Silent No Longer: The Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ Welcomes
First Class Performances by Chris Gorsuch and Jelani Eddington, accompanied by Gabrielino High School Orchestra with Lyn Larsen as Host
Sunday, January 18, 2009 AT 2:00 P.M.
Home to one of the finest Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organs in the country, San Gabriel Mission Playhouse presents a free community concert made possible by the Peter Crotty Foundation and the City of San Gabriel.
SAN GABRIEL (1/02/09) – The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is home to one of the finest Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organs in the country. In partnership with the Peter Crotty Foundation, the City of San Gabriel presents a free community Wurlitzer organ concert and Laurel and Hardy silent film at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse on Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 2:00 p.m.
As the fortunate recipient of recent grants totaling $235,000 from Mr. Peter Crotty, an expert with extensive knowledge in the theater pipe organ world, the Mission Playhouse has been able to completely renovate and upgrade the Wurlitzer over a two year period, and realize the purchase of a projector and movie screen.
Mayor Harry L. Baldwin stated, “To celebrate the renovation and honor our benefactor, Peter Crotty, the community is invited to enjoy an afternoon of Wurlitzer filled fun with first class performances on Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. We take great pride in knowing our Wurlitzer is one of the finest installations in the country and we thank Mr. Crotty for his generosity and vision.”
Originally installed in New York 's RKO Albee Theatre in the early 1920's, the Mighty Wurlitzer was donated to the City of San Gabriel in 1968. “ San Gabriel 's Mighty Wurlitzer has indeed undergone major renovations and upgrades as the instrument has been modernized with the latest technology available”, stated Managing Director Anna Cross. “The overall quality of the sound has been maintained while the many improvements behind-the-scenes will ensure the organ plays on for young and old to enjoy for years to come.”
Admission to the concert is free, and tickets may be obtained by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to San Gabriel Mission Playhouse Wurlitzer Rededication, 320 S. Mission Dr , San Gabriel , CA 91776 , or by calling 626-293-7622. Ticket requests are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The two and one-half hour concert performance and silent film is presented with an intermission.
Peter Lloyd Crotty an expert with extensive knowledge in the theater pipe organ world is the benefactor and generous donor of $235,000 for the complete renovation and upgrade of the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse Wurlitzer Pipe Organ over the past two years, and purchase of a projector and movie screen. A long-time supporter and fan of the Mission Playhouse, Mr. Crotty fondly remembers when the Wurlitzer arrived in 1968. Through the Peter Lloyd Crotty Foundation, his vision of giving back to the community and reaching a new generation of theatre-goers is realized. Modernization of the instrument provides a younger audience with the opportunity to appreciate what he and previous generations were privileged to hear and experience – the sounds of the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.
Chris Gorsuch began formal studies on the organ at age fourteen. A student of Lyn Larsen, Chris gained invaluable knowledge in the areas of registration and phrasing. Many musicians have contributed their influence to Chris’s musical style. Music of the Big Band era is a particular favorite, as well as classical, jazz and the music of the 20’s and 30’s. Chris also has a fascination with electronics. In 1979, he formed his own company with the purpose of designing and manufacturing electronic systems for pipe and electronic organs. The company has created many new and innovative products including digitally sampled sounds and computer software.
Jelani Eddington is an organist of unique and diverse interests. Born in 1974, Jelani grew up in a musical family. Shortly after taking up the piano at age four, Jelani began studying classical piano under the direction of his grandmother. At the age of eight, a trip to hear the 4/42 Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis , Indiana , introduced him to the sounds of the theatre pipe organ. Soon thereafter, he began to take classical organ lessons and studied theatre organ under the direction of John Ferguson, whose skills as a theatre organ instructor have been highly nationally and internationally acclaimed. For over 20 years, Jelani has been presenting theatre organ concerts, featured at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society, and has extensively toured throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Jelani has five recordings to his credit: Discovering the Unit Orchestra, Pipe Organ Extravaganza #2, Rhapsody, Here's Jelani, and Jelani Eddington in Concert. All of these recordings have earned Jelani much respect as a recording artist, and have been nationally and internationally critically acclaimed.
Lyn Larsen began classical piano lessons at age three and began playing the organ at seven years old. Lyn made his concert debut in 1964 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles and, since then, has performed on virtually every important instrument in the United States , Australia , and England . Career highlights include appearances at the Hollywood Bowl, Radio City Music Hall in New York , London ’s Royal Albert Hall and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris . Lyn is also a consultant in the tonal design and layout of both new pipe organ installations and in the restoration of historic instruments all over the United States ; has made over 40 recordings, with the distinction of being the only theatre organ recording ever to make Billboard Magazine's Top Ten CD List.
About the City of San Gabriel
The City of San Gabriel , “Birthplace of the Los Angeles Region” – is a unique, special place. The events that have taken place in San Gabriel for more than 238 years, and the kaleidoscope of peoples and cultures who have called San Gabriel home, have shaped our community into a rich, fascinating modern city. With the founding of San Gabriel Mission Archangel in 1771, San Gabriel became the heart and soul of the Los Angeles region and this great valley that bears its name. The City of San Gabriel is dedicated to preserving the culture, vision and ideals of our heritage. To learn more, visit: www.sangabrielcity.org.
About the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse and Wurlitzer Pipe Organ
The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse (formerly the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium), was built in 1927 by John Steven McGroarty, author of the “Mission Play”. The Mission Play with a cast of 150 players ran for five years, giving a total of 3,298 performances. By 1932 the Playhouse sat empty and unused for a short time until it became a movie theatre, and later, during World War II, a housing shortage converted the dressing rooms into apartments. In the 1940s, a group of San Gabriel residents formed a citizens’ committee with the goal to get the city of San Gabriel to purchase the facility, which it did in August 1945.
With the turn of the millennium fast approaching, the city developed another improvement plan for the theatre that would take it in to the 21st century. The city’s nearly $1.5 million program at the Playhouse involved seismic improvements and repair from the 1994 Northridge earthquake; four separate construction projects completed in 1998; new electrical distribution center, transformer upgrades a new air conditioning and heating system; and architectural surface restoration of the decorative painted surface throughout.
Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ: Most recently, the Playhouse has seen the return of the restored Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and a new speaker / light board. A computer controlled unit providing greater reliability and expanded features, has replaced the original electro-mechanical controls and the addition of high quality computer generated digital samples now enhance the original audio systems. All new electrical circuits, wiring and cabling between the organ pipes and controls bring the electrical aspects up to current code providing a safer and more powerful instrument. Hundreds of pipes that produce the magnificent Wurlitzer sounds have been cleaned and refurbished and HVAC has been installed in the chambers where these pipes are housed to regulate the temperature and humidity enabling more precise and consistent tuning. In addition, the Wurlitzer console has been refinished with gold leaf decorative trim bringing it back to its original sparkling glory.
Located in the heart of the historic San Gabriel Mission District, the Mission Playhouse exterior is patterned after the Mission San Antonio De Padua, with the interior décor a blend of Spanish, Indian and Mexican influences. The 1400 seat theatre is the home of many outstanding performing arts groups, featuring live theatre, music, dance, song and a variety of entertainment for people of all ages and cultures. To learn more, please visit www.missionplayhouse.org.
Sunday, January 18, 2009, AT 2 p.m.
Wurlitzer Organ Rededication/Concert & Silent Film
Admission is free. Information is available by calling the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 626.293.7622
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