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.
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 ran so well.
In February 2014 we had our tenth anniversary, we closed the shop shortly after, a change in circumstances meant that we had to.
Louise continues to run her business from a specialist refrigerated van to most of the customers she served in the shop.
Myself, Louise & our four boys 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 £199 full Board, if you fancy a weekend with myself, Andrew & friends, contact my wife Louise on (01609) 748295
We also run weekends in Hull, York, Kettering and Eastbourne, for more info on these Great festivals visit: www.topnoteevents.co.uk
Tony will also be featured at the following festivals this year.
|Concerts in 2016|
|March 18th||YORK TOPNOTE FESTIVAL £245 PER PERSON Contact Tony on 01609 748295 to find out more and book this fabulous Hotel.|
|March 19th||YORK TOPNOTE FESTIVAL £245 PER PERSON Contact Tony on 01609 748295 to find out more and book this fabulous Hotel.|
|March 20th||YORK TOPNOTE FESTIVAL £245 PER PERSON Contact Tony on 01609 748295 to find out more and book this fabulous Hotel.|
|March 27th||Regis Organ and Keyboard Club (more details)|
Sunday Afternoon - Call for Details
|March 29th||Norwich Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club|
|April 24th||Music for the North East (more details)|
Call Jon Smith or Chiho Sunamoto for more details.
|May 18th||Bourne Organ Club|
|May 24th||New Forest Organ Society|
|May 26th||Taunton and Wellington Keyboard Club|
|June 2nd||Bridport Electronic Organ Club|
|June 10th||Ascot Organ and Keyboard Club|
|June 24th||Crawley Keyboard Club|
|June 28th||Thanet Electronic Organ & Keyboard Club|
|June 30th||Association of Organ Enthusiasts (AOE) (more details)|
Joint concert with Nicholas Martin
|July 8th||Organ & Keyboard Festival at Mill Rythe Holiday Village - Hayling Island. Prices from £199. Singles from £209 Call Louise on (01609) 748295 to book|
|July 9th||Organ & Keyboard Festival at Mill Rythe Holiday Village - Hayling Island. Prices from £199. Singles from £209 Call Louise on (01609) 748295 to book|
|July 10th||Organ & Keyboard Festival at Mill Rythe Holiday Village - Hayling Island. Prices from £199. Singles from £209 Call Louise on (01609) 748295 to book|
|July 11th||Banstead Organ and Keyboard Club|
|July 12th||East Devon Organ Club|
|August 9th||Blackpool Keyboard Club|
|September 5th||Nottingham Organ Society|
|September 9th||Bristol Hammond and Electronic Organ Society|
|September 10th||St Albans Organ Theatre (more details)|
DUET CONCERT WITH ANDREW NIX
|September 14th||Horsham Organ and Keyboard Society (more details)|
DUET SHOW WITH ANDREW NIX
|September 30th||Sheppey Organ Club|
|October 4th||White Rose Organ & Keyboard Society|
|October 17th||Canterbury Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club|
|October 18th||Bolton In Tune (BADEOS)|
|October 21st||KETTERING HOTEL AND SPA - A fabulous hotel, one of the very best, come and join us £245HB Tel: 01609 748295|
|October 22nd||KETTERING HOTEL AND SPA - A fabulous hotel, one of the very best, come and join us £245HB Tel: 01609 748295|
|October 23rd||KETTERING HOTEL AND SPA - A fabulous hotel, one of the very best, come and join us £245HB Tel: 01609 748295|
|October 28th||South Molton Organ and Keyboard Club|
|November 6th||Music for Northallerton (more details)|
Duet show with Andrew nix
|November 7th||Nuneaton and District Organ Society|
|November 15th||Bideford Keyboard and Organ Club|
|November 16th||Broadway Organ Society|
|November 28th||Leyland In Tune|
|November 29th||Orpington Keyboard Club (more details)|
|December 1st||Scunthorpe Organ Society|
|December 4th||Music for Northallerton|
|December 7th||Ollerton and District Organ Society|
|December 11th||Rutland Organ and Keyboard Music Club|
|December 16th||West Surrey Organ & Keyboard Club (more details)|
|December 20th||Bournemouth Electronic Organ Society|
|December 21st||St Austell Organ & Keyboard Club|
|Concerts in 2017|
|January 9th||Cheadle and District Organ Society|
|January 15th||Gainsborough Organ Society (more details)|
DUET SHIW WITH ANDREW NIX
|January 19th||Weyhill Electronic Organ Society|
|February 16th||East Herts Modern Organ Club|
|February 17th||EASTBOURNE TOPNOTE FESTIVAL £225 per person. A fantastic hotel - Be great to see you! Call Tony on 01609 748295 to book this holiday.|
|February 18th||EASTBOURNE TOPNOTE FESTIVAL £225 per person. A fantastic hotel - Be great to see you! Call Tony on 01609 748295 to book this holiday.|
|February 19th||EASTBOURNE TOPNOTE FESTIVAL £225 per person. A fantastic hotel - Be great to see you! Call Tony on 01609 748295 to book this holiday.|
|February 23rd||Kingswinford and District Organ Society|
|April 20th||Harrogate Electronic Organ & Keyboard Club|
|June 19th||Scarborough Electronic Organ Society|
|August 9th||Sutton in Ashfield Electronic Organ Society|
|September 27th||Verwood Organ Society|
|October 31st||Hastings & Bexhill Organ & Keyboard Society|
|November 7th||Eastbourne Organ and Keyboard Club|
|November 8th||Clacton Keyboard Music Club (Formerly Clacton & District Organ Society)|
|November 21st||Bournemouth Electronic Organ Society|
|December 13th||East London and Essex Electronic Keyboard Club|
|December 19th||Woodhall Spa and District Organ Society|