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MMD > Archives > December 2009 > 2009.12.06 > 02Prev  Next

Roll-playing Theater Organs
By Greg Graham

Someone please check my fuzzy memory, but the old Philadelphia
Convention Hall near University of Pennsylvania had a large classical-
theater hybrid Möller organ with a roll player.  I saw and heard it
playing at the ATOS convention in Philadelphia in the 1990s.

The organ had two consoles: one classical, one theatrical.  Some ranks
were shared, and others were only available on the appropriate console.
The roll player unit was in a small second-floor room and looked
something like an old floor-model Philco radio, only with a spoolbox
instead of a tuning dial.

We heard humans performing on both consoles, and the roll player.
All three input devices produced distinctly different ensemble sounds.
I liked the roll players registration the best of the three.

I've not been back since then, and I read the Hall was demolished in
2005, but it was a thing of beauty in the 1990s.

Per Wikipedia:  "The Auditorium's M.P. Möller 86-rank pipe organ, built
in 1931, was removed just prior to the building's demolition and placed
in Pennsylvania Hall in temporary storage.  In October 2006 the organ
was donated to the University of Oklahoma's American Organ Institute
where it will be restored and become the centerpiece of their music

Maybe someone familiar with U of OK can fill us in.  I see a photo of
the organ looking like something from an "Indiana Jones" movie at the
AOI web site:

Greg Graham, RPT
Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania

(Message sent Sun 6 Dec 2009, 04:47:32 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Organs, Roll-playing, Theater

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