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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Art of the Theatre Organ”

February 6, 2007

Dear Michael,

I have become increasingly interested in the theatre organ. Do you know of any good resources for organists who are wishing to learn the art of performing on a theatre organ? I understand it is quite different from the classical organ training I have been getting while in college. I enjoy hearing the music played on the theatre organ, it seems rather lively, and often quite improvised or embelished. I enjoyed the Barton Theatre Organ show and thought I might write to see what I may be able to find out regarding this supposed dying art, and how I may help continue the tradition.

Trevis D. Young
Waverly, IA


Trevis Young

You are absolutely correct…playing theater organ is a different ball-game from the ‘classical organ’. I have the highest respect for performers in both ‘camps’.

There is an active theater organ crew in the Cedar Rapids area (with two fine instruments in theaters in town).

I suggest the best thing for you would be to contact the local chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (Cedar Rapids) and see who can help you. Waverly is not that far away…and perhaps there is a theater organ buff up your way.

Note that I will be ‘encoring’ the Barton program (from the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor) next week.

The main ATOS website, with more information, is American Theatre Organ Society.

Good luck. :-)


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