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Thursday, April 09, 2009

THE ENTERTAINER


by Virgil Fox at the Mighty Wichita Wurlitzer


RCA RED SEAL
ARL1-0666
1974
STEREO

Recorded live in the Exhibition Hall of Wichita's Century II Civic Center
With comments by Mr. Fox

Produced by Peter Dellheim
Recording Engineer: Bernard Jeville


"I am controversial as hell," said Virgil Fox in a Time magazine interview earlier this year. "My more conservative colleagues regard me as an infidel. They say I'm a showman, and I'm proud to be one." While most of his "more conservative colleagues" give a few recitals a year, Fox gives 80. About half are in fairly conservative form, the other half with a light show usually associated with rock bands.

Fox has come a long way since his stint as a church organist when he was 10. He graduated from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore at the age of 20, studied with French organist Marcel Dupre and returned to Peabody as head of the organ department at 26. For 19 years Fox held the post of organist at Manhattan's prestigious Riverside Church. A bachelor, he lives in a 26-room gray stone mansion in Englewood, New Jersey, and keeps fit by swimming 30 laps daily in his 70-foot heated indoor pool.

Musicological purists are "barnacles on the ship of music," says Fox. Communication is what an artist lives for, "audiences on their feet screaming for more." Anyone who has been present at a Fox concert can attest to his effectiveness, and four of his LPs taped at performances have cracked the Billboard charts.

Wichita's Mighty Wurlitzer is the former Paramount organ, built for the New York theater when it opened in 1926. The presence of the organ in Kansas is the result of an eight-year retirement-restoration.

In 1964, when the Paramount was closed, the organ was removed and sent to California. After four years of storage, the organ was sold to Wichita Theater Organ, Inc., for the then-under-construction Century II. On February 25, 1968, shortly after the organ's arrival in Wichita, a fire totally destroyed the console. During the construction of the new one, an exact duplicate of the original, members of the WTO invested over 12,000 volunteer man-hours in restoring the 66,000 pounds of organ to like-new condition and installing it in its new home.

The restructured organ was heard for the first time om December 9, 1972.

Other RCA albums by Virgil Fox:
Heavy Organ at Carnegie Hall - ARD1/ARL1-0081
Heavy Organ at Carnegie Hall - ARD1/ARL1-0477
The Virgil Fox Bach Book - ARL1-0476
Saint-Saens: Symphony No. 3("Organ") with Eugene Ormandy/The Philadelphia Orchestra ARD1/ARL1-0484

Timings: Side A-19:35 Side B-19:28
Liner Photo: Carl S. Parker
TMK(S) Registered - Marca(s) Registrada(s) RCA Corporation
Copyright 1974, RCA Records, New York, N. Y. - Printed in U. S. A.


SIDE A:



The Star-Spangled Banner (Arnold-Key)
Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here (Sullivan)
The Entertainer (Joplin)
Roulade (Bingham) (ASCAP)
Londonberry Air (Traditional)
Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin)


SIDE B:



Variations on "America" (Ives) (SESAC)
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Elgar)
"Jig" Fugue (J. S. Bach)

Public performance clearance-P.D., except as noted



Editor's note: boooooring! Most of these organ type albums are rowdy in their musical selections and not the sideshow of the performer. I guess he was flamboyant and all but his selection of music--even in the Bible Belt--sucks. I don't know what I expected but I suppose I was hoping for something George Wright-esque in intensity, sound and direction. Well, at least the cover is brilliant. Unfortunately the disc was empty of entertaining content.

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