The Rye WurliTzer 'Dream'
23rd September 2007

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Dreams do sometimes come true, as Richard Moore discovered that his aspirations that one day his beloved Wurlitzer theatre organ would rise like a phoenix not from the ashes but from beneath the stage of Rye’s Thomas Peacocke College at last were reality. At 2.40pm the curtains swished open, a switch was pressed and hey presto, the 1925 instrument lovingly refurbished and shining in the spotlight rose into view with doyen of organ exponents - internationally renowned Len Rawle at the console amid the strains of - what else? Len followed this with Music, Music, Music and John Miles’ descriptive piece Music, before relinquishing the organ bench to Nicholas Martin, a regularly welcomed performer at Rye, who opened with a bow to Service Musicians, with the theme from A Bridge Too Far, On the Quarter Deck and Thirties’ Master of the King’s Music Sir Walford Davies’ evocative RAF March-Past. Opera’s contribution was Puccini’s aria O my Beloved Father, rapidly changing mood to Temptation Rag, The Windows of Paris, Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, Herb Alpert’s Walk in the Black Forest, memories of Jolson with Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye and the perennial I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside.. Beloved of circus proprietors to accompany trapeze acts, the waltz Fascination led into Tiger Rag, ending Part One in complete contrast, with Widor’s Toccata.

Richard Moore’s even more than usually extensive raffle aided by the Head Teacher of Thomas Peacocke Community College Anne Cockerham invoked roars of laughter before Nicholas opened Part Two with Eric Coates’s Dambusters March, the tried and true A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (nightingales having fled, music today being provided by Blüthner’s) Ray Noble’s The Touch of Your Lips, Johann Strauss’s Thunder and Lightning Polka and Leroy Anderson’s Forgotten Dreams. A necessity in any film tune sequence had to be Singing in the Rain, Nicholas incorporating a pipe organ effect. A Country and Western scene ending with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly gave Richard and much put-upon offspring Elliot opportunities for the histrionics without which no Rye programme is complete. Nicholas dedicated to two canine supporters The Whistler and His Dog and a few bars of How Much is that Doggie in the Window, closing with more show tunes, Make Believe from Jerome Kern’s Showboat, Forty-Second Street, and from Meet Me in St Louis, Judy’s Trolley Song. Len returned to join Nicholas on keyboards with the recently revived Is This the Way to Amarillo, and Quando, Quando, Quando, bringing the afternoon to a triumphant close as Richard thanked his team, Len, Steve Barrett-White and the many others for their years of devoted work culminating over the Easter and summer holidays, and the audience for their generous contribution of £90 to the Orphaned Village in Kabbubu, Uganda project which Elliot undertakes next April. So begins a new lease of life, heralding many more years of entertaining the public, of this unique and historic Wurlitzer.

Marrion Wells

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