Tivoli's Mighty Organ To Be On Display At Showing Of Silent Film The 'General'

Friday, August 1, 2014

This could be called “The Year of the Pipe Organ” in Chattanooga.  The historic Austin Organ at the Municipal Auditorium celebrated its 90th anniversary concert on July 1, thanks to the Chattanooga Music Club and now it’s time to feature the Tivoli Theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.

Installed in 1924, this classic theatre organ provided music for silent films, played for audience sing-alongs, and presented the popular music of the day.  Restored and expanded in the 1980’s, the organ is ready for its 90th birthday celebration, and it will be a trip back in time.  The Wurlitzer will provide the background music for one of the greatest silent films ever produced, Buster Keaton’s classic Civil War tale, The General.

The movie tells the story of the famous locomotive – with historic ties to Chattanooga – and while there is drama and excitement in the story, it’s the great Keaton at his comedic best.

The show is Saturday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $7.

In the 1920’s, Wurlitzer was the “name that means music to millions,” and the Mighty Wurlitzer theatre pipe organs were in great theatres everywhere, including the Tivoli.

To create the mood music accompanying the great film, Ken Double, president and chief executive of the American Theatre Organ Society, will travel from his home in Atlanta to perform at the Tivoli Theatre. 

"It’s wonderful that this organ still resides in its original home,” says Mr. Double, “and to use it for its intended purpose, make music for silent films, is great fun.”

This concert will also be the catalyst to raise funds for the ongoing maintenance of this 90-year-old music-making machine.  Volunteers have kept the organ alive, but the costs involved can add up quickly.  The theatre pipe organ is distinctive from its church counterparts in that real xylophones, glockenspiels, drums and castanets and more play from the organ console.  And keeping all those mechanical working parts working is a daunting task faithfully accomplished by these volunteer theatre organ lovers.

Tickets are available at the Municipal Auditorium box office, or online at www.chattanoogaonstage.com

Contact Chattanooga Music Club's 2nd VP "Buddy Shirk" locally for more information at 499-0600 or via email buddy@summittpianos.com.

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