I started playing the organ when I was 9 - my father owned a T500 Hammond which was his pride and joy. I started to show an interest in music and Dad agreed to teach me. He taught me all he knew and within a year he had arranged private tuition with my first teacher Ray Fox. At age 11 my Dad asked me what I would like for my birthday. I said I would like to play a concert, so Dad arranged it and I played my first 2 hour concert to friends and family - about 100 people. I loved every minute!
At around the same time, I was lucky enough to spend a weekend with FRANZ LAMBERT, and was honoured to be in the company of such a famous organist. At age 12, Dad and I were attending a lot of demos and concerts, and a new organ on the market (an ELKA E49) caught my Dad's eye. He kept looking at it, and for months he kept saying "I want that organ". At age 13 I arrived home from school to a gleaming new organ - the ELKA E49. Dad had bought it for my birthday - I was over the moon. Dad was so passionate about my music and enjoyed it so much we often stayed up until 2-3 in the morning playing - Mum wasn't impressed!
By the time I reached 14 Dad said "We need to get you another teacher, Ray has taken you as far as he can". Just a week earlier we had seen an advert in our local paper "Be taught by the best - call ANDREW GILBERT". We did, and for the next three years I was coached by Andy. He was very good for me and taught me so much in those three years.
Around this time I started entering competitions; my first was a Yamaha Local Region Competition to be held at Teville Organs at Worthing. I turned up and saw that one of the judges was Steve Lowdell. I played a 'Phantom of the Opera' Selection and won it.
After winning the local event, I was asked to compete in the National competition, which was held at The Library Theatre Solihull. I played the Yamaha HS8, i won £125! which, at that age, was like winning the Lottery! I then entered the Wersi competition, winning the local event. At that time, we didn't know but the competition was going to go further. A week after winning I got a call from Aura Sounds, Purley, to ask would I compete in the Wersi European finals to be held at FRANKFURT - all expenses paid for me and Dad.
We went over and WON a Wersi Prisma organ. When we got home Dad built it and that's the setup I used, with a Technics KN800, for the next three years.
At the age of 14, I also entered the Cinema Organ Society competition held at Gunton Hall. I played one slow piece and one fast piece and won. Dad was hoping that it would lead me into the Theatre organ circuit but, although I loved the sound of the Wurlitzers - especially when played by Robert Wolfe - I didn't have the passion for it and didn't take that path any further.
At seventeen, we had heard if you want to get on to the Organ circuit the best place to play would be somewhere called Caister. I had already sent off letters to all the leading manufacturers to ask if they needed a demonstrator, but the only reply I got was from Brian Price of BOHM to say "We don't need anyone at the moment, but good luck for the future", which I appreciated. I also sent off 40 letters to Organ Societies asking for a chance of appearing at their club. Looking back, I don't remember getting any replies to my letters so the next course of action was to find out if I could get a spot at Caister. I got in touch with Grant Neal and he said I could start off an evening concert for 25mins. We turned up at Caister the day before, trundled our Organ (which was now a Yamaha HX1) into our chalet and practised and practised so when I did eventually play I would be as sharp as I could be. Unfortunately, we got complaints from other chalets and had to turn the organ off! The day had come for me to play my first spot at Caister. I received a standing ovation and suddenly a lot of the people I had written to were now offering me concerts, so playing at Caister really did kick start my career.
The next year (now aged 18) I was playing around 30 concerts for the year as well as a full time job in my Dad's Billposting company. I was working for Dad from age 17 to 21, because I still didn't have enough concerts to do it full time. When I reached 21, with four years manual labour and trying to play concerts in the evening, my hands were starting to suffer so Dad and I had a talk and decided that I should leave his Company and try to make my living solely from music - a good move.
At 22 I got a call from Grant Neal "Do you want to play on the Blackpool Wurlitzer?" As I've said earlier, I was not 100% into the theatre organ but loved the sound and just couldn't turn down an offer like that. It is an amazing experience to rise out of the floor on the famous organ. I played for 20 minutes and found the organ very easy to play, not like a normal theatre organ where there is a lot of delay after pressing the notes - the sound was instant due to all the speakers I was surrounded by.
The same year I got a telephone call from Zurich - would I play for the Swiss Organ Festival? I agreed and went over to Lenk. I really did enjoy myself in Switzerland and, again, it was all adding to my experiences, At this time (1997) Klaus Wunderlich was still alive and my ambition was to meet my idol and talk with him. I went back over to Switzerland in November of that year, having had a call in the August of that year, and was told by friends it would be possible to meet up with Klaus when I come over to pla. Sadly, in October 1997 Klaus passed away, aged only 66. I was devastated. I had been listening to his music ever since I started playing, there has never been & will never be anyone that will match Klaus, a very special man, amazing ear, fantastic arrangements, unbelievable!...in his later years he did not have a record contract and was only recording what he loved to play personally. Concerto Grosso was to be his last ever recording and I sit back and listen in amazement to the talent that man had.
I get asked frequently what I listen to when I'm not playing, and a lot of people are surprised when I say Klaus. I do listen to other music but he has to be top of my list and always will be. I have been to Switzerland 5 times now, played the Blackpool Wurlitzer twice, am performing over 90 shows a year and enjoy my job very much.
Recently I was proud to receive the Trophy for the first ever Keyboard/Organist of the Year 2003-4 and would like to thank all those who voted for me, this is a 2 yearly award, i was so happy to also receive it for 2005-6. After receiving the Award for the second time the organisers called it a day on this Award.
I live in a nice part of the world - North Yorkshire - but just a little bit far for all the driving I do, have a lovely wife, Louise, and four wonderful boys, Charlie, Matthew, William & Lee.
Louise and I purchased a shop in Catterick village in February 2004. Louise had been going to a local market in Richmond every Saturday promoting her cakes and came to the decision that opening a shop in our village was a good idea. On February 24th 2004 we opened the doors, with not much stock, and hoped we could get it off the ground. A year on and business is really good; we stock everything related to cakes, ie: Tin hire, Wedding stands, Cutters, Sugar flowers, Cards, daily baking (yippee) and so much more.As with any business, especially in the early days, it is really hard work, sometimes demoralising but Louise is amazing, such a hard worker and that is the reason this business is working so well, i am very proud of her.
Me, Louise & our 2 Eldest Boys Charlie & Matthew are now running an Organ Club in Northallerton, I played the first concert in November 2011, Andrew Nix was performing in December 2011 & the latest concert January 2012 featured Elizabeth Harrison, an audience of 100 were present & i have high hopes for our local music club, It is run on a Sunday Afternoon and concerts start at 2-30pm, the venue is perfect for Organ Concerts, nice & warm, a stage, good facilities & plenty of parking. Louise makes all the refreshments, Yorkshire Tea! & Homemade Cake!.Our boys run the monthly charity raffle.
For more information have a look at our website. www.musicfornorthallerton.co.uk
Venue Address: The Catholic Church Hall, 41 Thirsk Road, Northallerton, DL6 1PJ.
Myself and Andrew Nix are running Festivals under the banner Topnote Events, we are loving every minute of this experience, we have worked hard getting the festvals up and running and give every event our full attention, we have a lovely venue on the south coast 'MILL RYTHE HOLIDAY VILLAGE, HAYLING ISLAND it is great value starting at £185 Full Board, if you fancy a weekend with myself, Andrew & friends, contact my wife Louise on (01609) 748295
Also a fantastic venue in the north FAIRFIELD MANOR MERCURE YORK, We have two weekends to choose from, one in March 1st-4th 2013 & another in September 20th-23rd 2013. They are both Half Board and the price is £239 per person, if you are interested in any of these breaks, they can be booked with me on (01609) 748295 or Andrew (01757) 708509, we would love to see you at our events, here is the link if you would like to see more info www.topnoteevents.co.uk
Tony will also be featured at the following festivals this year.
|Concerts in 2013|
|January 17th||Harrogate Electronic Organ & Keyboard Club|
|February 23rd||Seaford Organ & Keyboard Society (more details)|
Duet show with Andrew Nix
|February 27th||North Tyneside Electronic Organ Society|
|March 1st||Fairfield Manor 4* (Mercure) York Festival £239pp Half Board.Contact Tony 01609 748295 or Andrew on 01757 708509|
|March 2nd||Fairfield Manor 4* (Mercure) York Festival £239pp Half Board.Contact Tony 01609 748295 or Andrew on 01757 708509|
|March 3rd||Fairfield Manor 4* (Mercure) York Festival £239pp Half Board.Contact Tony 01609 748295 or Andrew on 01757 708509|
|March 4th||Fairfield Manor 4* (Mercure) York Festival £239pp Half Board.Contact Tony 01609 748295 or Andrew on 01757 708509 Go home today!|
|March 5th||Skegness and District Organ Society|
|March 12th||East Devon Organ Club|
|March 14th||York Electronic Organ & Keyboard Society|
|April 2nd||Sutton Organ Society|
|April 3rd||North Herts Organ Society|
|April 9th||Cosham Keyboard & Music Club|
|April 16th||Edinburgh organ society (more details)|
Call Nicola on 01592 652527 for more info
|April 17th||Fife Electronic Organ Society|
|April 26th||Fishermans Mission - Rotary Club Concert - Battery Green Road- NR32 1DH-more info Tim Wooldridge on 01493 603646|
|May 1st||Ashford (Kent) Keyboard and Organ Club|
|May 7th||White Rose Organ Society|
|May 8th||East London and Essex Organ Society|
|May 21st||Withernsea Organ Society|
|May 29th||Regis Organ and Keyboard Club|
|May 30th||Milton Keynes Organ Society|
|June 3rd||Nottingham Organ Society|
|June 4th||Winchester Electronic Organ Society|
|June 11th||Penrith and District Organ Society|
|June 15th||CRAWLEYCharis Centre (more details)|
Duet show with Andrew Nix (more details contact Andrew on 01757 708509 or email@example.com
|July 1st||Eden Park Music Club|
|July 7th||Scarborough Fair Collection (Electronic & Wurlitzer Duet Show) (more details)|
Duet show with Andrew Nix (more details contact Tony or Andrew)
|July 9th||East Coast Organ Society|
|July 11th||Peterborough Organ and Keyboard Club|
|July 12th||Mill Rythe Holiday Village Hayling Island Festival from £185pp Full Board Contact Louise Stace on (01609) 748295|
|July 13th||Mill Rythe Holiday Village Hayling Island Festival from £185pp Full Board Contact Louise Stace on (01609) 748295|
|July 14th||Mill Rythe Holiday Village Hayling Island Festival from £185pp Full Board Contact Louise Stace on (01609) 748295|
|July 15th||Mill Rythe Holiday Village Hayling Island Festival from £185pp Full Board Contact Louise Stace on (01609) 748295 Go Home Today!!|
|July 21st||William Penney Theatre (Aldermaston- Reading area) (more details)|
Duet show with Andrew Nix (more details from Tony stace on 01609 748285 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|July 27th||Bexley Electronic Organ Society (more details)|
Joint concert with Chris Powell
|July 28th||Swineshead Village Hall (lincs) (more details)|
Duet Show with Andrew Nix (for more details contact Andrew on (01757 708509 or email email@example.com)
|August 19th||Preston Community Concerts|
|September 4th||Abergele and District Electronic Organ Society|
|September 10th||Cosham Music Club (Duet Show With Andrew Nix)|
|September 11th||Charnwood Music For All|
|September 12th||Burntwood Music For All|
|September 23rd||Fairfield Manor 4* (Mercure) York Festival £239pp Half Board.Contact Tony 01609 748295 or Andrew on 01757 708509 Go Home Today!!|
|September 26th||Carlisle and West Cumbria Organ and Keyboard Society|
|October 2nd||Leeds Organ & Keyboard Club (more details)|
Playing his loyal Yamaha HX-1
|October 3rd||Weston Organ and Keyboard Club|
|October 4th||Trowbridge Electronic Organ Club|
|October 6th||Music For Northallerton (more details)|
Yorkshire Tea & Cake included!
|October 9th||North East Organ Society|
|October 10th||Sleaford Organ Club|
|October 12th||Cambridge Electronic Organ Society|
|October 13th||Westcliffe Theatre Clacton (Duet Show With Andrew Nix) Contact the Organ Club for more details|
|October 16th||Broadway Organ Society|
|October 25th||South Molton Organ and Keyboard Club|
|October 26th||Fleet Organ Society For More Details Contact Dave On 01252 684086|
|November 3rd||KEYNOTE Concerts (Central Hall , Emneth, Norfolk) (more details)|
|November 3rd||Wisbech - KeyNote CONCERTS|
|November 16th||Chelmsford Organ and Keyboard Club|
|November 17th||Ipswich Light Organ Music Society (more details)|
DUET SHOW with Andrew Nix - Electronic & Pipes!
|November 26th||Maidenhead Electronic Organ Society|
|November 27th||Bedford Organ and Keyboard Club|
|November 29th||Sheppey Organ Club|
|December 3rd||New Forest Organ Society Bashley Park Meal & Concert|
|December 4th||Watford Organ & Keyboard Club|
|December 9th||Felixstowe Electronic Organ Club|
|December 10th||Woodhall Spa and District Organ Society|
|December 11th||Sutton and District Organ Society|
|December 17th||Bournemouth Electronic Organ Society|
|December 18th||St Austell Organ & Keyboard Club|
|Concerts in 2014|
|January 19th||Gainsborough Organ Society (Duet Show With Andrew Nix)|
|January 31st||West Surrey Organ & Keyboard Club|
|April 24th||Taunton and Wellington Keyboard Club|
|May 13th||Lowestoft and District Organ and Keyboard Club|
|May 27th||Norwich Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club (more details)|
Duet Show with Andrew Nix
|June 16th||Canterbury Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club|
|July 1st||Eastbourne Organ and Keyboard Club|
|July 22nd||Thanet Electronic Organ & Keyboard Club (more details)|
|September 10th||Clacton & District Organ Society|
|November 9th||Rutland Organ and Keyboard Music Club|
|December 16th||Hastings & Bexhill Organ & Keyboard Society|