James’ Brand New Blog

RIP renowned organist Carlo Curley (1952-2012)

- August 13th, 2012

carlo curey

Image courtesy of orgel.com

A good friend to JBNBlog and London art & life is ace organist Ross McDonald. He knows much more about the world of organ music than just about anybody hereabouts & has just e-mailed the following about someone unknown to me . . . I missed out on some glorious sounds, it seems.

Hello James,

Just a short note to you about the passing of organist CARLO CURLEY.

Curley died on this past Saturday at age 59 in England. He was a giant in the organ world, the Pavarotti of the organ. He was a student of the world famous Virgil Fox. He drew his audience from the classical as well as the popular world, much like Liberace.

Curley played a number of occasions here in London. I haven’t seen anything of his death in the local media. I would think there would be many who would like to know about this. He was the only organist who could fill Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Grey Cup Weekend… for a solo organ performance.

There is a lot of coverage on line / Google about his death, Wikipedia, BBC and so on. Feel free to get back to me if you wish.

Many thanks,
Ross McDonald

Among those London dates is this brief mention of an Oct. 20, 2001 recital . . .  ORGAN CONCERT: World-renowned organist Carlo Curley, tomorrow, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 4 p.m.; tickets $15, seniors/students $13 at the door; Oakridge Presbyterian Church, 862 Freele St.

Ross just sent along some more Curley details:

Carlo Curley also played at Dundas Centre United Church in London around 1980, to re-open the rebuilt and restored Casavant pipe organ. He also played at Byron United on a digital organ many years ago. Also at Knox Presbyterian in Cambridge a few years ago. Curley played both pipe and digital organs.

. . . Liberace arrived on Radio City Music stage in a vintage auto for a performance. Curley also did with a Cadillac auto, down the center of the hall in London’s Alexandra Palace for an organ performance!

 

To give you a chance to hear & experience more, here’s Carlo Curley’s YouTube presence 

 

Thanks for passing along the sad news, Ross . . . a giant is gone.

 

Here is the obituary from bbc.co.uk:

International concert organist Carlo Curley, known as “the Pavarotti of the organ”, has died aged 59.

A message on his website called his death “a huge loss for us all, and for the organ community”.

Curley was well known for appearances on BBC TV and radio, including organ spectaculars from Cathedrals in Guildford, Gloucester and Norwich.

He was the first classical organist to give a solo recital at the White House, invited by US President Jimmy Carter.

In an interview with Radio 2 last year, he talked about his mission to popularise the classics and relived a concert in London’s Alexandra Palace that saw him drive down the centre of the hall in a Cadillac.

Curley was born into a musical family in 1952 and attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, later studying with two of the world’s greatest organists, America’s legendary Virgil Fox and British player Sir George Thalben-Ball.

His charismatic personality and imagination meant he was one of the few organists to be known by name and reputation outside of the classical music world and played regularly across the globe on sell out tours, to a large and loyal following.

Curley’s autobiography In The Pipeline was published by HarperCollins in 1998.

He also played before several members of European royalty, including the Princess Royal, the late Princess Grace of Monaco and the Danish Royal Family.

Categories: Entertainment

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6 comments

  1. Dan Brock says:

    The date(s) of Carlo Curley’s performances in London are worth noting for a subsequent supplement to “Fragments from the Forks.” Thanks for the heads-up.

  2. james.reaney says:

    Which reminds JBNBlog: The Kitty Wells & Johnny Wright show you were seeking on behalf of future Fragments was June 24, 1979. It was one windy day out at grandstand.

  3. and also played before several European heads of state. He toured extensively throughout the world, and had a large and loyal following. The Carlo Curley Concert Circle, based in the UK, was formed in 1990 by Cherry Stevens and organized numerous trips with him throughout England and abroad.

  4. dieta says:

    His charismatic performances are famous across the world, but he regarded England as one of his spiritual homes, alongside Scandinavia and his birthplace.

  5. Bill Potts says:

    The organ world has had more than its fair share of larger than life characters, and Carlo stood out above all others. He was a wonderful entertainer and will be a great loss.

  6. gold account says:

    The North Carolina native was student of legendary American organist Virgil Fox, and spent much of his adult life careening around the world, sharing his love and curiosity about pipe and, later, digital organs. He had a popular touch, and was not shy about mixing pops repertoire with classical warhorses.

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