Wednesday we had lunch at Organ Stop Pizza with a group from Valle del Oro. We had heard about this place two years ago and are glad we decided to go. The restaurant has a restored and improved "The Mighty Wurlitzer" theater organ. What made seeing the organ even more special was that it was originally built for the Denver Theater, the movie theater where I had my first real job (not counting babysitting) at the age of 16. During the time of silent movies, some theaters had orchestras. In small towns, there was a pianist playing during the film. But many movie theaters had theatre pipe organs designed with imitative orchestral tones. The theatre organ has been described as part military band, part symphony orchestra and part theatrical sound effects.
The Organ Stop Wurlitzer was installed in the Denver Theater in 1927 and used regularly until the early 1930s. With the advent of the talking picture and the 1930s depression, the organ was rarely heard. Organ Stop purchased the instrument in the early 1970s.
When we arrived, we were able to see part of the pipes and bellows and other sound effect devices.
But where was the organ? We had been told "they only bring the organ up at lunch time for larger groups." I wondered what that meant. We could see a large round area that might be a stage, but no impressive organ.
Then the organ and organist began to rise out of that round area. Donna Parker was the artist on Wednesday.
Here you can see the beautiful instrument. She played it very well. I have played the piano, but I can't imagine knowing how to work with the 4 manuals, 276 keys and 798 stops and controls on this organ. Donna explained a lot about the organ, how it worked, and many of the bells and whistles (literally) that it has. For more information about the organ, click here.
Today the organ has nearly 6,000 pipes. The massive quantities of wind required for operation are provided by four huge turbine blowers. In addition to musical sounds, horse hoofs, police sirens and drums, the organist can make bubbles rain down from the ceiling.
And cat marionettes dance to Alley Cat. Sorry this picture is fuzzy. I couldn't get a good one of the moving cats in the dim light.