Wurlitzer Pipe Organ

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The story of the Wurlitzer organ for the Hilbert Circle Theatre begins with a major monetary donation by Miss Sally Reahard's estate to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for a Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ. The instrument for this project, Opus 2155, a stock style 240 Wurlitzer orchestral organ of 13 ranks and 7 percussion was originally installed in the Warner Theatre, Youngstown, OH. In 1931, it was donated to the ISO by the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society through the efforts of Mr. Timothy Needler.

The Hilbert Circle Wurlitzer Pipe Organ presented a unique challenge versus that of a typical symphonic pipe organ installation. The builder selected for the project was Indianapolis based Calton Smith Pipe Organ Resorations. Few companies are experienced in the resoration of Wurlitzer instruments of the orchestral unit type. Basic requirements had to be satisfied that the organ would perform equally well in both theatrical and symphonic capacities. It was evident that some augmentation would be necessary to the core instrument to achieve the task.

The original instrument has now been enlarged and augmented with eleven additional ranks of pipes to support use in those symphonic works that employ pipe organ in the scoring. The organ is 3 manuals and pedal with 24 ranks of pipes (total 1,676 pipes), 7 tuned percussion instruments and 21 traps/effects. The organ was used for the first time in concert on Oct. 23 & 24 for the playing of Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 (“Organ Symphony”).

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