The Wurlitzer Organ Trust Announces Its 2010 Season

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Theatre pipe organs were created around the early nineteens and into the twenties to replace the costly live orchestras that were accompanying the silent movies. They are indeed pipe organs but are very different from their church or classical brothers, as the pipes on "theatre organs" are voiced to recreate the tonal sounds of the orchestra.  If you glance at the stop rail on the console of a typical theatre organ there would be names you would easily recognise; Clarinet, Oboe, Trumpet, Tuba, Strings, Flutes etc.  Also, like any good orchestra, the theatre organ has a comprehensive percussion section; Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Harp, Piano, Drums Cymbals etc.  However as these organs pre-date the digital age, these percussions are actual "real" full-scale instruments, operated by a very comprehensive control system. 

The Wurlitzer Company in the USA pioneered the concept and soon many other pipe organ builders were creating their own variation, but through remarkable marketing even back then in the 1920s, to the man & woman in the street, if their theatre had a pipe organ installed, then it must be a Wurlitzer!
 
Here in Auckland, the Wurlitzer Organ Trust of Auckland has in its care one of Auckland's historic Wurlitzer organs, ex-the Regent Theatre in Queen St.  The organ has been entertaining Auckland at the Hollywood Cinema in Avondale now for twenty seven years!  The Trust was formed in 1993 to take on the ownership of this amazing organ, and with financial support from the community, has had the "Hollywood Wurlitzer" refurbished and enlarged, making it now a very versatile concert instrument.  Professional theatre organists are engaged to visit Auckland to present seven shows per year at the Hollywood, and the Trust has established itself as having a presentation of quality, which in turn has seen funding from the City Council and business community for the "Pops on Pipes" season of shows.
 
With a whole generation of people who never experienced the magic of these unique organs in movie theatres and who only associate "church" or "classical" with the "pipe organ", the Trust has diversified its shows to include other mediums alongside the Wurlitzer to entice these people to check the Wurlitzer out.  For example, this last year saw the Hollywood Wurlitzer being featured alongside keyboard instruments, 1920's style 15pce dance band, piano and vocal.
A typical theatre organ show will feature music from the 1920s to today, with one or two “light classical” pieces, a selection or two from popular shows, and maybe the odd obscure number that you hadn’t heard before — all in all a true “Pops Concert” that would appeal to anyone who enjoys good music and entertainment.  At the Hollywood Cinema, the added dimension of video projection enables the audience to see "close up" on the giant screen, the organist making music on this unique pipe organ - truly a one-man unit orchestra.