English organist set to perform in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

English organist set to perform in Grass Valley

Trina Kleist
Special to Prospector
Simon Gledhill performs June 23 in Grass Valley.
Submitted photo

Internationally praised English theater organist Simon Gledhill will perform in concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley. Admission is by donation, and a free reception follows.

Gledhill promises a repertoire of light classical works, selections from the Great American Songbook and some British jewels little-known in this country. Gledhill has toured widely around the world and made more than 20 recordings.

He was named the American Theater Organ Society’s Organist of the Year and was inducted into its Hall of Fame.

This event is a production of Arts @ PEACE, Peace Lutheran Church’s offering of high-quality cultural events for the whole community. Proceeds benefit the church’s organ fund, an effort to raise money to replace the aging organ in its sanctuary. Gledhill will perform on another instrument, a Walt Strony Signature Series four-manual theater organ, on loan to the church by owner and designer Walt Strony, a Grass Valley resident.

“I first met Simon when I was performing in London in the early 1980s,” wrote Strony, who invited Gledhill to perform locally. “He was in high school at the time, and played for me at a social gathering following my concert. I was impressed with what I heard and knew that he would go places.

“Soon thereafter, Simon released his first LP in Britain,” Strony continued. “I was so impressed with that album that I worked behind the scenes in the United States to help arrange some of his first concerts in America. Of course, he was an instant hit.”

After this performance, both musicians will travel to New York to perform at the American Theater Organ Society’s annual convention. This year marks Strony’s 33rd appearance at the convention, more than anyone alive, he said.

A native of West Yorkshire, England, Gledhill took up the accordion at age six. By 15, he was a runner-up in the under-16 category of the British National Accordion Playing Championship. That same year, he turned to the organ. By 16 years old, he earned first prize in the Northern Young Theatre Organist of the Year competition, according to his biography.

Though he graduated from Cambridge University in chemical engineering, Gledhill has spent his career in finance, starting out with Lloyd’s Bank and rising to a senior position. He is now a divisional chief risk officer at Legal & General, a multi-national financial services company based in London, according to his biography.

Peace Lutheran Church Outreach Coordinator Trina Kleist may be contacted at tkleistwrites@gmail.com or 530-575-6132.

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