A suite from Fall of the Roman Empire will be performed by Orange County’s Pacific Symphony Orchestra (PSO) on November 6, 2008, at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center (OCPAC). Richard Kaufman will conduct the orchestra and organist Dennis James in the first half of the program. (Bill Medley from the Righteous Brothers will perform during the second half.) James will be seated high above the stage at the hall’s new organ manufactured by C.B. Fisk and named in honor of philanthropist William J. Gillespie. The $3 million mechanical action 4,322-pipe organ was designed to replicate a pre-electric era instrument, with the key desk attached to the pipes. This enables the organist to directly control the opening and closing of the pipe valves with the keyboards and pedals. Electric fans and computer-controlled stops add contemporary state-of-the-art functionality. For more, read “Pipe Dreams: New Organ Uses Modern Technology to Produce Vintage 18th-Century Sound,” by Al Rudis in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
To showcase the hall’s inaugural organ performance in the Pacific Symphony’s Pops series, Kaufman suggested a new, shorter suite of music from Fall of the Roman Empire. Orchestrator Patrick Russ selected two pieces that feature the organ prominently: the memorable opening Overture and the impressive Pax Romana. “The William J. Gillespie Concert Organ in Segerstrom Hall will bring a renewed appreciation to Tiomkin’s masterful music for this screen epic,” remarked Russ. “I’m looking forward to hearing Dennis James and the PSO pull out all the stops on this one.” James, a preeminent silent film and concert organist, has served as house organist at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle and the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California. Incidentally, for the 1964 film Tiomkin recorded the organ at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London. Pianists and singers may note that the theme from Fall of the Roman Empire is included in the forthcoming Dimitri Tiomkin Anthology. The Hal Leonard songbook will include both a piano solo and vocal selection for “The Fall of Love.”
The PSO concert is also scheduled for Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8. OCPAC (www.ocpac.org) is located at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, California. Tickets are available by telephone from the PSO ticket office at (714) 755-5799, and online at www.pacificsymphony.org.