83-year-old Wurlitzer Band Organ in a 1928 Herschell Carousel

Band Organ Enthusiast Brings Festival to Olcott

To make money, Wurlitzer made a number of items in addition to their world-famous theatre organs. They made musical instruments and other kinds of organs and even colorful, flashing (gaudy) juke boxes. Among the organs they built were indeed the electronic ones you may have seen but also smaller pipe organs run by electric motors. There were band organs, military band organs, and carousel organs. They were loud and aggressive, perfect for getting the attention of the crowds! Read this story about this one at Olcott Beach, New York.

When you listen to Dan Wilke talk about band organs, you can easily recall the magic of the music accompanying carousel rides of your youth. In fact, Wilke is adamant that the two go hand-in-hand. “When young children don’t hear an operating band organ on a carousel, they’re only getting half of the experience,” he said. “A recording just doesn’t do it justice.”

To that end, Wilke keeps the 83-year-old Wurlitzer band organ that accompanies a 1928 Allan Herschell carousel at the Olcott Beach Carousel Park in tip-top shape. Wilke travels from his South Buffalo home to volunteer his time with the organ and operates the park’s carousel and Ferris wheel, as well.

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Lutherans, Muslims, Catholics, and Organs

Organ Donated by Muslims Installed at Former Seminary

I couldn’t read the nameplate, but this story shows how some religions, even today, just have no use for musical instruments. Read the story of a failing organ and the replacement provided by the Muslim congregation who have taken over a closed Lutheran Church.

His research led him to a Lutheran church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which had closed due to declining membership. A Muslim organization had bought the building and was looking to unload the organ, so it advertised it online.  “They had no need of the organ anymore and donated it to us on the condition that we would cover the removal and shipping costs, and that’s how we obtained it,” Winter said.

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What’s Doing in Odessa (video)

Odessa International Festival of Organ Music — Day 1

The long video below is way to pretend that you made the journey to the Organ Festival in Odessa, Ukraine, this year. Don’t worry if you can’t read the language; you can just enjoy the music. With all the worries they have over there, this is all the more impressive.

On May 27 — July 1, 2012, the 2nd International Organ Music Festival took place in Odessa St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Cathedral in Ukraine. Musicians from Munich (Germany), Chisinau (Moldova), Krakow (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic) and Ukrainian Kiev and Odessa performed the masterpieces of G. Schutz, J.S. Bach, M. Musorgskiy, A. Vivaldi, W.A. Mozart, K. Martinek and other composers.

The city’s only acting concert organ is situated in Odessa St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Cathedral. The weekly organ concerts have already become famous throughout the city, and over 800 citizens and guests of the city visited the concerts the last year.

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“I’m Visiting Here, and I’d Like to Play the Organ, Please”

Visitor from South Africa to Play Organ at Greene Memorial

How many of us has done this?

“At the end of June, Cummins received a surprise email from Ruan Philippus Rudolph Theron, an engineer for Sasol Synfuels in South Africa. Theron wrote that he was coming to Salem for training at General Electric. The organist for his local church, Theron used the Internet to look up pipe organs in Roanoke and learned about Greene Memorial’s 88-year-old three-manual organ built by famed American pipe organ builder Ernest Skinner. He asked Cummins if he might possibly be allowed to play it.”

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Schlueter Returns First Presbyterian’s Organ


Jacksonville Church Celebrates Pipe Organ’s Return

Read about the return of this organ to this Jacksonville, Alabama, church.

“After a long period of separation, First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville is welcoming back its newly restored pipe organ. The instrument resided at the A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company of Lithonia, Ga., for nine months while being refurbished. To celebrate its return, the church will host a public dedication service and organ concert at 4 p.m. Sunday.”

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Chicago Just Can’t Get Enough Bach

Bach Organ Project: Complete Organ Works in 10 Concerts

The question then arises: When was the last time you heard all of these pieces as a concert cycle? Bach organ enthusiasts will be able to do just that in the fall, when some of the area’s, and the nation’s, leading organists will take turns exploring this vast body of works – more than 16 hours of music, in all – performed by 30 organists on nine magnificent organs across the city and suburbs.

The WFMT Bach Organ Project is the fulfillment of a nearly decade-long dream of the fine arts radio station’s general manager, Steve Robinson, to present the complete Bach organ works as a community-wide effort.

This is great news for music lovers, organ lovers, and Bach lovers in the Chicago area. It would be nice is something akin to this were conceived for other worthy composers once in a while.

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An Organ for the Chapel in the Crypt

Organ Finds New Home in Lewiston

In Saco, Maine, there was a pipe organ in the Notre Dame de Lourdes Church. After 50 years, it was moved and installed “in the crypt chapel of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston. The organ was blessed and dedicated during an all-French Mass celebrated in the chapel June 28.” Notre Dame de Lourdes Church closed in 2009.

“The organ was dismantled last year and refurbished and installed at its new location by Faucher Organ Company, owned by Robert Faucher of Biddeford. Faucher said only the pipes were salvaged from the organ because the electrical and winding systems were deteriorated. Faucher said the pipe organ consisted of six ranks, each rank representing a specific tone such as flute or strings, and 61 pipes comprise each of the six ranks, totaling 366 pipes.”

Do you have a crypt chapel with an organ? Write and send a link to it. The only churches I know of that have crypts, much less with chapels and organs, are the really big ones, and it would be interesting to see what kind of variety there is.

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Patrick Scott Wins the AGO Improvisation Competition (audio)

Charlotte Organist Wins National Improv Competition

It goes without saying that we here in Charlotte are proud of our own Patrick Scott for his first place position in this prestigious competition. Note: The organ in the photo is not in Charlotte; it’s the Wicks in nearby Davidson Presbyterian Church. (See details on Page 61 of Pipe Organs of Charlotte.” Wicks rebuilt and added to it (2006) since this specification.)

“Charlotte organist Patrick Scott won the 2014 National Competition in Organ Improvisation, held June 26 in Boston. In addition to the competition’s $3,000 first prize, Scott took the audience prize, which earned him an additional $1,500.”

Just for fun, listen for the reporter mention the “North American Guild of Organists.”

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Somebody Is Playing Gaul’s First Peer Gynt Suite

“I received an email that featured an organist playing this piece [First Peer Gynt Suite] on a huge concert organ. I do occasionally do concerts at my church, and always am looking for something new that I have not played before.” —Montana, USA

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Photos from the Past Can Puzzle the Brain

Way We Were: Organ Music in the 1970s

Solving a photo mystery is always fun. Here’s a letter from someone who will shed some light on this one.

I write in reference to Memory Lane on The Way We Were on Saturday, June 21, question four. This photograph has appeared, to my memory, at least three times previously in The Sentinel with the same caption, “Mr E Felton Rapley at the Wurlitzer organ in the Regent Cinema”. Yes, the picture is indeed of E Felton Rapley, but the three manual console shown is definitely not the Hanley Regent organ.

The Wurlitzer at the Regent was a smaller model, having two manuals.

Do you think it was a Christie?

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