Theatre Organs at Classic
The primary installations of Classic control systems has always been church pipe organs, but we have done a few theatre organs over the years, in fact the first couple organs Henry worked on were theatre organs.
The Organ Grinder
The first theatre organ Henry worked on was the 3-12 Wurlitzer at The Organ Grinder, a pizza parlour in downtown Toronto. In 1977 Henry replaced the original pneumatic system with a new electronic relay. It was this instrument that first piqued Henry's personal interest in theatre organs.
The over 1,000 pipes and other parts of this instrument were actually cobbled together with the parts of many different instruments, some of which dated back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Percussions and traps included bird whistles, horse hooves, drums, upright piano (88 notes), marimba (37 notes), xylophone (37 notes), glockenspiel (30 notes), and chimes.
We think Henry is the one on the left.
There is more information and pictures about the Organ Grinder at this blog posting. There are several pictures, but I don't have the rights to them so can't copy them here.
Kingston Theatre Organ Society (KTOS)
I've mentioned the KTOS organ a couple times in previous posts, but haven't really gone into great detail with it. Much of what is written below comes from Henry and an article written by Frank W Pratt, in Theatre Organ, November/December 1981.
In the summer of 1977, a bit more than a year after Henry first established The Classic Organ Company", John Coenraads, a long time friend of Henry's approached him about building a new fully electronic relay and combination action for the Kingston Theatre Organ Society's organ. Being a young company eager to establish a name and rise to the challenge, Henry jumped at the opportunity.
In September 1977 Classic received the official order with a down payment of $5000. There were many challenges in creating this system, including a specification that kept changing, it was originally supposed to be 160 stop tabs, by the time the control system was delivered there were 263. The control system used a microprocessor-based combination action computer with 8 memory levels, perhaps the most sophisticated system installed in a theatre organ at the time.
The control system was delivered in April 1979, but there were more revisions over the next couple of years as the organ was installed; Henry can remember many weekends working on site during that hectic time. Through the heroic efforts of many dedicated people, the organ was ready for it's first public concert on September 17th, 1981 with Ashley Miller. The KTSO organ was featured on the cover of the Nov/Dec 1981 issue of Theatre Organ magazine
During the 80's, more changes and additions were made, including hooking up the Piano, and several new pipe ranks. By 1990, the console was becoming the limiting factor in expansion plans, and so a major upgrade of the console and control system was initiated.
On May 23, 1991 Classic Organ Works took on the job of expanding and upgrading the console and it's control system. The console was removed to Toronto, while Fred Gollnick and crew worked on the organ on site. A second row of tabs was added to the backboard, increasing the tab count to 305, and our new integrated Console Control Computer was installed. The new CCC provided 50 memory levels for pistons, as well as full MIDI capabilities, allowing performances to be recorded and played back. The re-opening concert with Walt Stroney was recorded!
Throughout the 90's CLASSIC did more upgrades and revisions in support of further expansion of the organ.
In 2004 Classic Organ Works received the Fred Gollnick Award in recognition of its long term support of the Kingston Theatre Organ Society an the KTOS theatre organ
The last updates Classic did for the KTOS organ were in 2005 when the system was again expanded, now allowing for 98 memory levels, an alphanumeric display, and MIDI Record and Playback. Classic Organ Works continues to provide technical support, as it has over the past 4 decades, and promises to be there when needed for the foreseeable future!