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Events

A final bow for the mighty Wurlitzer

February 28, 2011

A little known gem of CSU's Lory Student Center Theatre will present its farewell performances on March 9 and 11, just before students leave campus for their spring break destinations. Since 1983, CSU has been the proud owner of a 1927 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, a gift from Marian Cook in memory of her husband, John Brown Cook.

Douglas Fairbanks in "The Mark of Zorro"'The Mark of Zorro' March 9

Bob Castle, the resident organist at the Paramount Theatre in Denver, will play along to a showing of the silent film “The Mark of Zorro” starring Douglas Fairbanks at 7:30 pm. on Wednesday, March 9. The Wurlitzer was invented for the purpose of playing the soundtrack to a silent movie.

Traditional music and old favories March 11

More traditional music and many old favorites will be performed by Kevin Utter and Doug Thompson, with saxophone accompaniment by Harold Ferguson, at 7:30 pm. on Friday, March 11. Thompson is the winner of the 2010 Amateur Theatre Organist competition hosted by the American Theatre Organ Society.

Both concerts are free and open to the public.

The 1927 Wurlitzer Theatre OrganA highly-specialized musical instrument

A theatre organ was a highly-specialized musical instrument which saw its greatest use between the introduction of moving pictures in the early 1910s and the advent of the “talkies” almost twenty years later. Capable of producing numerous sound effects as well as replicating an entire 40-piece orchestra, the Wurlitzer allowed movie houses to present multiple showings each week without hiring a full orchestra, a great economic boon to the fledgling industry.

From the Piccadilly Theatre in New York

The organ at the Lory Student Center was originally installed in the Piccadilly Theatre in Rochester, New York. Later, it was moved to The Three Coins Restaurant in Louisville and then to a pizza parlor in Provo, Utah. When Mrs. Cook purchased the organ, she commissioned the Crome Organ Co. of Los Angeles to rebuild, restore, and expand the instrument to its present three-manual, 19-rank, and twin-console configuration before installing it at CSU.

CSU Professor Emeritus Robert Cavarra

The dedication concert for the Wurlitzer was performed on September 25, 1983, by Lyn Larson, one of the foremost artists of the time, and Robert Cavarra, CSU professor emeritus of music who remained the principle champion of its use until his death in 2008. Numerous other outstanding organists have performed on the Lory organ at holiday concerts and several summer workshops that were conducted by the Music Department and the American Guild of Organists.

Under Professor Cavarra's leadership, three other world-class examples of the modern classical organ movement were realized in Fort Collins: the Casavant Frères organ at the CSU Music Building (1969 and now installed at the University Center for the Arts on Remington); the Lawrence Phelps Opus 1 organ at St. Luke's Episcopal Church (1973); and the Danish Marcussen and Son organ at the First United Methodist Church (1987).