Our young organists invite you to join them!
2023 ATOS Young Organist Competition – Chicago!
Ian Fraser can be added to the ranks of big names in theatre organ. Congratulations! The recent ATOS Convention was in July located in the greater Chicago area. One of the events of the annual gathering is the ‘Young Theatre Organist Competition’.
It was Independence Day at the Tivoli Theatre in Downer’s Grove that Ian was finalist and competed with Jared Goldringer and Declan Poole. All three young artists have risen to the top of their still-youthful craft and all three put on superior performances with some of the characteristics that signify experience beyond their years. The judges had the difficult task of selecting the best among them.
Ian’s performance included: an opener featuring Cole Porter’s ‘Let’s Misbehave’, followed by ‘Love of My Life’ a Queen ballad, then a ‘Wizard of Oz’ medley, and ending with ‘Sunrise’ from the Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Groffe’. Ian is largely self-taught and his arrangements were refreshing, different, and unlike anyone else’s style. The total performance brought him the Win !
GSTOS has been presenting winners and runners-up with prize money for the past 10 years and he received a $1000 check through the generosity of our members. The runners-up each received $500. Ian also was offered a concert date to perform for GSTOS with all expenses paid ‘to New Jersey’ said President Michael Cipolletti, playfully. The award has already offered Ian concert dates in other venues and for other Chapters showcasing that his talent and efforts are being recognized.
It is very hard to describe a theatre organ convention because it is like fireworks and ocean waves. You appreciate it at the moment but you can’t put it into words. It was a week-long experience. For starters, it was a chance to visit with people, some international friends, who we may see once a year. We shared stories, sometimes repetitions and reminiscence, about our quests to save theatre organs. It was an opportunity to learn more about technology to manage these tremendous instruments. Additionally, it was an opportunity to hear some of the finest talent on some of the finest organs in the world.
If we look back at the heyday of theatre organs, it is clear that there are only a small percentage of the original organs still playing. There are only a small number of movie palaces that house these organs. The upside is that the instruments have never been better. We have valued them and taken care of them. We’ve upgraded the operational systems but the true sound has not changed. There is nothing like the sound of air coming out of a pipe!
Today’s organists are wizards. Their skills outperform almost all of the old-time organists and they command the unit orchestra in such a way that it is not a piece of century-old music but a modern-day musical instrument.
We may obtain a highlights CD of the Convention and that will capture some of the listening ‘choices’ of the editor. Yet, only full immersion at the live experience in the stunning halls these instruments inhabit can provide the full experience.
As times move forward, we hope the annual event will continue as it provides musical respite though the glorious musical experience that an ATOS Convention can provide.
Summer Youth Adventure 2018
Written by Luke Staisiunas—
The organs for the week provided a wide and varied selection of instruments, to give the students good playing experience on different types of instruments, and installations, that they might encounter during a concert career. The main teaching organ was the Page at Stephenson High School, a recent installation from the Atlanta chapter. The Page was built as a jazzy organ, and as such features brighter, bolder sounds than a Wurlitzer, including some color stops not often found. These include a gorgeous French Horn, and a Copper Saxophone, which unlike the Wurlitzer Brass models features longer resonators, creating a different tone color well suited for solo lines. The Clarabella flute was another sound not often found, very closely resembling the orchestral instrument in the upper octaves of the stop. Those three stops alone are worth a trip back to Atlanta, not to mention the Krumet Horn undergoing renovation, a twin to the famous set found at Mundelein Seminary. (It will be installed and playing for the 2020 Convention, put it on your calendars and book your tickets—you won’t be disappointed!) Day trips included a visit to the famous Atlanta Fox (my new favorite in-theatre organ!), with its world-famous Moller organ, with 13 ranks of strings and countless color reeds giving it a very warm orchestral tone. A very different instrument to the Page, it provided a different pallet of sounds from which to work, in a MUCH larger room. A trip to Alabama provided a chance to play Big Bertha in the Alabama theatre, another contrasting organ in a contrasting room! Lastly, we visited two residences, one outside of Birmingham with an absolutely stunning recently built Walker digital organ, replacing a small pipe organ destroyed by fire. The other was an Allen in a private studio attached to a home outside of Atlanta.
At the end of the week, the students performed in an informal recital for the visiting parents, and members of the Atlanta ATOS chapter. This was an opportunity to show off how much progress they all made in such a short time, as well as showcasing the talents of the future performers and technicians of ATOS. All in all, the week was a worthwhile experience, and very worthy of continued support! Of all the programs that ATOS supports, this is one of the most important, as year after year, new students with an interest in the theatre pipe organ come to join, and many continue to return!
Written By: Brett Miller
This year’s Summer Youth Adventure was held in Atlanta Georgia. All of the students had the opportunity to play the fantastic instruments around the region. These included the Atlanta Fox, Stephenson High School, the Alabama Theatre, Fred Dove’s residence 3-manual Walker and our other hosts on their Allen GW-4. There was an equally fantastic team of instructors. This year my fellow students and I received instruction from: Jonas Nordwall, Donna Parker, Martin Ellis, Jelani Eddington, and Chris Elliot.
The Summer Youth Adventure has always been a week to which I look forward. With GSTOS’ support throughout the past couple of years I’ve been able to advance my knowledge and build life-long friendships as a result of this great program. With such wonderful instructors I find myself learning so much within the five day span, each instructor and guest covering a different subject. I can’t express enough my gratitude to the GSTOS membership for their support!