On Thursday, May 9, in morning and early-evening performances, audiences of all ages enjoyed the sounds of the Mighty Wurlitzer in the manner for which it was originally created! Organist Clark Wilson accompanied the 1928 silent film Steamboat Bill, Jr.. Wilson is considered a leading practitioner in the art of silent picture scoring, and his knowledge of the art, along with his mastery of the theatre organ, created the perfect ambiance for the 1928 silent comedy film.
SPMH president Don Siekmann welcomed the audience to each performance, describing SPMH and how the organization joined with organ expert Ron Wehmeier and the local theatre organ society to refurbish the Mighty Wurliter and install it in the Ballroom of Music Hall.
In movie theatre style, SPMH provided free popcorn to everyone who attended. Wilson took the stage and warmed up the crowd with Georgie Girl, the title song from a film by the same name. Other film songs he played included the themes from Beauty and the Beast and Bells Are Ringing. He also performed a medley ''It's Yesterday Once More,'' which included songs from the 70s and 80s.
Before the movie started, Wilson described for the younger audience members the history of silent films and how theatre organs came to be the entertainment choice. He explained that organists were the stars of the era and that, when "talkies" were created, how these same talent individuals moved to Hollywood to score major motion pictures.
Clark Wilson has been the resident organist at the Ohio Theatre for the Performing Arts since 1992, and has led courses in silent-film accompaniment at Indiana University. He has studied and written about the art of improvisation and scoring for silent films, and his scores are historically correct in style.
SPMH wishes to thank series sponsor, The Walter and Olivia Kiebach Charitable Foundation.
Event sponsors are PNC and Riverpoint Capital Management and WMKV is media partner.