Discover the magic of the theater organ.

These American relics hearken back to the days of the silent movie and the ornate palaces in which they were played. As a unit orchestra the theater organ could enhance the moving picture like no other instrument could. Even today, audiences are amazed by the rich and powerful sound these instruments produce--in essence, the first surround sound systems! However, after decades of being cast aside for newer technologies, the theater organ still struggles to find its place amidst today’s multiplexes. While its future is unclear, it is evident that hope lies with the enthusiasts and musicians who work passionately to bring the theater organ’s magic to new audiences.

It must be heard!

People
(in order of appearance)

sballDr. Steven Ball is the Senior Staff Organist at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. He achieved a terminal degree in music from the University of Michigan, being the first to have done so with a degree in Organ Performance, and is currently a faculty member of the Organ Department there. In addition, he travels around the world playing organ concerts and silent film accompaniments.

tstehleTom Stehle is the current secretary of the New York Theatre Organ Society, which he has been actively involved with since 1967. His interest and passion for the theater organ started after joining the faculty of the New York State Military Academy, where he began volunteering on a project to restore the Academy’s 4/33 Moller theater organ.
rringstad

Ralph Ringstad Jr. has served as Organist and Music Director for several churches in northern New Jersey, and accompanies films on the theater organ throughout the Northeast. He began his formal musical training at the age of seven and by the age 17 was performing on the 3/17 Wurlitzer at the Suburbian Restaurant in Wanaque, NJ. Ringstad later earned his degree in music from Ithaca College.

rkrohnRolf Krohn began his musical career after immigrating from Germany to the United States after WWII, landing his first job as a waiter/accordion player at a restaurant in Upstate NY. He later went on to co-own a music store in Middletown. There he sold a variety of instruments, including organs, and taught lessons on the side. Now retired, Krohn still enjoys performing the occasional organ concert.

Places
(in order of appearance)

loewsjerseycityThe Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre is one of the five ‘Wonder Theaters’ in the NYC area designed by the architectural firm Rapp & Rapp in the 1920s. In the late 1980s, after falling into disrepair and almost being destroyed, the Friends of the Loew’s saved the theater. Later, the Garden State Theatre Organ Society replaced the theater's previous Robert Morton ‘Wonder’ organ with an identical instrument. The organ is now played in concerts and accompanies silent films.

robersonThe Roberson Museum houses an original and technologically intact Link Organ. The Link Organ Company of Binghamton, NY specialized in designing and manufacturing coin operated instruments that would play using new technology at the time, including music transcription scrolls. The museum's exhibit of the Link Organ is currently out of commission, as the unit is in need of much restoration in order to be played.
paramount

The Paramount Theatre has been a venue for the theater organ since it first opened in 1930. After being forced to close in 1978, it was purchased by the Arts Council of Orange County and converted into a performing arts center. Even though the original Wurlitzer organ had been removed, the NY Theatre Organ Society was able to successfully replace it with a near identical instrument. It can now be heard in concerts and silent film accompaniments.

forum

The Forum Theatre, originally the Binghamton Theatre, was first opened for vaudeville performances and films. In the summer of 1975, the theatre was converted into the Broome County Performing Arts Center. During that conversion, the Binghamton Theater Organ Society installed a Robert Morton organ inside the theater. The organ is currently played in various musical performances and silent film accompaniments.

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