Of Travels, New Projects, and New Instruments...

Wednesday, March 23rd 2011

ATOS Prez Blog...March 25, 2011

As always, there is a lot going on with a lot of projects involving a lot of ATOS folks!
I have just wrapped up a visit to Massachusetts, and it’s been amazing. EMCATOS, the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter, is most definitely ready for this summer’s convention.
Bob Evans, Don Phipps, Len Beyersdorfer, Dick Hanverger, Bruce Hager and a whole bunch of the chapter’s enthusiastic members are right on schedule for what should be a fantastic convention.
While finishing a CD at the Babson College 4/17 Wurlitzer, I had a chance to get a sneak-peek at the new installation at the Hanover Center in Worcester. Since the Clark Wilson/Carlton Smith tonal finishing effort, this big 4/35 Wurlitzer, in an elegant, handsome setting, will be a spectacular venue (see article in current Theatre Organ).
The organ is BIG, rich, lush and wonderful.
More importantly, the Hanover’s Executive Director Troy Siebels is most definitely theatre organ friendly, and is showcasing the instrument for the public whenever possible. The convention concerts will mark the actual formal debut, but audiences have been treated to some pre-show music several times over the many months.
EMCATOS is going to a VERY busy chapter, because right after the convention, the Summer Youth Camp invades Massachusetts. And right after that, the Technical Experience (the second annual) comes to town. Yikes!!
My travels included a stop in Norman, OK and a chance to hear Simon Gledhill at the console of the University of Oklahoma’s “mini-Mo,” the 14-rank Moller theatre organ.
As usual, Simon was spectacular. 
Partnering with the Stan Kann Scholarship Fund (headed up by St. Louis Fox owner Mary Strauss), ATOS was pleased to present the first annual Stan Kann Scholarship award to Rachel Foster, a student at OU with a great interest in theatre organ and specifically silent film presentation. We look forward to this program and the annual scholarships, and cannot wait for the chance to hear new, budding talent come out of this program.
Speaking of budding talent, Indianapolis’ Justin Stahl played a wonderful chapter program at the Alabama Theatre’s “Big Bertha” in Birmingham, and really hit the high notes with new music. And I mean, like. BRAND NEW music that knocks the socks off of the 18-19-20 year olds who would never have believed one could play Africa and other tunes popular with the ipod set on a Wurlitzer.
Before the month is out, we will have the opportunity to welcome a brand new venue and brand new Barton organ into our midst. The Grand Theatre in Fitzgerald, GA (south and east of Macon about an hour or so) is managed by Jon Durkovic who LOVES the theatre organ. And better yet, he PLAYS the organ. March 26th will have marked the debut of a 3/18 Barton donated to the theatre by John Near. He rescued the original 3/10 from the Orpheum Theatre in his hometown of Galesburg, IL, installed it in the family home, and after some 40 years there, it was time to find the organ a new home.
Installation by the A. E. Schleuter Co. of Atlanta, headed up by John Tanner, with specifications by the multi-talented Jelani Eddington, who plays the premier concert.
After the trip to Fitzgerald, GA, I’ll be home for a bit working with fellow Atlanta chapter members as we prepare a bid for the 2013 ATOS convention.
All this while Strategic Planning continues to march forward...the new website is unveiled (as you see here)...and we prepare to launch a whole new program on Theatre Organ Radio. More on that soon!
Get to a concert! Take advantage of the half-price membership deal and bring a new member on board!! Help your chapter where you can. And get to EMCATOS-land for this summer’s convention!! Chat with you soon.