Castro Theatre Organ Update

Hegarty on Plans for the Castro’s New World-Class Organ

I predict lots of comments in the negative vein on this article about the replacement for the Wurlitzer in the Casto Theatre in San Francisco. I am myself conflicted about the situation. There are egos involved, to be sure, but more important is that the replacement is a response to a series of sad and inevitable circumstances — to quote Lemony Snicket, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

David Hegarty is not a young man and the Wurlitzer’s owner is not a young man. The article contains photos and images of what this ridiculously large and over-designed organ will be. Its console will be daunting to an organist who has not played the Wanamaker or the Midmer-Losh in Atlantic City. The Castro simply isn’t that big and the effort here is out of balance: “It will be the largest combination pipe-and-digital organ in the world… Allan Harrah, who had the vision of building one of the largest organs in the world was just looking for a place to do it.”

You should know that the previous Wurlitzer was not original to the theatre.

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One Response to Castro Theatre Organ Update

  1. Albert Berry says:

    I really think that they have not taken into account the size of the auditorium. When an organ, digital or pipe, is designed properly it is neither too large nor too small *tonally* for the room it is in. This organ will be tonally huge, and I believe it will be too large for the room.

    I own a digital organ, equivalent to 35 ranks over two manuals and pedal, and it is situated in a room that is 24 feet wide and 12-18 feet deep. It is carpeted with an acoustic tile ceiling (the bedrooms are above the ceiling) and tongue and groove cedar wall finishing. I have my master volume control set to 2/10 of maximum simply because I want that much volume for the soft stops. It is actually quite usable with the minimum volume setting, but my ears are 75+ years old and as long as She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn’t object all is good.

    With four 70 watt audio channels (probably about 200 watts RMS total), if I press the (T) piston or toe stud, it is LOUD, and fills the whole house, not just the room it is in with 29 of those ranks. I cannot imagine what that monster will sound like when some audio freak turns the volume up.

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