Josh Stafford is an accomplished organ recitalist who has been a mainstay in the orchestral music scene for years now – receiving his Master Of Music degree from Yale School of Music in 2012. However, in 2020, he shot to viral fame when his cover of a Queen classic earned him millions of views on YouTube – bringing his playing to a new audience.
But even for a man of his talent, tackling a song like Bohemian Rhapsody is no easy feat. The 1975 hit was the lead single from the Queen’s album A Night At The Opera – a widely renowned masterpiece that is famous for its multiple sections and wild dynamic shifts. Somehow, Stafford manages to capture the song’s magic on one instrument.
The organ Josh plays is the largest pipe organ ever built which is also listed in the Guinness book of world records. It is located in Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall. The instrument boasts 33,112 pipes, 447 ranks and 7 manuals when it was completed in 1929 by Midmer-Losh.
Playing the organ to a high standard is one hell of a triumph – but for Josh Stafford, his two hands were not enough to fully get his point across. As the song’s legendary rock section kicks in – you’ll notice that this virtuosic performance actually involves Stafford using his feet to play another set of bass keys beneath the organ.
The instrument in question is actually the largest pipe organ on the planet – with a whopping seven keyboards up top, not including the set below.
If you’re looking to hear Stafford playing something a bit more traditional, look no further than his wonderful take on the Christmas carol ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ – a fitting choice of song for a man who is the the Director of Music at the Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida as well as the Director of Sacred Music at the Chautauqua Institute, New York.
Apart from his reputation as a recitalist, Stafford is also a highly-skilled improv player and silent-film accompanist.
For all of the full-band performances we cover, there’s something pretty remarkable about an organ recital.
It’s an instrument that is more versatile than most realise – and Joshua Stafford is as good as anyone at proving that point!