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Howard Beaumont

Howard Beaumont, better known to some as the King of the Keyboards, has been entertaining locals and tourists alike for over 25 years as part of the Spa's summer concert season.  We spoke to him about this impressive reign and other aspects of his career, including his regular BBC Radio spot. 

Starting off with a little about his tenure and the current season, Howard tells me, "it's my 25th year in the Suncourt, though I started in Scarborough in 1988, playing at the Spa for morning coffee dances & also afternoons in Peasholm Park, so this year is actually my 27th season. This year, we are bringing back the coffee dances after a five year absence, so I'm looking forward to seeing people there, even if they don't dance! We hope they will just enjoy some live music from yours truly."

Discussing how things have changed over this period of time, Howard is pleased to note that they are "getting new people who have never seen an organist play outside before, and they are amazed at the wide variety of sounds that brings." He adds that he is always conscious of people's tastes in music, and tries to oblige by playing their requests.  "I always change my programmes daily and try to give them a mixture of popular melodies, show selections, and medleys that feature a certain artist, like Michael Bublé or Abba or even André Rieu, for example.

Of course, when playing outside there is always the threat of a downpour in the middle of a performance. A couple of times I was left marooned on the bandstand, there was so much rain I had to wade across the Suncourt to then carry on inside with very wet clothes and shoes!"

And that's not the only time that has caused amusement in the course of the quarter-century at the Spa. "I remember asking a couple for requests and they just turned and said, 'Oh yes, can we have tea & scones for two please?' More surprisingly, a man once came and just put on his tap dancing shoes, and tapped around the bandstand while I played 'Singing In The Rain'!"

As well as his afternoons at the Spa, Howard is busy touring out for evening gigs: "I travel all over the country, I enjoy playing in different venues, I think it keeps you young. I also enjoy playing abroad in Holland - they have always been very enthusiastic about popular organ music when I've been."  Having had such a long career and learning piano from the age of seven, I question whether Howard has ever dabbled in other instrumentation, to learn that he did try to play the trumpet once – but gave up when it gave him a headache. He feels that the recipe for his longevity on the circuit has simply been to always be aware of what the audience like and to play with a great feeling for the music.

Originally from Halifax, he now resides in Scarborough, though his musical talent has taken him around the world; he is also a regular performer on BBC Radio 2's 'The Organist Entertains' and has produced numerous recordings, too. Of these many highlights, he finds it difficult to choose one favourite moment, but they include playing to a packed audience for the BBC's "Organist Entertains" 25th Anniversary & again for the 40th. "And of course, my appointment at the Scarborough Spa all those years ago was a very exciting time, plus the lovely people who come back time & time again to see me makes my heart glad.

As long as my health will allow I hope to carry on as usual entertaining both locally and around the country. My dream is to continue to share the wonderful happiness my new wife Eileen has brought me, with the satisfaction that my family are still very close, and share my enthusiasm for good music."

See Howard at Scarborough Spa this summer:
Afternoon Music with the King of the Keyboards - Til 10th September, Monday & Wednesday: 2.30pm: £3
Coffee Dances with Howard Beaumont – Til 5th September, every Friday: 10.30am to 12.30pm, £3
www.scarboroughspa.co.uk

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