An inaugural concert at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester in aid of the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People was held on Friday 8th May 2015 to celebrate the refurbishment of the 19th century pipe organ
The origins of the organ can be traced back to the early years of the 19th century, when it started life as a small chamber instrument built by the famous London craftsman William Gray.
It was utilised by the local organ builders Taylor and Company as the basis of the instrument installed in the old Masonic Hall in Halford Street, Leicester in 1903. This was moved to the present Hall in 1910 and was extended by Taylors in the 1940s.
After many years of faithful service the old instrument fell into disrepair and silence until being rescued by a young member, Carl Heslop, who volunteered his services to restore the organ to its former glory.
The concert began with the Rainbows Choir, consisting of staff and volunteers from the Hospice who energetically sang a number of songs including a medley from the Sound of Music.
This was followed by Carl Heslop who played several pieces on the newly refurbished organ including Dance of the Three Old Maids, and a medley in tribute to the British cinema organist, Sidney Torch.
One of the highlights was most certainly Carl accompanying Buster Keaton’s 1920 short comedy film One Week in true cinematic style, including his own improvisational flourishes heightening the drama seen on the screen much to the delight of the audience.
David Hughes entertained the audience of 140 with several monologues including Playing the Harmonium, which was a letter sent from the Rev FP Harton to Penelope Betjeman sacking her as Baulking Church organist, and a modified version of The Father of the Bride, originally written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall for Roy Kinnear.
The Tudor Choir, a 16-strong mixed voice choir based in Leicestershire, also performed several songs from movies and shows including The Circle of Life from Disney’s The Lion King.
The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, concluded the evening by presenting a cheque for £2,000 on behalf of the Freemasons and the Tudor Choir to the Chief Executive of Rainbows, Andy Campbell, and said: 'We are proud that the Rainbows Choir has helped us celebrate the rebuilding of this fine pipe organ and in return we are very pleased to make a major contribution to society by donating the proceeds of the event to Rainbows which provides a place where life-limited children and their families in the East Midlands can find care and support.'