This is It– The Night of Nights
It’s a silver screen, silent film sacred sort of place,
and it’s something out of time.
The Old Town Music Hall began in the 1960′s when two musicians, Bill Coffman and Bill Field, purchased the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ from the Fox West Theater in Long Beach, CA, and installed it in the quaint 188-seat El Segundo State Theater, originally built in 1921.
The “Two Bills” opened their doors in 1968, and to this day the Old Town Music Hall, a treasured cultural landmark and nonprofit organization, continues to entertain audiences with silent and sound films, as well as ragtime, jazz and pipe organ concerts.
All the silver screen films are accompanied live by the Mighty Wurlitzer, just as they were when the silent features were originally released.
The massive circa-1925 machine messiah wind-powered pipe organ has been meticulously preserved so that silent classics can be experienced with live musical accompaniment, just as they did when they were first shown.
It’s something you really have to see and hear to believe.
The Mighty Wurlitzer consists of more than 2,600 pipes. The organ console has four keyboards, 260 switches, and an array of controls and pedals. From the console, the organist controls the pipes and many percussive instruments, such as a xylophone, marimba, piano, drums, and cymbals.
The entire system is air-powered from a 10-horsepower Spencer Turbine Orgoblo. This powerful source of wind pressure runs the entire mechanical system and also plays the pipes.
It’s size and scope are beyond imagination– this is one instrument that can completely floor you if you’ve never seen one in person. To make things even more interesting (and entertaining) they give audiences a “peek behind the curtain” with every organ performance. By making each drum, bell, whistle, and special sound effect glow in the dark, audiences can gain a little insight into how this mighty organ actually works.
Needless to say, the old gal requires constant maintenance.
On stage with the organ console is a spectacular 9-foot concert grand piano. The 92-note Bösendorfer was handmade in Vienna for the Old Town Music Hall in 1974. The Bösendorfer company has been making pianos since 1828, and is perhaps finest acoustic keyboard instrument made.
But make no mistake. It’s Hollywood’s films of the Golden Era along with the original musical complement that leave movie buffs in awe. Charlie Chaplin Clark Gable, Lon Chaney, Judy Garland, Harold Lloyd, Errol Flynn, Bette Davis and a host of other celluloid heroes come alive once again for the night when the intimate venue at 140 Richmond Street opens its doors for all to see.
There is nothing more entertaining than witnessing a silent short and experiencing the artistry of the live organ accompaniment, and the entire gig is simply stunning and beautiful taken in all its majestic glory.
~Via Old Town Music Hall, Lost & Found Films,
Vimeo, and Madeline40
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‘Old Town’ was produced and directed by Ben Wu and David Usui of Lost & Found Films.
It’s one in a series of short films that explore the idea of home, or places that function as home – workplaces, hang out spots, etc.
Lost & Found Films want to figure out what makes them, how they represent us, why we need them. They’re always on the lookout for dwellings of all sorts. If you’ve come across any curious or eccentric homes or other curious places, feel free to send them along to:
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little blog in Humboldt.