Waves Of Wurlitzer Excitement Around Great Salt Lake

The 2/11 Wurlitzer in Salt Lake City's Capitol Theater was a rarely seen feature until the Associate Director of Salt Lake County's Arts, David Barber, came up with the idea to relocate the console to the 2nd floor balcony, and to play it for the public with a first ever WURLITZER WEEK. WURLITZER WEEK will take place September 15, 16 and 17th, 2009 12:00 – 1:00 PM at the Salt Lake City Capitol Theatre, located at 50 West 200 South. Admission is FREE.

The console had been stored in the basement all the years since the theater was built. Each time the organ was to be played, it had to be brought up on the backstage elevator, rolled across the stage and plugged in to eight bulky cables with multi-pin telephone connectors.

Now the console has a permanent home in the balcony box next to the stage at audience left. Its back is to the proscenium wall, and its colorful stop tabs are in direct line of sight with the entire audience, allowing the artist to see the stage and screen, and have direct interaction with patrons. No longer out of sight and out of mind, the Wurlitzer beckons. Its highly visible location makes it an 'elephant in the room' demanding notice other than sight alone.

David saw the best way to introduce this seldom seen treasure to our citizens is by an informal free-to-the-public lunch-hour event. Wurlitzer Week will attract much attention, and it has only one chance to make a good first impression on the public. Different organists now can become acquainted with the console, and share their discovery with the encouragement of audience applause.

Among those first to participate is Salt Lake City's famous Tabernacle Choir Principal Organist, Richard Elliott. Richard has theatre organ background that includes performances at Radio City Music Hall. We hope to hear from his theatre organ student who has performed the Christmas programs with the Rockettes. Other local organists that will play are David Massey and Douglas Dieu, both principal organists at the famed Organ Loft in Salt Lake City.

An hour to the North of Salt Lake City is Ogden, Utah, where Wurlitzer Wednesday has been regularly enjoyed by the public. Hour long concerts are presented free to the elderly and their caretakers, and two dollars for others, enjoying Peery's Egyptian Theater's 3/23 Wurlitzer. Information can be found on the Theatre web site: www.peerysegyptiantheater.com. Mr. Michael Welsh and Douglas Dieu are Principal organists.

These outreach programs will invigorate the art forms of theatre pipe organs in Utah. The Edison Street/ Organ Loft's 5/34 Wurlitzer, the Capitol Theater's 2/11 Wurlitzer, and Peery's Egyptian Theater's 3/23 Wurlitzer, are the three Wurlitzers presently performing. Soon, to the North, in Logan, Utah, Michael Ballam's 3/16 Wurltizer will grace the Utah Theater now owned by the Utah Festival Opera, making FOUR Mighty Wurltizers along the Wastch Front.

Our local ATOS chapter is lobbying City officials to install another Mighty Wurlitzer for the large Broadway-style Theater planned for downtown Salt Lake City. Then, a 5-Wurlizer phenomenon will place theatre organ art forms among the fine performing arts in this art-oriented city, already known globally for its famous classical organs.

Blaine Gale & Shane Franz, Great Salt Lake Chapter, ATOS