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Radio City Music Hall concert Jan 16

I attended a theatre organ concert at Radio City Music Hall last Tuesday. This was the third time that NYTOS (the New York Theatre Organ Society) had held this annual event. I had gone the first year, then missed it in ’06 because I had a show, and was really looking forward to coming this year. It’s a real special, unique, NYC event…sitting dead center in RCMH with just the houselights and the stage worklights on and just a couple hundred people in that immense, grand theater, hearing that Wurlitzer in a private concert. Saw a couple theatre organ folk I knew. There were two organists performing, both of whom are staff organists at Radio City. The first one’s program left a lot to be desired; the selections and arrangements were not all that varied, and the arrangements – as far as employing the various ranks of the instrument – were rather similar and merry-go-round sounding. The second performer clearly knew just how to put on a theatre organ concert. Really woke us up with a fanfare-y opening, and a nicely varied program of tunes, and has some great arrangements that utilized various combinations of sounds or soloed ranks to give expression and mood to the pieces. I’m not big fan of the ‘showstopper toe-tapper’ theatre organ concert program, but this was enjoyable and effective without being show-offy.

I’ve never been interested in performing “with the lights on” (meaning without a film being the main audience focus) but am now mulling over creating a program of original arrangements of concert pieces. Am mostly interested in playing stuff not usually associated with a theatre organ concert but which would still be effective and also appealing to a new audience, i.e. themes from film scores by Chaplin or Bernard Herrman or Nino Rota, be-bop era standards like Round Midnight or Green Dolphin Street…that sort of thing. So many theatre organ concerts have the same 1930s/1940s or B’way standards you can’t tell them apart — the songs That’s Entertainment, Another Opening, Comedy Tonight and Hooray For Hollywood seem to be many performing organist’s favorites…

Have heard now from Kino that the baseball DVD will be out in April, and that the Houdini set will probably be out in July. The Unknown Video release of What Happened To Rosa should be announceable in the next couple of months. Plus a couple of other things in the wind I’ll post about when they’re solidified.

Have done two great programs at MoMA, part of the Ford Family Programs, and introduced silents to a whole bunch of kids (and also handed out Silent Clowns flyers to them). next one is Feb 3rd at MoMA. Am also playing for DeMille’s The Squaw Man at MoMA on Feb 5 and 7. Haven’t decided if I want to bring in the Miditzer for that or not yet.

Stay tuned…

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