A lot can happen in two years. That’s how long it’s been since my last post on this blog. I figured it would be a good idea to write an update. In the future, I’ll try to be better about keeping you posted!
As many of you know, I now live in California, where I took over the Allen Organ dealership for most of the southern half of the state. That means that I have the wonderful opportunity to be involved with installing, voicing, and maintaining organs on a daily basis, aside from just playing them! Our showroom is in Pasadena in the same location as our predecessor Henry Hunt’s company Church Organs, Inc.
While the Los Angeles area couldn’t be more different than Indianapolis, it’s been exciting to get involved in the organ “scene” here. I serve on the boards of Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to see and hear the many hundreds of pipe organs in the area. Not a week passes where there aren’t several organ concerts to choose from around LA.
We were able to find a home in Monrovia, just about 15 minutes east of Pasadena. It is a lovely 1907 Arts and Crafts, or “Craftsman-style” bungalow. The architecture of our neighborhood is gorgeous, especially set against the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains. “Los Angeles” is really just a collection of dozens of smaller towns and cities, and I think we found one of the most charming of them all to call home.
On the musical side of things, I’m still actively traveling performing concerts and silent films. The highlights of the past two years have included:
- A trip to London to perform for the Cinema Organ Society’s convention
- A trip to St. Gallen, Switzerland to perform the dedication concert on a Style DX Wurlitzer restored and installed by my friend Jeff Weiler and his team
- A duo concert with David Gray featuring the Barton Organ in Warren Performing Arts Center (Indianapolis) and an Allen Organ sampled from that very instrument
- Christmas concerts at the Cincinnati Music Hall on its spectacular 3/30 Wurlitzer Organ, featuring special guests Anthony Snitker and members of the Cincinnati Youth Ballet (Working on transcriptions to all that Tchaikovsky was an event in itself)
Through some good luck (and the generosity of my friend Cletus Goens), I was able to acquire a new-to-me piano: a 1915 Mason & Hamlin Model A grand. Although I don’t have room for an organ at home, this piano continues to give me hours upon hours of delight. It’s hard to walk past it without sitting down for a brief interlude. The only thing that would make it better was if it had an Ampico reproducing system!
One of the best parts of moving to California has been being closer to some of my most important mentors. Most notably, my friend Ed Stout has helped me immeasurably as I work to learn the wonders of theatre organ tonal matters and restoration (a never-ending pursuit!). He and his longtime business partner, Dick Taylor, are in the process of restoring the famous New York Paramount Studio Wurlitzer organ that Dick purchased recently. Dick bought a building in Rocklin (near Sacramento) which will house a recreation of a vintage radio studio where the Wurlitzer will be the crown jewel. Even being a fly on the wall is rewarding just to see these masters at work.
Before moving to California, I knew it was a beautiful state, but I didn’t know it was THAT beautiful. Late this summer, my partner Anthony and I took about a week to drive through the state with our friend Harold Wright, culminating in a 3-day visit to Yosemite National Park. The trip was inspirational, and if I can figure out a way to justify many more trips for “artistic reasons,” I’ll do it in a heartbeat!
That’s about all I have time to write about for now, but I’ll try to do a better job with this blog, and feel free to follow me on Facebook, too!