The Indianapolis airport was closed due to severe thunderstorms, so we didn't arrive at the convention hotel until 11 p.m. However, we heard that Simon Gledhill's concert, on Saturday night, was sensational.
Today, we only had two concerts, both in Lafayette, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.
The Long Center, originally called the Mars Theatre, was built in 1920-1921. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places, in 1981, and went through a major renovation beginning in 1997. It seats about 1,200, looking to us to be about the same size as the Stanford Theatre.
The organ, installed in 1982, was described as a hodgepodge of pipework. It was a 3/14, but never lived up to expectations. In 1988, the Long Center acquired a Wurlitzer console which was totally rebuilt and decorated to match the theatre by Carlton Smith. Crome Organ Company and Smith then enlarged the organ to it's current size of 21 ranks. It's Indiana's largest "in theatre" pipe organ. The organ sounded great, and from talking to some other folks who heard it the last time, was much improved.
Clark Wilson, minus his pants, introduced Ken Double. He said he had heard that the console was on a Barton lift, so he assumed he was dressed appropriately, since Bartons only come up halfway. He said Ken, who was still in the pit, was feverishly putting on his pants.
The first concert featured Ken Double, the consummate showman, who showed he could do it all; from singing, to jokes, to mastering the organ. He started out by singing When You're Smiling, accompanied by himself via electronic replay. His concert continued with On A Wonderful Day Like Today, a medley from The Music Man, beginning and ending with 76 Trombones, Probably, a swinging rendition of The South Side Of Chicago, Beseme Mucho, Spring Fever, a Harry James medley including It's Been A Long Long Time, I Had A Crazy Dream Last Night, I've Heard That Song Before, and finishing with Golden Days. After a standing ovation, he played a toe tapping encore of Alabamy Bound.
After the intermission, the 2002 ATOS convention was previewed. It will be held in San Diego. I didn't take notes, since the lights were off, but I remember some of the places that will be featured. One church is the one where the Arden Pizza & Pipes Wurlitzer now resides. A concert will be played on the Spreckels Organ. A trip to LA will feature a Disney movie at the El Capitan with organ prelude. Donna Parker will play at another church.
The 2003 convention will be in San Francisco, with Sierra Chapter hosting a Morton Madness Afterglow. Milwaukee has the convention in 2004, and Los Angeles will host the event in 2005.
Clark Wilson opened the second concert with, I've Got A Lot of Livin' To Do, from Bye Bye Birdie. He paid tribute to John Murray, who passed away in 1994, by playing three Richard Whiting selections, ending with Hooray For Hollywood. Next up was On The Trail, from the Grand Canyon Suite, and a lush rendition of A Star Is Born by Robert Farnon. Then he kicked off a silent movie by playing The Merry Makers Overture, by Eric Coates. The film was Spring Time Saps, featuring Snub Pollard. It was hilarious, and quite risque for its time, which judging by the ladies clothing was about 1927. Clark played an encore featuring Trumpeters Holiday.
We had a full day, today, hearing four different organs within five miles of the convention hotel. We started Monday morning off, bright and early, with Rob Richards at the Walker Theater on a Walker organ. The Walker Theatre, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1927, as a tribute to Madam C. J. Walker best known as America's first black woman millionaire. The original organ was removed many years ago, but the Central Indiana Chapter has obtained a 2/5 Wurlitzer "B Special" that they hope to enlarge and install into the Walker's single left chamber.
This morning's concert was on a Walker 4/43 Digital Organ. I'll tell you that I am not particularly a fan of electronics, but these new ones, including the Allens, are pretty amazing.
Rob started off with Hooray For Hollywood, followed by Tiptoe Through The Tulips and made use of the toy counter. That was followed by Jealousy, and an energetic and entertaining rendition of A Whistler And His Dog. Other than Duke Ellington's Prelude To A Kiss, the remainder of the program was played from Disney programs: a medley from Dumbo, containing comedic elements, with When I See An Elephant Fly and followed by the original Mickey Mouse Club theme from 1929: Minnie's Yoo-Hoo, the theme from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and Topsey Turvey, then from Richard Sherman, Pooh's Lula-Bee, and finishing with Richard Rogers' Slaughter On 10th Avenue.
The second concert of the morning was at the Hedback Community Theatre. It contains a 2/11 Page/Wurlitzer described as one of the best "little" organs in the country. I'll vouch for that. It had a really big sound for such a small instrument.
I've got to be forthright and tell you up front that Dan Bellomy is one of my favorites. I got hooked on him at the Fresno Convention when he let loose on the Wonder Morton at the Warnors Theatre. If there was such a thing as ear candy, Dan would have a lock on it with his wonderful arrangements. I just wish we could have had a full concert from him.
Dan brought along Jack Gilfoy to play drums for his concert. He divided the program jumping back and forth between the Page/Wurlitzer console, and a Hammond C3. Tangerine started out on the Page, and finished on the C3. Willow Weep For Me was played entirely on the C3. Then it was back to the Page for I'm Beginning To See The Light. Starting on the C3 and finishing on the Page was a waltzy jazz version of Falling In Love With Love. On the Page, from The King And I, was I Have Dreamed. The concert ended with C Jam Blues, starting on the C3 and finishing on the Page.
The afternoon concert was a short walk from the convention hotel to the Hilbert Circle Theatre; the home of the Indianapolis Symphony. The theatre, built in 1916, has not had an organ in it since 1961, but nonetheless, it has been magnificently converted into a concert hall. The Central Indiana Chapter hopes to someday install a suitable theatre pipe organ to serve the symphony, as well as silent film presentations, and pops music concerts.
Walt Strony played a digital Allen 4/41, with a console built by Crome Organ Company and decorated by Carlton Smith. The speakers were in the pipe chambers. Walt indicated that this organ was already "sold", and after going back to the factory for a few modifications, it will be installed in the home of Jack Darr, in Irvine, California. Jack's current Allen GW-4 is now up for sale.
We were told that Walt Strony played his concert "cold" with no practice on the Allen 4/41. With his ever-present sense of humor, Walt started the concert by pressing down on the expression pedal and we heard wind and tremulant noise in the chambers. That brought a roar of laughter from the crowd. Does the Allen actually have a "mechanical noise" stop?
His first medley contained Make Believe, ending with The Lady Is A Tramp, followed by a medley from 42nd Street, and Love For Sale. His second medley contained How Long Has This Been Going On, and Embraceable You. The first half of the concert ended with American Patrol. The second half of the concert started with a medley from Oklahoma, September Song, and The Girl From Ipanema (Pearl White style). Walt wrapped it up with a rousing rendition of Victory At Sea. Walt said this was the first time he could play Victory At Sea on a non-pipe organ. Leave it to Walt to bring the house down. It was so quiet during the low passages that not a sound was heard from the audience, but the majestic victory ending immediately sent the audience into a standing ovation! For his encore, Walt played You'll Never Walk Alone.
The final evening concert was played at the Carl E. Wright Auditorium at Manual High School. The building is not air conditioned, but luckily the weather wasn't too hot, so the temperature in the auditorium was bearable.
The 3/21 Wurlitzer, installed in 1990, is described as one of the largest school installations in the country. The console is from the United Artists theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and was rebuilt by Carlton Smith. Dwight Thomas was our artist for the evening, playing a rather unique staccato style. It was very dark in the theater, so I can barely decipher my notes, but it looks like he played Let Yourself Go by Irving Berlin, 'Taint So, Honey, 'Taint So, Coconut Suite from the musical Jamaica, All That Jazz from the musical Chicago, Procession Of The Nobles by Rimsky-Korsakov, Chatterbox Rag, Crazy, Granada, The Trish-Trash Polka, and ending the first half with Pussyfoot. The second half included Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue, I'm In The Mood For Love, Sing, Through A Thousand Dreams and a Sousa march among others.
WOW! Today was certainly NOT a day to have been missed! It was another full day, with trips to Anderson, and Ft. Wayne.
The morning concert was at the Paramount Theatre, in Anderson. Indiana. So far, for us, this has been the highlight of the convention. The theatre was built in 1929; an Eberson and Strauss design. It is one of only twelve remaining Eberson atmospheric theatres open to the public, today. I wish I could pass on some interior pictures, but my camera just doesn't do well in subdued lighting conditions. It is really an absolutely beautiful theatre! Amazingly, the theatre was slated for the wrecking ball in 1989, but citizens rallied, a fund raising effort was successful and the theatre reopened in August, 1989. By 1996, redecorating and refurbishment was complete. Considering the description of the condition of the theatre prior to restoration, it was amazing to see it in such good condition. Kudos to all involved.
The organ is the original Page 3/7, totally restored by Carlton Smith, and enlarged to 3/12. It is one of only three original installations remaining in Indiana.
Ron Rhode was our artist for the morning, playing a wonderful concert in such a special venue on an original installation. He got started with Put A Nickel In The Nickelodeon, followed by Cornsilk and I Know Not Much. As the stage transformed to red, he played Lady In Red. Next up was Be Like A Kettle And Sing, and Cinderella - Stay In My Arms. After that, he played the snappy tune At The Codfish Ball; it's from a Shirley Temple movie and featured some great Honky Tonk Piano. Dust In The Moon was exotic and when the castanets came in, you almost expected to see a belly dancer appear in one of the windows off to the side of the theatre. More music included The Cossack Song, Lica, Making Faces At The Man on the Moon, Hot Lips (German version), On The Road To Mandelay, and He Ain't Got Rhythm. The concert ended with a medley from Brigadoon. After a standing ovation, two encores were played, including Please.
We had a bountiful box lunch in the theatre's likewise lovely, restored ballroom and then it was off to Ft. Wayne.
Our next venue, The Embassy, another Strauss & Eberson design but in Spanish Revival style is a truly spectacular theatre built in 1928. This large theatre seated 3,000 and boasted as much seating in the balcony as on the main floor. The theatre was upgraded in 1996, and with more modern seating, it can now accommodate 2,450.
The Page, an original 4/15 installation, has been upgraded to a 4/16. It is one of the largest Pages ever built. During 1995-1997, the organ was totally rebuilt by Carlton Smith. So, now we have seen two of the three original Page installations in Indiana.
The first concert featured the artistry of Jelani Eddington on the Page and David Harris on the concert grand piano including duets and solos. Included were Waltz In Spring Time, Fascinating Rhythm, Stranger In Paradise, Lets Get Away From It All, and a medley from 42nd Street. The audience couldn't quit applauding. Then they played a George Wright arrangement of Night And Day. David then featured the sweet sounds of the concert grand in a solo of But Not For Me. The first half ended with music from Sampson and Delilah, played by Jelani. The second half began with Copland's Hoedown from Rodeo. The concert continued with a medley from Singing In The Rain, and Taking A Chance On Love. The concert concluded with Gottchalk's Grand Tarantella, resulting in a standing ovation and double encores.
After a wonderful, delicious, sit-down dinner, including homemade pie, we were entertained with vintage Jim Riggs' rolling, rolliky style (as described by Ken Double). The start of the concert was briefly interrupted when the console disconnected while the lift came up. Ken and Jim then improvised like earlier vaudeville performers would have done on the same stage. A quick fix, and the concert was rolling again with the big swinging sound of I've Got You Under My Skin, followed by the whimsy of Torch's Bugle Call Rag. That was followed by, what Jim called, the "What's Been Going On" medley. Next was a Jessie Crawford arrangement of Broken Rosary (busted beads). Next up was a very smooth (for the most part sans trems) Black Coffee, concluding the first half with An Evening In Caroline, If I Had You, and Torch's Hot Dog. The second half began with the rich, full sound of Shallow Waters. Other tunes included One For My Baby; One For The Road and When It's Sleepy Time Down South. Amid a flying bat and thunder, came Thanks For The Memories, There'll Never Be Another You, and the fantastically rich, Memories Of You. Jim commented that a simple melody speaks for itself but is very hard to do. This was followed by Singing In The Rain. The climax to our fabulous day was the 1933 RKO King Kong March, by Max Steiner. After a standing ovation, Jim concluded with his encore, Kitten On The Keys and with the audience clapping to the rhythm of his theme song, Paramount On Parade.
Even though we didn't get back to the convention hotel until after midnight, we were up bright and early this morning for a short walk to the Saint John Catholic Church to hear Donna Parker.
Saint John the Evangelist was completed in 1871, with twin steeples added in 1893. The original organ and rose window were destroyed in a massive hailstorm in 1923. However, the original casework from that organ remains today.
The current organ was installed in 1989 by the Indianapolis organ building firm of Goulding & Wood, Inc. It features two manuals and 36 ranks augmented by nine digital voices from Walker Technical. A 16 foot open diapason is from the second organ, built in 1935 by the Wickes Organ Company.
Donna Parker woke everyone up with a big unnamed fanfare. This was followed by a soothing, Wind In The Pine Trees. Then she played two novelty pieces from Richard Purvis: Le Petite Cloche, and March Grotesque which was quite funny. Martin Ellis then took over and played The Septenary On All Creatures, Chris Elliot's I Would Be True, and his own composition of Suite In G (the toccata movement). Donna then played Night In Monterrey by Richard Purvis and Beethoven's Turkish March. Together, Donna and Martin played Fanfare in D, A Melody Of Winners (Star Wars Favorites), and an encore after a standing ovation.
The last concert of the official convention was held this afternoon at the Warren Performing Arts Center, featuring the winners from the Young Organists' Competition. It was an outstanding competition! All three winners were extremely talented and a joy to hear...our future is in good hands!
The Warren is a high school auditorium, seating about 1,200, built in 1983 to serve both the school and the east side of Indianapolis as a Performing Arts Center. The 3/17 Barton, from the Indiana Theatre, was enlarged to 3/18 and installed in the auditorium in 1997 by the Central Indiana Chapter. At that time the organ was rededicated as the Dessa and Virginia Byrd Memorial Organ. The console itself was beautiful and certainly deserving to have been in the historic Indiana Theatre.
Michelle Nicole, 23, from Australia, last year's overall winner, led off the first half with the Liberty Bell March. This was followed by a haunting 'Round Midnight. Then she played the toccata movement from Gothic Suite, followed by An American In Paris and another classical piece, Solemn Melody. She concluded with West Side Story, and Tico Tico. She was rewarded with a standing ovation and played an encore.
After the break, the actual competition got started with Mathew Loeser, 16, the junior winner from South Australia. He played Let's Face The Music And Dance, followed by Polka Dots And Moonbeams, a very nice performance with wonderful registration. He finished with selections from the musical, Annie. Not only could this guy play well but he had great stage presence as well, especially for being so young. Definitely, Mathew is someone to watch.
The second performer was Robert Sudall, 17, the Intermediate winner from the UK. He played El Carmen Chara, Blue Moon, Dainty Miss, and Hoedown from Copland's Rodeo. Without a doubt, Robert is another talented organist.
The senior performer was Catherine Drummond, 19, also from the UK. She played a lively Swanee, and the haunting strains of Someone To Watch Over Me, ending in Smetana's Dance of the Comedians that showcased her considerable talent.
The competition was very close, as all three finalists gave excellent performances. Catherine Drummond was named the overall winner for 2001.
The convention closed with our banquet in the fabulous Indiana Roof Ballroom, another atmospheric venue with tiled roof facades and Spanish stucco decor. From stars twinkling in the ceiling to sunsets and thunderstorms, the room can recall romantic nights in Madrid. Unfortunately, we were not treated to all the atmosphere the "Roof" is known for, so that was a disappointment. The food and the company, however, were top-notch...a wonderful ending to a truly stellar convention.
Thank you, Central Indiana Chapter! You really "Hit the High Note."