Good news! I have been confirmed as an artist at the 2011 American Theater Organ Society national convention. My role is to provide insight and demonstration of the Roland digital organ. This annual function will be held in Providence, RI. at the downtown Westin Hotel. The dates are June 30th — July 4th. For many years the volunteers and contributors of ATOS have worked tirelessly to maintain theater pipe organ installations throughout the country. The effort is huge in that many of these instruments are either vintage or have not been serviced adequately through the years. So the necessity of having a small army of dedicated technicians who spend a copious amount of time making sure the console, wiring and pipes themselves are in working order is absolutely crucial.
The chapter hosting the event is EMCATOS (Eastern Massachusetts chapter of ATOS) and the four-day convention will feature various famous theater organists performing in the general area. Reservations show some 600 people attending ready to listen to their favorite players. So you may ask what pertinence the Roland Atelier organ has in this environment. Good question…..
With the passing of time, traditional theater organs have seen their hay day being integrated into some of the most prestigious venues in the world. Their sound is utterly unique, created by thousands of vertical pipes being activated by the rely system emanating from the organ console. Acquiring the organ itself is a very costly undertaking plus maintenance issues are sometimes prohibitive. However, though rare, these complex, elaborate installations do appear in large homes. There is truly no substitution for a situation of this caliber but there now is a “second best”, more doable solution for those folks craving theater organ instrumentation. It is the Roland Atelier organ which features digitally sampled theater organ ranks. Although these registrations are only one facet of this instrument, the variety and combination of theater organ sounds make the Atelier organ a satisfying more practical replacement for the real thing.
My mission at the convention will be to present and educate the attendees on technology that makes it possible to virtually replicate voicing typical of the theater pipe organ. I’ll also be performing at their gala banquet on Sunday evening. This will be fun. I anticipate the majority of people interested in knowing more about this subject will be genuinely impressed with the realism emanating from the Roland organ.
I can’t wait. For more information about this year’s ATOS convention, please log onto www.atos.org/convention
I use the term Theatre Organ or Pipe organ on a regular basis. I have been asked recently what the differences are between the two or if there are differences. There are a occasions that I do performances on both types of organs as well as the new Roland Atelier among others. I hope that this explanation helps you understand the different types of organs on the market and the different types of organs I play on a regular basis around the country.
“theater pipe organ”; “theatre pipe organ”; “theater organ”; “theatre organ”===originally meaning a multi-manual organ powered by bellows powering the organ with leads to large chambers housing various sizes of pipes, usually high up to the right and left of the console. These are connected by relay wires attached to the various rows (ranks) of pipes. The shorter and more slender the pipe, the higher and thinner the pitch. The problem is tremendous maintenance and venue issues. After the “talkies” came in, folks wanted to view movies, not just listen to organ music so the installations…with few exceptions…went silent and neglected for a number of years. However, gradually enthusiasts volunteered to resurrect the organs, even enhancing the tonal variety by combining ranks from different instruments. In other words, those that were in utter disrepair became part of other more sustainable situations.
The bottom line is that today there are some 150 theater organs in working order….many in the Bay area (Redwood City, the Castro, etc.) There is a group of followers who travel for hours to attend an event involving an artist playing a theater pipe organ. Their national association is the ATOS, American Theater Organists Society. These folks are exuberant in their desire and devotion to the theater piped organs still in existence. Nowadays, some of the sound creation is actually retrieved from electronic means. For example, the Fullerton (CA) Theater console has integrated a small Roland bank of sound tablets into the registration area…very unobtrusive, but still it’s there, I’ve played on it. For many years this would be a sacrilege but people are beginning to understand that the life span of these organs is growing near its end and preservation of the sound they love is crucial.
I am going to go on to more information in the following blogs about how I became involved in this industry and how each organ is different.