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Mander Organs

Celebrities As Organists


MusingMuso

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I don't know too many celebrities, and I don't feel deprived; though I once got one of those "if looks could kill" glares from Jose Lawrence, when I gave a her a light and almost set fire to her.

 

I also met the late Kenny Everett, George Michael, "Boy" George, Andy Bell ("Erasure") under varied or strange circumstances, but other than putting Peter Cook up for the night when he collapsed in a drunken heap, I could count the rest on the fingers of one hand.

 

However, I see that organists now have their very own celebrity, and I am not referring to John "Boggy" Marsh on the Wogan Show or "Mr Organist Entertains," Nigel Ogden.

 

No.....I give you.......ladies and gentlemen.....the incomparible and larger-than-life....Jo Brand.

 

Jo Brand is taking organ lessons, and is known to love the music of Bach especially.

 

She's the only celebrity/organist of whom I am aware, since the demise of the great Dudley Moor.

 

Are there others, I wonder?

 

If Jo Brand gets good enough, perhaps I could arrange for her to give a Bach concert at church, and I could do the comedy interludes.

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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I don't know too many celebrities, and I don't feel deprived; though I once got one of those "if looks could kill" glares from Jose Lawrence, when I gave a her a light and almost set fire to her.

 

I also met the late Kenny Everett, George Michael, "Boy" George, Andy Bell ("Erasure") under varied or strange circumstances, but other than putting Peter Cook up for the night when he collapsed in a drunken heap, I could count the rest on the fingers of one hand.

 

However, I see that organists now have their very own celebrity, and I am not referring to John "Boggy" Marsh on the Wogan Show or "Mr Organist Entertains," Nigel Ogden.

 

No.....I give you.......ladies and gentlemen.....the incomparible and larger-than-life....Jo Brand.

 

Jo Brand is taking organ lessons, and is known to love the music of Bach especially.

 

She's the only celebrity/organist of whom I am aware, since the demise of the great Dudley Moor.

 

Are there others, I wonder?

 

If Jo Brand gets good enough, perhaps I could arrange for her to give a Bach concert at church, and I could do the comedy interludes.

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

 

"Are there others, I wonder?"

 

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards - see http://www.llanellicommunityheritage.org/b...lue_Plaques.htm complete with photos at bottom of page.

 

G

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It's all part of a BBC "reality" show where various "celebs" learn an instrument. It wasn't clear on the press release I saw if it was pipe organ or any other sort e.g. Hammond

 

She's the only celebrity/organist of whom I am aware, since the demise of the great Dudley Moor.

And his brother, Ilkley...

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Yes, I'd forgotten about Dudley Moore. I only ever heard him play (a toaster.....) once, accompanying a children's choir in some Willcocks arrangement on "Wogan". I'm aware that he was a talented musician, ex-Magdalen organ scholar, etc, but his musical fame rests largely on his piano playing.

 

Do any other contributors have knowledge of his organ playing? Did he go down the ARCO/FRCO route?

 

G

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I'm not sure if he would count as a true celebrity, but one of the current presenters of BBC's Blue Peter is a very competent musician and I caught part of an episode a while back which had him playing the organ in one of the Royal Palaces - might even have been Buckingham Palace thinking about it.

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She's the only celebrity/organist of whom I am aware, since the demise of the great Dudley Moor.

 

Are there others, I wonder?

 

Well Huw Edwards has shown his prowess on Songs of Praise, and also several times on programmes he's fronted for BBC Wales. The last one a few weeks ago saw him playing the Compton in the Jewins Welsh Church, London. In the 70s he played in churches in and around Llanelli.

 

If you're prepared to accept minor regional celebrities then BBC Wales itself has a news presenter - Jamie Owen - who has also been seen playing the occasional hymn.

 

The most famous person I can think of is David Hyde-Pierce who played Niles Crane in 'Frasier'. He is apparently an organist and - if Hector Olivera's website is anything to go by - a big fan of Mr. Olivera.

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I'm sure he's funnier than Jo Brand.

 

I suppose if I don't mention the late Sir Edward Heath someone else will.

 

======================

 

Yes, Ted Heath qualified I guess, as a career politician rather than as a musician.

 

I think Jo Brand is very funny; especially when she appears on those up-market game-shows as a panelist.

 

Using a spot of parody, I think Jo Brand would bring something new to organ-recitals.

 

"Unless you saw Hattie Jaques riding a bike, I bet you never thought you'd see a fat cow like me pedalling so fast "

 

:rolleyes:

 

 

MM

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Jo Brand is taking organ lessons, and is known to love the music of Bach especially.

 

She's the only celebrity/organist of whom I am aware, since the demise of the great Dudley Moor.

 

Are there others, I wonder?

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

 

Richard Ingrams (of 'Private Eye' and 'The Oldie') is 'a part-time organist of many years standing (or sitting)' at his local church.

 

If musicians celebrated for reasons other than being organists are eligible: Sir Andrew Davies, Sir Peter Pears (both were Oxbridge organ scholars) and Denis Brain (who played the organ in the Philharmonia/Karajan recording of Mascagni's Easter Hymn).

 

Fictional celebrities: Captain Nemo and ('Under the Greenwood Tree') Fancy Day.

 

Regards.

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Fictional celebrities: Captain Nemo and ('Under the Greenwood Tree') Fancy Day.

 

Regards.

 

=======================

 

Well, the "doyen" of fictional organists had to be Vincent Price playing the part of "The Abominable Dr.Phibes." in that wonderful art-deco film-set, replete with Compton "jelly-mould" console and a fictional daughter who resembled Cruella da Ville.

 

The worrying thing is, we all KNOW an organist like that: you know, rather intense with a psychopathic leer.

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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It's all part of a BBC "reality" show where various "celebs" learn an instrument. It wasn't clear on the press release I saw if it was pipe organ or any other sort e.g. Hammond

And his brother, Ilkley...

 

====================

 

I am looking at Ilkley Moor as I write this.

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

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=======================

 

Well, the "doyen" of fictional organists had to be Vincent Price playing the part of "The Abominable Dr.Phibes." in that wonderful art-deco film-set, replete with Compton "jelly-mould" console and a fictional daughter who resembled Cruella da Ville.

 

The worrying thing is, we all KNOW an organist like that: you know, rather intense with a psychopathic leer.

 

:rolleyes:

 

MM

 

What about the naked Terry Jones in the Python sketch "Blackmail"? <_<

 

Peter

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Richard Ingrams (of 'Private Eye' and 'The Oldie') is 'a part-time organist of many years standing (or sitting)' at his local church.

 

If musicians celebrated for reasons other than being organists are eligible: Sir Andrew Davies, Sir Peter Pears (both were Oxbridge organ scholars) and Denis Brain (who played the organ in the Philharmonia/Karajan recording of Mascagni's Easter Hymn).

 

Fictional celebrities: Captain Nemo and ('Under the Greenwood Tree') Fancy Day.

 

Regards.

 

Denis Brain was also featured on the orrrrgan in the very wonderful Hoffnung recordings of the 1950's RFH concerts.

 

Recent mention has been made of John Thaw, who looked awfully like he was actually playing in one or two roles.

 

I happened to catch a bit of two things in the past week - can't remember which was which - one was Jam and Jerusalem and the other was Calendar Girls - both had organs featured in them. If I remember rightly Calendar Girls was a genuine player (who was holding a conversation while playing).

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Denis Brain was also featured on the orrrrgan in the very wonderful Hoffnung recordings of the 1950's RFH concerts.

Ah yes, playing the RFH instrument in Malcolm Arnold's "A Grand Grand Overture" (the one with the vacuum cleaners, floor polisher and rifles!)

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Joanna Lumley plays the organ in Jam and Jerusalem, playing Nimrod and accompanying 'All things bright and beautiful', both in the first ever episode. Trevor Peacock (as Jim Trott) plays the organ in the vicar of dibley

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Inverting the subject slightly, as organists tend to do, there are also organists who have played the part of celebrities or make it into feature films.

 

For example, in the film "The Man who knew too much," (1956), (Alfred Hitchcock), starring James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda de Banzie, Bernard Miles and Ralph Truman; there is a scene shot inside the Royal Albert Hall, with Sir George Thalben-Ball playing the organ.

 

Then, in the documentary-film "The Diary of Anna Magdalena Bach" (1967), Gustav Leonhardt, as J.S.Bach himself plays various organs, directs choirs and conducts orchestras.

 

Then there is an opening sequence in the film "The Bostonians," (1984) starring Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Tandy and Christopher Reeve. The opening music, on film, is played by some obscure English organist or other, improvising on the organ of St.Augustine's, Kilburn. I feel sure that Nigel Allcoat would know something about this.

 

However, back to fantasy! My personal favourite is the film "Pirates of the Caribbean" (2006) in which Davy Jones, of locker fame, is seen playing an organ with eight octopus-like arms!

 

MM

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Mr Bouffant : It's all part of a BBC "reality" show where various "celebs" learn an instrument. It wasn't clear on the press release I saw if it was pipe organ or any other sort e.g. Hammond"

 

Since Jo Brand's tutor is Hilary Davan Wetton, I think we can safely assume that it won't be a Hammond.

;)

 

H

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Guest Barry Oakley
Yes, I'd forgotten about Dudley Moore. I only ever heard him play (a toaster.....) once, accompanying a children's choir in some Willcocks arrangement on "Wogan". I'm aware that he was a talented musician, ex-Magdalen organ scholar, etc, but his musical fame rests largely on his piano playing.

 

Do any other contributors have knowledge of his organ playing? Did he go down the ARCO/FRCO route?

 

G

 

I have never forgotten about Dudley Moore and well remember a BBC documentary featuring him which largely focussed on his ability as a classical musician. It was probably 40 years ago, more or less, when the programme was screened and DM showed he was a fantastic organist. I cannot accurately remember on what organ he played, but seem to think it was a substantial 4-decker. Surely this monochrome programme must be somewhere amongst the BBC's archives and would be well worth screening again.

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Then there is an opening sequence in the film "The Bostonians," (1984) starring Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Tandy and Christopher Reeve. The opening music, on film, is played by some obscure English organist or other, improvising on the organ of St.Augustine's, Kilburn. I feel sure that Nigel Allcoat would know something about this.

 

MM

 

I'm not sure I knew who or where the opening sequeance was filmed, but will look again as I have it on Betamax somewhere!

 

The opening music, wasn't an improvisation though. It was a set of variations on America (or as we know it God save the Queen). It may well have been the Rinck version or something similar, or even specially written. Likewise I'll check against my Rinck score.

 

Jonathan ;)

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I have never forgotten about Dudley Moore and well remember a BBC documentary featuring him which largely focussed on his ability as a classical musician. It was probably 40 years ago, more or less, when the programme was screened and DM showed he was a fantastic organist. I cannot accurately remember on what organ he played, but seem to think it was a substantial 4-decker. Surely this monochrome programme must be somewhere amongst the BBC's archives and would be well worth screening again.

 

 

I remember reading an interview with Bernard Rose regarding Dudley Moore's time as organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. In this he was described as one of the very best scholars the college had ever had.

 

I love his original music, especially his soundtrack to the (original) film 'Bedazzled' which includes (amongst other things) a couple of fake 'Tope of the Pops' items, the second of which prefigures punk by several years. I know some of his jazz pieces have been published in solo piano form, does anyone know of anything else that was ever brought out? There exists at least one serious orchestral piece which was specially performed for another TV documentary....anyone know more? I have also heard tell of the complete soundtrack for a film which fell by the wayside and was never used.

 

The point is, clown, actor, scatalogical comedian etc. aside (all of which aspects of his working life I have thoroughly enjoyed), he had an enormous and unique musical gift - he was not just highly skilled but seriously creative.

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