The Organ in Madison Square Garden

A New Sound for the Winter Seasons

Here’s a story of a new Roland organ in one of the largest and most visible arenas in the United States. Just think of the thousands who will hear this live organ sound instead of the recorded pop music that has become the norm. Also fun is the 360 degree video; you can see his entire studio!

Ray Castoldi’s 27th season as the organist for the Knicks and 25th for the Rangers has already been like no other, largely because of the handsome Roland AT-900 organ that now hunches in a tiny booth five stories above the arena floor at Madison Square Garden.

Compared to a mere keyboard, which Castoldi had played at the Garden since 1989, the Roland, known generically as a theater organ, is a step up in class as well as a step back in time, to when ballparks and arenas were fitted with booming organs that provided warmer, richer, deeper sounds to sporting events.

Further in the article is this heartwarming bit:

Castoldi is happy to report that the number of arenas with live organists is growing, to 22 at his last count. Four N.H.L. arenas now use theater organs, including the United Center in Chicago; the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul; and Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., where the 24-year-old Lightning installed a pipe organ in 2010 for a more authentic hockey experience. “There’s like a revival going on,” Castoldi said.

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One Response to The Organ in Madison Square Garden

  1. George Murphy says:

    I believe the “Purist” movement of the early 1950s, which lasted well into the 1980s, had a lot to do with the disintegration of the other areas of the organ genre.

    My first actual organ LP was titled, “French Organ Music,” a 1949-vintage Columbia recording from E. Power Biggs done at St. Paul’s Chapel – Columbia University. In the liner notes it makes mention of the, “indignities heaped upon the King of Instruments from the ‘theater organ, and, the lugubrious sounds often spewing forth from the closing episodes of the radio and TV soap operas.” I am paraphrasing here what I read many years ago, but close enough.

    The “Purist” movement did not end here, the American Romantic organ suffered as a result. It is here we see a riff between G. Donald Harrison and E. M. Skinner.

    It may be coincidental, but I believe it was the beginning of the end of what may have been left of the arena organ. (Theater organs were already in jeopardy with the advent of ‘sound’ movies.

    I am thrilled, however, to see a possible resurgence of these added attractions to sporting events – a marriage of aesthetics and athletics. Hey, Mets fans, remember Jane Jarvis?

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