Pulling out all the stops

Richard and the Wurlitzer at Pollokshaws Burgh Halls
Richard and the Wurlitzer at Pollokshaws Burgh Halls

Tinkling the ivories will take on a whole new meaning at Glasgow’s Pollokshaws Burgh Hall on Sunday, April 17.

Because that’s when world renowned organist Richard Hills brings the last remaining cinema organ in Scotland to life in a special concert.

At one time all the major cinemas in Scotland had a cinema organ, but they were all sold or destroyed, and when the Scottish Cinema Organ Trust was formed to maintain the cinema organ tradition, they had to go the Ritz Cinema in Stockport to buy a suitable organ.

The massive Wurlitzer they bought was refurbished and rebuilt in Pollokshaws Burgh Hall and has since come to be recognised by leading organists as one of the finest in the country.

Jack Walker chairman of the Scottish Cinema Organ Trust said: “We are really excited at the thought of having Richard Hills, who is the world’s leading cinema organist, playing our Wurlitzer.

“We are looking forward to a memorable concert as Richard brings the best out of this iconic instrument”.

In the era of the silent movies, the cinema organs provided the music to accompany the action on the silver screen.

And even when the talkies came in, the organs, usually a Compton or a Wurlitzer, were used to play during the intervals, a tradition that only finally died out in the early sixties.

Jack Walker added: “During Glasgow’s Doors Open Day some 700 people visited Pollokshaws Burgh Hall, and all but a handful were totally amazed to find that the building boasts Scotland’s only remaining cinema organ.

“We very much hope that concerts by the likes of Richard Hills who was voted Cinema Organist of the year in the States, will start to change that level of perception”.

Richard Hills is a classically trained organist and Oxford scholar, with further scholarships at Portsmouth and Rochester Cathedrals and assistant at Westminster Abbey.

Richard has also bridged the gap between the classical and theatre organ traditions as demonstrated at a memorable BBC Proms Concert where his Tiger Rag finale on the massive Wills organ almost lifted the roof off the Albert Hall.

Tickets for the Richard Hills concert can be bought at the door, price £7.