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WHAT’S UP! A labor of love


Disparate musicians offer talents at summer outdoor organ concert series nearing silver anniversary


By Dave Fidlin SDUN Reporter


From an early age, Carol Wil- liams was enthralled with music—particularly organ music, which she dreamed of having an opportunity to play.


The British native is living out


a life’s ambition through her role with the Spreckels Organ Society. In addition to serving as artistic director of the San Diego-based organization, in its 24th year of operation, Williams routinely plays organ music at venues throughout the city. Williams is one of nearly a


dozen organists performing this summer in Spreckels’ 2011 Sum- mer International Organ Festival concerts, held Monday evenings in Balboa Park. She kicked off the 11-week season June 20 and also will have the distinct honor of closing out this year’s festival, which, like the parent organiza- tion, is a year shy of its silver anniversary. “I began reading music before I even knew how to read,” said Williams, who is in her 10th year of performing at Spreckels’ sum-


FROM PAGE 14 TOMMY


he meant maybe Mr. Walker, something like that.” Slade said, recalling how he then asked, “Who’s Tommy?” After realizing what Wood- house meant, Slade was over- whelmed.


“It means so much to me, espe- cially at this time, to have someone truly believe in my raw, God-given talent; to have him think enough of me to plan this project to showcase me. It’s so overwhelming my heart is full,” Slade said. African-American Tommys are uncommon and perhaps unprece- dented, but Slade (neé Williams) comes from a long line of “first” achievers. His father was the first African-American head football coach at San Diego City College and the first African-American on the board of directors of the California Teachers Association. His grandfather put together the first black firefighters union. “Everyone says that black


entertainers come from broken, drug-infested, gang-filled homes. I truly grew up in ‘The Cosby Show’ with the Huxtables. I had balance with my father being a teacher and my mother also an educator. They made sure I was well-rounded enough and exposed to all kinds of music.” Slade, his father and his grandfather attended Horton Plaza’s opening day in 1985. “I was a little boy, so thrilled by the architecture. Now I have difficulty seeing it in my head—walking down to the Lyceum and seeing that yellow poster with my face on it and the marquée that reads ‘The Who’s Tommy with B. Slade.’” Once he gets over the shock,


Slade’s next goal is to play another role normally assigned to a white actor—the title role in a Broadway production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a role noted for its high notes.


AT A GLANCE


What: 2011 Summer Interna- tional Organ Festival When: 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Aug. 29 Where: Spreckels Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park, 1549 El Prado Cost: admission and parking free Contact/information: (619) 702-8138, www.sosorgan.com


mer festivals. “For me, playing the organ is just an incredible experience. There’s nothing else like it.”


David Arcus is another vener-


able organist who has a special affinity with the instrument. The Durham, N.C.-based musician is showcasing his talents Aug. 15 at the festival. It will be Arcus’ first time performing in Balboa Park and his second concert on the West coast.


“It will be interesting to per-


form in an outdoor setting,” said Arcus, a chapel organist at Duke


“As an actor and as an intense


vocalist, Ted Neely [who played the role in Andrew Lloyd Web- ber’s musical from 1973-2010] is my vocal inspiration, which is


University. “My work doesn’t really allow me to travel much because I am needed for long stretches of time. I stay pretty busy throughout the year, so this will be something new for me.” Each organist brings some-


thing different to the stage throughout the summer festival. While she is performing twice this year, Williams vows her performances will not be mirror images of one another. The San Diego Civic organist was joined by musicians from disparate groups during her opening performance, “Celebration.” They included the House of Scotland Pipe Band, Finest City Brass Herald Trumpets and the choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Williams’ grand finale per-


formance in late August will pay homage to great Hollywood musi- cal numbers, featuring scores from a wide range of films—from such legendary pieces as “The Sound of Music” to more recent works, including “The King’s Speech.” “We’ve got some great ar-


see Organ, page 22


why I sing as high as I do now,” Slade said. For information and tickets,


visit sdrep.org or call (619) 544- 1000.u


Spreckles Organ Pavilion


San Diego Uptown News | July 22–August 4, 2011


15


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