with the Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Organ
May 12, 2015, audience members entered Music Hall's Ballroom and discovered a Movie Palace! Organist Clark Wilson provided accompaniment on the Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, as the audience enjoyed silent film clips featuring Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and Buster Keaton.
Clark Wilson is a busy Renaissance man, both artist and technician. He serves as Resident Organist and Organ Conservator at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, tours regularly - both nationally and internationally - performing concerts and accompaniment to silent films and holding workshops. Additionally, runs his own pipe organ business and has been involved with more than 100 organ installations. Indeed, Clark has is the only person to have been awareded both Technician of the Year and Organist of the Year from the American Theatre Organ Society. As one of the finest practitioners of the art of silent picture scoring, he entertained the Music Hall audience with period music, perfectly timed to fit the action on the screen.
Silent film accompaniment is the original purpose of the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. The organ was installed in 1927 in Cincinnati's RKO Albee Theatre. The practice lasted only a decade; with the advent of "talkies" the organ was used for the Albee's stage shows. Read about the long and storied history of the Wurlitzer.
No performance on the Albee Mighty Wurlitzer is complete without acknowledging Ron Wehmeier, the pipe organ technician extraordinaire who refurbished and maintains the organ. Not only did Ron refurbish the Wurlitzer and install it in 2008/2009, but he also worked on the organ when it was in the RKO Albee Theatre, the organ's original home. See photos and read about his work and the installation in Music Hall's Ballroom. Ron attends the Mighty Wurlitzer concerts in Music Hall and will conduct tours of the organ installation during intermission.
The Music Hall technical crew, under the direction of Technical Director Gary Kidney and aided by the fragrance of fresh popcorn, transformed the Ballroom into a wonderful, colorful theatrical venue.
Photographs provided by Philip Groshong
Philip Groshong Photography.