The Dedication of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ

Ron Rhode at the Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Organ in Cincinnati Music Hall From the moment he sat down at the console, organist Ron Rhode had the rapt attention of the sell-out crowd in Music Hall's ballroom for the dedication concert of the Albee Wurlitzer Organ on Saturday, November 28, 2009. While a classically-trained organist, his repertoire of old favorites from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s -- with a few ''newer'' selections, including an Elvis Presley hit and a number from the Broadway hit Wicked -- showed off the organ's range and depth. See the songlist from the concert.

Other crowd favorites included the Latin beat of ''See You in C-U-B-A,'' ''Mystics of the Noble Shrine,'' the playful tune ''The Jack in the Box,'' and ''Caprice Viennois,'' Fritz Kriesler's old WLW ''Moon River'' theme. ''It was an honor to be here,'' he said, adding that this concert was one of the highlights of his 36-year career.

Steve Loftin, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Arts Association which operates Music Hall for the city, read a proclamation from Mayor Mark Mallory declaring November 28 as ''Mighty Wurlitzer Organ Day'' in Cincinnati.

Not only were all the original concert tickets sold, but the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall decided to add another 100 seats to the ballroom -- tickets which were sold within a day! Despite the sunny weather and other holiday attractions, every seat was filled, and some people were standing.

Ron Rhode, SPMH president Norma Petersen, and Ron Wehmeier
Organist Ron Rhode (left) with Norma Petersen, president of SPMH, and SPMH member Ron Wehmeier

Left to right: SPMH member Maureen Dillon, Bill McKim and SPMH Recording Secretary Karen McKim
Left to right: SPMH member Maureen Dillon, Bill McKim and SPMH Recording Secretary Karen McKim with the Commemorative Program

Adelaide Cawein (left) and Nancy Hellman
Adelaide Cawein (left) and Nancy Hellman arrived early to get good seats. Adelaide had once played the Wurlitzer when it was in the Emery

Joyce Van Wye and Norma Petersen
Joyce Van Wye, co-founder and former president of SPMH with current president Norma Petersen
Guests looking at Scott Santangelo's display of photos from the RKO Albee Theatre in Cincinnati
Guests look at photos of the RKO Albee Theatre, a display created by Music Hall Manager Scott Santangelo

Joe Perin, Ron Rhode and Pat Perin
Left to Right: Joe Perin, Ron Rhode, Pat Perin. Joe and Pat Perin rescued beautiful objects from the RKO Albee before it was torn down and donated them to Music Hall for the ballroom

the crowd patiently waiting for the start of the concert
Wurlitzer enthusiasts fill the ballroom at Music Hall as they patiently wait for the concert to begin

Ron Rhode plays an encore selection
Following a well-deserved standing ovation, organist Ron Rhode plays an encore selection, "Whispering"


See the songlist from the Dedication Concert of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ in Cincinnati's Music Hall

See photos of the installation of the Wurlitzer in the Music Hall Ballroom

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