The Garden State Theatre Organ Society (GSTOS) was founded in 1973 to preserve the historic tradition of the Theatre Pipe Organ in American music. Based in northern and central New Jersey, we restore remaining specimens of the instrument where possible, encourage theatres to preserve them, and showcase them to the public for entertainment.
We are one of the many nationwide chapters of the American Theatre Organ Society and have about 150 members ranging in age from 13 to 90+. We get together monthly to hear and play many different brands of the Theatre Organ at various theatres, private residences and other venues around the state and in nearby Pennsylvania.
Why Get Involved?
- To hear fabulous Theatre Pipe Organ Music in concert and accompanying silent films.
- To play the Theatre Pipe Organ yourself.
- To help preserve these marvelous unit orchestras.
- To meet interesting people of all ages. We are well known for our sociability and good food!
About the GSTOS Family of Theatre Organ Enthusiasts
We are comprised of a diverse membership of people ranging from those who reminisce about the days of movie palace organs, to the young, who see the instrument as a very big computer or an i-phone on which their fingers fly as they turn out music that cannot be produced in any other way.
Some of us are engineers who devise ways to take old telephone switchboard type keying and re-configure it into miniaturized solid state controls.
Some of us are skilled at organ restoration.
Some of us are players of these marvelous instruments.
Some are excellent listeners of the lush, full sound of the orchestral voices represented by ranks of pipes and real percussion instruments.
But all of us are volunteers and apprentices who work to bring a nearly hundred-year old musical instrument into the current listening scene. Interestingly, a pipe organ may have evolved, but still is powered by air, exactly as it was hundreds of years ago.
The Theatre Pipe Organ or “unit orchestra” as it is sometimes called was so named because it represents one person playing all the instruments in an orchestra from one unit, the organ console.
Today, Theatre Organ music is heard as pre and post show entertainment, in pops concerts, and as the accompaniment for vintage 1920s silent films which are making a resurgence as an art form.
In addition to our love of the orchestral music of the Theatre Pipe Organ, we find lots of time for socialization. Friendships develop as a result of meetings, concerts and workshops, and many of us find ourselves dining, picnicking, boating, traveling, visiting museums and attending other types of musical programs with each other.
Several of our members have been recognized by the American Theatre Organ Society for their expertise in playing performance and in organ restoration. Read about their accomplishments at GSTOS Recognitions. In addition, two of our instruments have been given historic designations by ATOS.
How can you help GSTOS?