The organ in the Royal Albert Hall has 9,997 pipes, and Prom 58: Light Organ Prom, the second of three Proms performed on Bank Holiday Monday in the UK (no day off for us down here in the Antipodes!), the others being Proms Chamber Music 7 and Prom 59: The Hollywood Sound. I have been fortunate enough to hear the Royal Albert Hall organ live in action, and it is one mighty instrument. This was a Prom without an orchestra, the only musician being organist Richard Hills. From time to time, I like to listen to The Organist Entertains on BBC Radio 2, and this Prom was very much along those lines. I do like organ music, whether it’s light, as in the Prom, or the heavier, religious music, or alongside an orchestra in a symphony or the like.
The music in Prom 58 was:
Eric Coates – March ‘Sound and Vision’
Arthur Sullivan – Mikado Memories (arr. R. Hills)
Billy Mayerl – Four Aces Suite – ‘Ace of Hearts’
Thomas Waller – A Handful of Keys (arr. R. Hills)
Edward German – Three Dances from Nell Gywn
John Ireland – Miniature Suite – Villanella
Being a bit of a fan of G&S, I very much enjoyed the Mikado Memories. Most of the G&S operas really are a variation on a theme, but it is wonderfully fun (and light) music.
The pieces by Mayerl and Waller were originally written for piano, but have been arranged for the organ. I found myself bopping away to the Waller, which is a very jazzy piece that I can easily imagine dancing along to.
The final piece of the Prom was A Children’s Overture, a medley of classic children’s songs, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Pop Goes the Weasel and The Bells of St Clements. The Prom ended with an encore of Tiger Rags, one of the jazz standards, with a few twists added in by Hills, which again, I found myself bopping along to. An excellent finale.
The Light Organ Music Prom is exactly what the title suggests; it’s just light, happy music. If you’re not one for organ music, or have never listened to it before, this Prom would be a good place to start. If nothing else, it’ll make you smile.