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Donald MacKenzie: It's the Odeon!

Donald MacKenzie (organ of the Odeon, Leicester Square)

The Odeon Leicester Square is a name which conjures up glamour and red carpet spectacle in the world of the movies. The cinema was built as the west end showcase of the Odeon circuit in 1937. Part of its history over the past 85 years is the magnificent - original Compton organ. Donald MacKenzie, the cinema’s renowned organist has been performing there for 30 years as the House Organist. This recording features the many tonal colours available on ’The Duchess’ - as the organ is affectionately known. Donald is also recognised as one of the finest silent film accompanists too.

Released in 2018 on CD, this is the first time the recording has been available for digital download.


Leslie Smith: At the Odeon

John Howlett: Leicester Square Looks Round

Leroy Anderson: Forgotten Dreams

Jimmy Kennedy: Rickshaw Ride

Harry Warren: 42nd Street Tap

Richard Sherman: Mary Poppins Film Selection

Ivor Novello: The Land of Might Have Been

Burt Bacharach: Waltzing in Song Selection

Victor Young: Sweet Sue

Robert McDermot: Transatlantic Lullaby

José Belo Marques: Grain of Rice

John Lennon: Sixties Swing Selection

Fats Waller: Ain't Misbehavin'

Larry Fotin: Sidewalk Serenade

George Gershwin: The Genius of Gershwin - Selection

Rolf Løvland: You Raise Me Up

George Fornby: Fornby Favourites

Leslie Smith: At the Odeon

Recorded at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, UK on 2nd February 2018
Design: Willowhayne Records
Recording Engineering and Production: Steve Barnett-White
Total Time: 63:29
Release Date: September 2022

Donald MacKenzie was born in Ayrshire (Scotland) in 1970. He began his professional career in 1988 when he was the organist of the Glasgow Garden Festival. In July 1992 (24 years ago) he began his long association with the world famous Odeon Leicester Square Compton Organ by playing it for film events. In October 1993 he was engaged to play the organ for 5 weeks before each performance of the Disney film, ‘Aladdin’. Since then he has appeared regularly at film premières, special events and organ concerts. He has broadcast from the Odeon on BBC Radios 2, 3, 4 and the World Service. He has been featured on a number of television programmes and Donald has played for numerous Royal Film Performances, including several in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.

When he is not playing for concerts Donald specialises in the art of improvised accompaniments to silent films - his first public appearance accompanying films was aged 14, for a special evening screening in Paisley Town Hall. He has now more than thirty feature films ‘under his fingers’ including many of the major classics of the silent screen, as well as many different types of short silent films. These have been acclaimed by the critics and the audience absolutely love the experience of Donald’s accompaniment to a film. His stylish accompaniments have led to numerous engagements (with many repeats) throughout the UK at venues such as The Victoria Hall - Hanley, The Usher Hall - Edinburgh, The Alexandra Palace - London, The Music Hall - Aberdeen, The Caird Hall - Dundee, Chester, Derby & Leicester Cathedrals, Saarlouis Evangelical Church, Wolverhampton Civic Hall, St Anne’s Cathedral & Clonard Monastery - Belfast, De Montfort Hall Leicester, The Musical Museum - Brentford, The Troxy Stepney and also in Europe and the USA. His overseas concert appearances have included - in Poland at the Bielsko Biala Bach Festival, in Philadelphia (USA) at the Wanamaker Store and Girard College, in Holland for the Nederland’s Orgel Federation and several times in Germany playing the Moller organ in the music hall of the world famous organ building firm of August Laukhuff. At this venue he has also played for silent film evenings as part of the Hohenloher Cultural Summer Festival. In 2008 he was honoured to become a Patron of the Lancaster Town Hall Organ Restoration Project. He was the Chair of Jury for the First Silent Film Competition held at The Babylon Cinema, Berlin in 2015. ​2017, saw Donald appearing at Hull City Hall, as part of the year of City of Culture. During 2018, the Odeon Leicester Square is being refurbished and Donald will be returning later in the year at the console of the Duchess.

Several highlights of Donald’s career include playing to an audience of over 4,000 in Balboa Park, San Diego on the world famous outdoor organ, and he has played the organ numerous times in front of members of the Royal Family including Her Majesty The Queen.

MUS0118     View Booklet     UPC: 5060742690230

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