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Fabulous Wurlitzer

Posted: Sunday 22nd April

Fabulous Wurlitzer

Last night was the official opening show for the East Sussex National Wurlitzer in Uckfield and I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest at the show.

This stunning instrument is located in the superb setting of the East Sussex National Golf Resort. You would possibly think this a strange combination, but wow does it work. The instrument is the largest Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in Europe, having 32 ranks of pipes. The console and pipes have all been imported from the US a where they were selected by Sussex based organist Michael Maine, with further input from top American organist and tonal expert Clark Wilson. The console specification was drawn up by Michael Wooldridge. David Holgate masterminded the operation to install the organ, including the rare 32" tall wooden diaphones that stretch from an especially dug pit right up to the roof of the building.

The Opus-Two instrument control system from Canada has been installed to connect the beautifully ornate console to the pipes. The whole project has recently been finished off by husband and wife team Ed and Patti Zollman (from the USA) who spent weeks perfecting the tonal finishing of the pipes. The result is nothing short of stunning!

Everything about the venue just oozes "Class". The organ concert room is tastefully decorated and laid out with comfortable conference chairs. The concert itself was given by two artistes, Michael Wooldridge and Richard Hills. I have heard Michael many times however Richard was new to me and I have to say it was an absolute pleasure to hear them both perform. Each played for about half an hour in each half and we were treated to wide repertoire that ranged from a medley from My Fair Lady to several numbers I have never heard in my years in the business.

The concert was very well attended, so much so that a number of extra chairs had to be added to accommodate everyone. I was impressed to see a large audience that had been drawn in from at least as far away as Bristol and included members of at least six different organ clubs that I know of as well as several well known concert artistes.

After the show Michael and Richard stayed around for questions and pictures with the console. Michael was also kind enough to also give myself and David Reed from the Cinema Organ Society a guided tour of the instrument chambers. Although written as a news item I can highly recommend a visit to this venue and I would suggest you add Sunday 10th June to your diary as american artiste Jelani Eddington will be playing in concert. Dancers will be interested to know that Michael Wooldridge and Chris Stanbury will be performing at a number of Sunday afternoon Tea Dances over the next few months. Information can be found on the East Sussex National Golf Resort website.

John Romero.

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