Organ Trust of
Pops On Pipes Concert Reviews
Hollywood Wurlitzer pipe organ
Celebrates 25 years with UK Organist Robert Wolfe
Review from “Pipes & Percussion” – Newsletter for the “Friends of the Wurlitzer”.
WOLFE on WURLITZER – MEMORIES OF A GREAT SHOW!
It was the Trust’s greatest desire that the organ’s 25th Anniversary concert be “entertaining and memorable” – and I’m sure you will agree it was certainly that and a whole lot more! We had a sell out show to welcome Robert – the only empty seats had been for invited guests who did not show-up, sadly we could have sold these to the handful of door sales who we had to turn away.
Reflecting on the event, I penned the following for Robert’s Fan Club Newsletter…..
“Late in 2006, the Trust began brain-storming plans for the celebration of the organ’s 25th year at the Hollywood Cinema, but it seemed we all had one name in our minds… wouldn’t it be great to have Robert Wolfe back again, to really “make it a party!!”
as one of the most popular organists to entertain at the
Avondale Community Board of Auckland City was quick to respond with a grant of
NZD$3000 and one of the local businesses, Sibun’s Funeral Directors &
Advisors who have provided financial support for several of our “big ticket”
shows, also came up with a grant to help the cause. However, we really had little to fear, for
For Robert it was a lightning visit, he and David Cates flew in on the Saturday afternoon, the show was on Sunday, and they flew out back home on the Monday!
I could hardly contain myself when we got Robert to the theatre late Saturday afternoon so he could reacquaint himself with the Hollywood Wurli. Within a few short minutes those magic sounds, so very much “Robert”, were tumbling out of the organ chambers and I admit at a couple of stages to feeling my eyes well up at the thought of this long-held dream of mine to get Robert Wolfe back to play the refurbished Wurlitzer, finally being realised.
On Sunday at to a “FULL HOUSE”, the console rose very aptly to the strains of That’s Entertainment - a perfect opener to an afternoon FULL of entertainment.
We were treated to an ever-popular March Medley, the music of Ivor Novello and Ketelby, Highland Cathedral, Wind Beneath my Wings…… to name a few. These were interspersed with Quickstep medleys all given that wonderful Robert Wolfe treatment!
Oh! What a joy for me to see and hear Robert actually enjoying his time at the Hollywood Wurlitzer, it responding to everything he asked of it – a far cry from his previous visits where he battled with the instrument’s inherent failings in a bid to make music on it.
saw David Cates “ravaged” by eager buyers of the selection of CDs and DVDs that
were brought along on the trip. It was
amazing to hear stories from some of our audience, who had been phoned up by
relatives and friends in
(Photo courtesy FOTW member Mrs Vi Duff)
after over two hours of uplifting music and entertainment Robert brought the
program to a dramatic end with his legendary Storm at Sea complete with video
footage of a real whopper of a storm!
This had never been tried at the
Once the spectacular ovation from the audience had settled down, Robert gave his thanks to all concerned in bringing the show together, and concluded with For all we know, we may never meet again! …and then of course, Happy Birthday and Congratulations to the Hollywood Wurlitzer for 25 glorious years!
I probably do not need to tell you what came next – but yes – it was the fiery Tiger Rag! For Robert not to play this, his party piece, at a show, it would be like a Simon & Garfunkel concert without Bridge Over Troubled Water - there would be a riot!!
But not to disappoint, our audience were whipped into frenzy and I never thought Robert could race up and down those keyboards as fast as he did on this one, until finally he took the console down very appropriately to Beside the Seaside and Here’s to the Next Time!
Then….. it was all over! A year’s planning gone in as many hours – but oh what memories we have of a truly joyous celebration of a great achievement and of musical entertainment.
It would be true to say that the last ten or so years have been the most stable and secure for the ex-Regent Wurlitzer, we can only hope and pray that she sees 50 years at the Hollywood – and what a celebration THAT will be!!”
We also received email messages of congratulations from many of you; the one below from Graham McBain is typical of the positive effect Robert’s show had on all of us….
“Congratulations to you and all your associates on a spectacular concert on Sunday - Robert Wolfe seemed in fine form with flying fingers and hands moving in a blur to produce great music in a style that is surely unique (I don't know how you describe that "crossed-leg" pedal technique)! Certainly I have never heard some of the sounds that he coaxed out of the Wurlitzer and his absolute mastery of the instrument was plain for all to see.
I was struck also by the charm of his introductions and by his pleasantness when I spoke to him at the intermission - so much talent wrapped up in such a nice package, and humble as well!” ____________________________
Photo: The Crawford Family