ISO organ debuts

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Today, IBJ reporter Kathleen McLaughlin chimes in with a report
of the ISO’s latest acquisition.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra had its new Wurlitzer
on display inside Hilbert Circle Theatre Tuesday. And if you know anything about the history of theater
organs (and I didn’t until this afternoon), you might think it somewhat appropriate that one ended
up at Hilbert Circle. Theater organs
were equipped to replicate orchestral sounds so they could accompany silent films. Hilbert Circle opened in 1916 as a movie house.

does the ISO have any plans to bring silent film back to the theater?

“Not on the
horizon. No,” ISO spokeswoman Jessica DiSanto said. “We are primarily an orchestra hall.”

ISO is preparing instead for the organ’s debut on Oct. 23 and 24 with Saint-Saëns’ Symphony
No. 3. The guest organist is Martin Ellis.

The 1931 Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ, style
240, actually came into orchestra hands back in 2003—as a donation from the Central Indiana Chapter
of the American Theatre Organ Society. Since 1968, it had been stored at the home of a private owner in Fairfield, Ohio.

But restoration
doesn’t come cheap. Thanks to a a bequest from Sally Reahard, repairs were made and  and eleven
ranks of pipes were added to make the organ suitable for symphonic works. The work was performed by Carlton
Smith Pipe Organ Restoration of Indianapolis.

The Wurlitzer is the first organ the ISO has owned since
its inception.

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