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Organ Music at Watford Colosseum****
10:01am Wednesday 13th June 2012 in Freetime
The characteristic sound of the theatre organ filled the Colosseum when Richard Hills gave another lunchtime concert on Monday, June 11. In a programme entitled Great Music from Great Britain, he played, from memory throughout, music from stage shows and other popular numbers, some of them from as far back as the 1920s. Some of these, such as Noel Coward's Mad Dogs and Englishmen, are now part of the national myth. As Richard remarked in speaking to the audience, it was a programme that matched the time of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, for this is the light music that the young Elizabeth knew.
Near the start, there was a technical hitch: the pedal keyboard had developed a fault. A technician emerged and put it right, to cheers from the audience. Technically, a theatre organ such as this is immensely versatile; played in the authentic manner, as by Richard, it exploits this musically. It can be very quiet or very loud and everything in between, and produces all sorts of sounds and special effects, such as panpipes for tunes from Lionel Monkton's The Arcadians and bells for a piece by Hoagy Carmichael. One might say that this was a concert of swells and bells!
Richard Hills is highly skilled in the performance of this repertoire on the theatre organ. His fast passages, his varied rhythms and clever use of the great range of stops were impressive. Other composers included in the programme were Eric Coates, Carroll Gibbons and Ray Noble.
When we heard A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, we might think, Watford is not Mayfair - but when we can go to a concert like this at the Colosseum, who wants Mayfair anyway?