Bluegrass Chapter: American Theatre Organ Society

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© 2018
Bluegrass Chapter
of the
American Theatre
Organ Society
Buster Keaton Header Graphic The Bluegrass Chapter of The American Theatre Organ Society is co-sponsoring a gala event and fundraiser at The Kentucky Theater together with The Lexington Chapter of The American Guild of Organists. The event is Sunday evening, October 7, beginning at 7pm.

New York theatre organist John Baratta will accompany the silent film COLLEGE starring Buster Keaton. The show will begin at 7pm with a 45-minute organ concert followed by a 15-minute singalong (with words on the theater's screen) as they did in the 1920's. Following intermission, Mr. Baratta will then accompany the silent film.

Tickets are $20 available from the Kentucky Theater box office or from members of the chapter. ALL 800 SEATS AT THE THEATER WILL BE SOLD, SO GET YOUR TICKETS NOW !!

What ??

Theater organs were designed to accompany silent films in the early 1900's. Unlike a church pipe organ, theater pipe organs are set up like a small orchestra with sound effects such as car horns, doorbells, whistles, bells, and drums. The Wurlitzer organ we are restoring was installed in The Kentucky Theater in 1926 Removed during a theater renovation, it now needs to be rebuilt and reinstalled where it can once again be heard and enjoyed.

About Theater Pipe Organs

A theater pipe organ has real sounds such as trumpets, drums, car horns, doorbells, violins, wood blocks, and cymbals. It also has beautiful sounds such as flutes, oboe, clarinet, marimba harp, and tuned sleigh bells. No other instrument provides these real sounds from mechanical and electrical action. There are no recorded or sampled sounds here!!

Brief History

Governor Ernie Fletcher signed Senate Bill 148 on March 18, 2005 designating The Kentucky Theater Wurlitzer organ in Lexington as the Official Theatre Pipe Organ of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

As the original organ for this theater, it is one of only a handful of American theater pipe organs still available and intact to be restored and hopefully be reinstalled its original home. The Kentucky Theater was recently refurbished to highlight its 1920's grand movie palace glory. It is our hope to work with its owners in the future to reinstall the restored Wurlitzer pipe organ to its original home.

Bottom Line

Our ultimate goal is to restore it to its original home, The Kentucky Theater in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. Once restored, we will begin negotiations with the owners of the theater for installation.

In addition to accompanying silent films (which are making a comeback these days), the organ will be used for concerts, to teach students theater organ techniques, and to provide music prior to the beginning of the movie playing at the theater.

First: Restoration!

Restoration will focus on rebuilding the wind chests that collect the air that blows through the pipes to make sounds, repairing any damaged pipes, getting the percussions, bells, etc. working again, and connecting everything together to work as a unit from the console where the organist sits.

How You Can Help!

This project needs your help for funding the restoration process. And, depending on your musical, mechnical, or crafting skills, there will be hands-on opportulnities to participate directly in the restoration process. You've heard it before: "It takes a village..." — and this child wants to live and make beautiful music and supporting sound.
  • Donate — learn how to here.
  • Get on our mailing list. We'll not flood you with endless appeals, but simply keep in touch so you will know how the project is going. Sign up here
  • Join us on Facebook. — here is the link