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Dennis James playing the glass armonica

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Feb. 25, 2010 at 10:36 am with 2 Comments »
February 26, 2010 10:51 am

If any of you read my story last Sunday on local musician and Renaissance Man Dennis James, you’ll realize that the chance to see and hear someone playing the glass armonica is both right on our doorstep (James lives at the Harmon Lofts downtown) and very rare (he’s one of only a few players in the world, and is moving soon to the East Coast.)

For those who haven’t read the story: The glass armonica is an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin, and involves a set of concentric glass bowls played by rubbing the rims with a wet finger. Amazing sound, and really tricky to play. James is a maestro not only of this instrument but of many others, including theater organ.

Anyhow, I took my own (rather jiggly) video during my interview with James, and here it is.

For a much better view, go to his concert with the Odeon Quartet at 7:30 p.m. March 8 at the Seattle Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave., Seattle. $20/$10, includes post-concert reception. 206-652-4255,www.townhallseattle.org

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. Sorry to read about your emergency surgery, Rosemary! Since the corrections to the article look to be delayed, I’ll post here the things we’ve been discussing. First, I have never played at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, and the player cited as thought to have been me who did play an armonica there was William Zeitler. Second, I had frequent correspondence with the Tacoma Glass Museum Education Department before the museum opened, and then again in 2002, 2005 and, most recently 2009 suggesting a glass armonica illustrated lecture to be presented at the museum on Ben Franklin’s birthday in 2010, sadly yet another of their missed opportunities. Finally, your article stated I was fired by Seattle Theatre Group executive director Josh LaBelle from my post as House Organist for the Paramount Theatre. This is simply not true, and the correct explanation may be viewed on the theatre’s Wikipedia page: “[[Dennis James (musician)|Dennis James]] served as house organist of Seattle’s Paramount Theatre from 1999 to August, 2009 at which point he resigned the port signifying the conclusion of a 10 year all-professional service to the theatre. The reason for the resignation was the onset of public announcement by local unpaid amateur organ players performing service assignments by a Seattle Theatre Organ Group associate staff member eliminating a portion of the professional, paid performance duties within the AFM union supervised and negotiated position. James continues as the theatre’s contracted silent film score composer/arranged and performer. Starting in mid-June, 2010 the Seattle Theatre Group began paying James for services rendered while simultaneously engaging for the improvised film performance services of Jim Riggs, a non-local, non-union member, self-taught player effectively dismantling the remaining prior historic preservation emphasis and professional components of the organ use in the theatre.”

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