular at East Harling, 21st July, 2012.

I quote CC "I would never say that even the latest, state of the art, digital organs, such as the one I take to pipeless venues, can replicate the sound of a magnificent cathedral organ, but the classical organist who does not at least investigate the new technology will not have a job, because the cost of pipe organ restoration is becoming prohibitive.

I greatly respect what has gone before, but as this is now the 21st century, anyone who declares that we classical organists must only play on organs with mechanical action, such as those built in the time of Bach, can't see the wood for the trees!" end of quote.

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Who's joking? What you say is absolutely correct.

 

Yes, I do agree, York, Leeds, Halifax, Ampleforth,Doncaster............. to name just a few but it has to be said that here in Lancashire we have all these rolled into one.................. Liverpool!!!! :)

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Two Yorkshiremen; and no mention of cricket?

 

Amazing! :)

 

---------------------------------

 

 

I fear that we are going terribly off-topic, but I suspect that Carlo would have loved the banter.

 

I regret to inform you that my father's cousin was the Yorkshire Cricket Coach and wore the England cap. He taught the likes of Ray Illingworth and played alngside the likes of Freddie Truman. For my part, I grew up hating the game with a real passion; surrounded as I was by flanelled fools wearing cream sweaters, who would waste their Friday evening rubbing linseed oil into a silly piece of wood.

 

For my part, I discovered two things as a teenager. The first was playing the organ, and the second was motor-sport; both of which enabled me to remain firmly seated at all times.

 

Getting tentatively back on topic, I do recall Carlo exploding with mock outrage when I suggested that baseball was a girl's game we called "Rounders."

 

Best,

 

MM

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...I suggested that baseball was a girl's game we called "Rounders."

 

Oh, that won't do, MM! Continuing with the recent Lancastrian theme, I'd have to respond that there's nowt wrong wi' owt what mitherin' clutterbucks don't barley grummit.

 

Well, I'm not at all sure I used that properly, and in any case I'm all out of mock outrage in defense of baseball. While it is fun at the ball park or in the movies (e.g. Bull Durham, which was filmed hereabouts), I find baseball rather dull to follow on TV or radio. And so, back to Carlo...

 

I only had a chance to hear CC in person once, at a concert on an indifferent hybrid instrument, but I found myself wishing he would give more recitals in the area. My impression was of a big man - physically, yes, but big of heart and positively bursting with love for the instrument. Part of his recital was fairly straightforward: Bach P+F in D, Dupre P+F in g, but I recall that later he hooked in some interesting MIDI sounds to the console and used them to great effect in a transcription of Waldteufel's Skater's Waltz. On the "Biggs-Fox" scale he definitely tilted the needle well over, but even when he played big he did so in a way which was tasteful and faithful to the music.

 

As an ambassador for two sometimes tarnished brands--organs and Americans--he was just the ticket. (I nearly wrote "Yanks", but since Carlo hailed from North Carolina I think he would rightfully have haunted me for such a mistake.)

 

RIP Carlo Curley.

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Yes, I do agree, York, Leeds, Halifax, Ampleforth,Doncaster............. to name just a few but it has to be said that here in Lancashire we have all these rolled into one.................. Liverpool!!!! :)

 

Presumably you are referring to St George's Hall. I went to see Carlo there once, a long time ago, participating in a 'Battle of the Organs' ( the Willis monster v. his Allen touring organ).

 

The Willis won!

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Presumably you are referring to St George's Hall. I went to see Carlo there once, a long time ago, participating in a 'Battle of the Organs' ( the Willis monster v. his Allen touring organ).

 

The Willis won!

 

Yes, but only due to the fact ,I think, that the Allen he used at that location was a fairly modest instrument of 2 manuals. Can remember C C and NR " arguing" over who had the rights over the Sinfonietta as their " theme tune "

 

The actual instrument I was referring to is The Monster On The Hill; which incidentally I heard Richard Lea play today. His playing of the " ad Nos " on the partially restored instrument was truly spectacular as well as frightening :)

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Yes, but only due to the fact ,I think, that the Allen he used at that location was a fairly modest instrument of 2 manuals. Can remember C C and NR " arguing" over who had the rights over the Sinfonietta as their " theme tune "

 

The actual instrument I was referring to is The Monster On The Hill; which incidentally I heard Richard Lea play today. His playing of the " ad Nos " on the partially restored instrument was truly spectacular as well as frightening :)

 

Yes, that's good as well. It can certainly make its presence felt!

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Oh, that won't do, MM! Continuing with the recent Lancastrian theme, I'd have to respond that there's nowt wrong wi' owt what mitherin' clutterbucks don't barley grummit.

 

Well, I'm not at all sure I used that properly, and in any case I'm all out of mock outrage in defense of baseball. While it is fun at the ball park or in the movies (e.g. Bull Durham, which was filmed hereabouts), I find baseball rather dull to follow on TV or radio. And so, back to Carlo...

 

I only had a chance to hear CC in person once, at a concert on an indifferent hybrid instrument, but I found myself wishing he would give more recitals in the area. My impression was of a big man - physically, yes, but big of heart and positively bursting with love for the instrument. Part of his recital was fairly straightforward: Bach P+F in D, Dupre P+F in g, but I recall that later he hooked in some interesting MIDI sounds to the console and used them to great effect in a transcription of Waldteufel's Skater's Waltz. On the "Biggs-Fox" scale he definitely tilted the needle well over, but even when he played big he did so in a way which was tasteful and faithful to the music.

 

As an ambassador for two sometimes tarnished brands--organs and Americans--he was just the ticket. (I nearly wrote "Yanks", but since Carlo hailed from North Carolina I think he would rightfully have haunted me for such a mistake.)

 

RIP Carlo Curley.

 

 

----------------------------------------

 

 

 

I suspect that Virgil Fox was the greater showman, but Carlo was the greater musician of the two. That stated, Carlo certainly knew how to work an audience in his earlier days. There was something rather fun about clapping along to Bach's 'Jig Fugue' or Carlo getting everyone to take out their bunches of keys and rattle them in time, while he played Leroy Anderson's 'Sleigh ride'. (The latter is a very neat trick, which works superbly). I can also tell you that Carlo was a truly superb accompanist, and this much was obvious to anyone who ever attended his annual Christmas Concert, which he did for free at St Paul's, Hammersmith, and which included Christmas choral items beautifully sung and arranged.

 

I'm not sure that Carlo brought anything unique to British audiences, because long before him, there were organists such as Reginald Porter-Brown and Quentin Maclean, who at the flick of a switch, could turn from light music to classical music. Others included Reginald Foort, George Blackmore, Norman Cocker and Bill Davies; some of them fine pianists as well as organists. In America, the "Boston Pops" concerts and a brace of seriously talented theatre-organists achieved much the same thing. Carlo's unique contribution to organ concerts (as opposed to recitals), was to break down barriers by widening the musical vista in a very public way, whereas previously, there was only light music and classical music; normally separated by the glass ceiling between 'low brow' and 'high brow'. He was the organ equivalent to "Friday night is music night" on Radio 2, but equally significantly, he demonstrated that, even in a church, it was possible to have fun.

 

Much as Carlo was an unashamed Anglophile, I think that every considerable inch of him remained very American, for not only did he have a very wide taste in music which ranged from Bach to Bernstein, he also delighted in bringing joy to people at whatever level.In that respect, he was not a million miles away from Dolly Parton, of whom it is said, "Sings to people, rather than at people." Carlo demonstrated that same, very American combination of easy, self-assured charm and absolute professionalism, which enabled him to bear-hug a whole audience, in spite of lengthy journeys and living out of a suitcase very often. Big-hearted is the perfect description for a remarkable phenomenon in the organ-world, and that's why we've lost a good friend rather than just another organist.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Those on Facebook should request to join the 'Carlo Curley Memoriam Group' for a scan of the order of the service and other contributions. By all accounts, Carlo was given a splendid send-off in a packed abbey.

 

Music details are below. The service was led by the Vicar of Pershore, the Rev Kenneth Crawford, who also gave the address. Tributes were given by Nelson Barden and Paul Vaughan. Lessons were read by Selwyn Jones and the Rev Paul Andrew. Prayers were led by Rev Canon Timothy Lipscomb, Vicar of Preston. The interment of ashes took place in the Abbey's Memorial Garden immediately after the service in the church.

 

Played before the service by Keith Hearnshaw

Prelude & Fugue in A minor BWV 543 (J S Bach)

Chorale Prelude on ‘Eventide’ (Parry)

Nimrod (Elgar)

 

Hymn: O praise ye the Lord (Organist, Colin Walsh)

 

I hear the welcome voice

Cannock Chase Orpheus Male Voice Choir

Alan Jones, director; Colin Walsh, organist

 

How lovely are thy dwellings (Brahms)

Choir: Voces Assumptionis

Alex Crawford, director; Colin Walsh, organist

 

Hymn: Abide with me (Organist, Keith Hearnshaw)

 

Interlude: Sarabande from Partita in A minor BWV 1013 (J S Bach)

Nicholas Daniel - oboe

 

In Paradisum from Requiem (Duruflé)

Choir: Voces Assumptionis

Alex Crawford, director; Colin Walsh, organist

 

Hymn: The day thou gavest (Organist, Michael Pegg)

 

Hymn: Mine eyes have seen (Organist, Colin Walsh)

Prelude & Fugue in G BWV 541 (J S Bsch)

 

INTERMENT

 

Ar Hyd y Nos (Boulton)

Cannock Chase Orpheus Male Voice Choir

 

The Lord’s Prayer (Duruflé)

Choir: Voces Assumptionis

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Those interested in Carlo's memorial service but who were unable to attend last Friday might be interested in purchasing a CD of the event which I recorded. Inevitably it has had to be slightly abridged as the service lasted just over 2 hours, but the feeling of the event will be carefully retained. CDs cost £15 each plus P&P of £2 regardless of quantity to UK addresses - quotations will be given for overseas postage. Please email me directly for information via adrian@acclaimproductions.co.uk for payment information and ordering instructions.

 

Adrian Lucas

Acclaim Productions

Worcester

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