Organ enthusiast makes pilgrimage to Brighton Dome
18 Jan 2013
A concert organist is to travel over 400 miles to play Brighton Dome Concert Hall’s historic 1936 tailor-made Hill, Norman & Beard dual-purpose concert organ.
79-year old Dave Davies – an organ enthusiast for over 40 years – is to make the journey from Dunbar, Scotland to the south coast on Monday 21 January 2012.
Davies, a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music who holds a professional diploma for church organists by the Royal College of Organists (ARCO), has travelled the nation playing some of the country’s most loved organs including the famous Wurlitzer at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. He heads to the city to pay homage to the man who made Brighton Dome’s orchestra so famous – Douglas Reeve.
Described as the “Wonder Boy Organist”, Brightonian Douglas Reeve‘s Pack Up Your Troubles shows were the hottest ticket in town. From the 1940’s for nearly fifty years, Reeve would wow capacity crowds at Brighton Dome’s weekly variety shows, where he and the organ were often the top-billed acts.
These performances have since been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest seaside variety show, having run for over 1600 performances. Davies’s pilgrimage to Brighton comes some fifty years since he last visited the city, where he met Douglas Reeve.
“Douglas had such a personality – we shook hands and I said I was a church organist, not an entertainment organist like he was. He was fantastic, and what musicianship he had! How he handled that instrument just amazed me,” Davies explains.
“I listened to all his broadcasts and bought all of his records. When I turned the radio on and heard Pack Up Your Troubles – his signature tune – the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. I am so excited to play the organ that Douglas Reeve made famous. Playing it will bring back so many memories.”
A large, four manual classical organ, with conventional Great, Swell, Solo and Accompaniment keyboards and 42 rows of pipes in four chambers, Brighton Dome’s instrument also has many special effect stops, such as orchestral bells, marimba, harp, bird whistles and sleigh bells.
Davies’s visit comes on the eve of the first of three special organ recitals at Brighton Dome this Spring (Tuesday 22 January, Tuesday 5 March, Tuesday 2 April, 3pm). Featuring internationally renowned and local organists Richard Hills, Michael Wooldridge and Michael Maine, the concerts will feature everything from the great show tunes of our times to classical compositions and will offer audiences a rare chance to experience the versatile and colourful nature of this much-loved instrument.