The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH) is pleased to announce its third organ concert in the Music Hall Ballroom - On Broadway with the Mighty Wurlitzer - on Thursday, May 5 at 10:30 AM and 7:00 PM. Last December, SPMH presented two popular holiday concerts with Mighty Wurlitzer which sold out well in advance. The concert is being presented in cooperation with the Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Organ Society.
Tickets are on sale now at www.CincinnatiArts.ORG, (513) 621-ARTS , and the Aronoff Center Ticket Office.
Don't miss this glorious celebration of the Great White Way, starring the Mighty Wurlitzer and acclaimed theatre-organist, Walt Strony (direct from Las Vegas)! A full orchestra in one organ, the Wurlitzer is perfectly designed to capture the theatricality of Broadway's greatest hits. Featuring Mark Hardy and Lisa Ericksen (veterans of Broadway, national tours, opera, and the concert stage), this unforgettable concert experience will showcase favorites from Broadway's golden age along with some current surprises!
"There's nothing quite like a theater organ with its unique instrumentation and special effects to bring out the best in a Broadway show tune," said Don Siekmann, SPMH President. "You can't do a Broadway show without outstanding musicians and singers, and we have one of the best theatre-organists in the nation, joined by two of Cincinnati's finest stage performers. If you like classic show tunes, this is the place to be for a foot-tappin', hum-a-long good time. Now, that's entertainment!"
The Mighty Wurlitzer was installed in the ornate Albee Theater on Fountain Square in December 1927 - one of only 2,200 theatre-organs produced at that time to accompany silent feature films. When talkies took over in 1929, the theatre organ was mainly silenced. The Albee organ was donated to the Emery Theatre in 1969 (where it played for movies and other events) and was partially rebuilt by the Ohio Valley Organ Club. It was removed from the Emery in 1999, and put into storage.
The leadership at SPMH, the Cincinnati Arts Association, and the Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Organ Society thought the historic Music Hall Ballroom would be an ideal location for the instrument, and in June 2007, Ronald F. Wehmeier, Inc., Pipe Organ Service in Cincinnati was contacted to completely rebuild and install the Wurlitzer. A donor foundation funded the entire project in the amount of $1,410,000.00. Only a small number of Wurlitzers of this size still exist, and Cincinnati (the home of The Wurlitzer Company) is one of the few cities in the country to have an instrument of this quality.
Walter Strony is one of America's premier concert organists. He made his public debut in 1974 at the age of 18 and has since established himself as one of only a few organists equally at home playing both theatre and classical organ. Walt has performed hundreds of concerts from coast to coast in the United States as well as in Japan, Australia, England, and Canada. In addition, he has performed at many conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society and the American Guild of Organists.
In July 2007, he performed the first solo organ recital to be presented in many years at New York's Radio City Music Hall for the American Theatre Organ Society's 2007 Convention. He is the only living organist to have been twice voted "Organist of the Year" by the American Theatre Organ Society - in 1991 and 1993. He has performed with the Calgary Symphony, Allentown Symphony, El Paso Symphony, and Symphony Silicon Valley.
After living in the Phoenix area for 22 years, Walt relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1999. He performed at Roxy's Pipe Organ Pizzeria in the Fiesta Casino, Las Vegas during its entire run, and is currently Artist-in-Residence at First Christian Church, Las Vegas.
This well-rounded musician brings a wealth of experience to any organ console. This experience has brought him the reputation of being one of America's most original and interesting sounding concert organists. As one reviewer noted: "Strony has become one of the rare breed of today's younger theatre organists to have developed a style uniquely his own. While looking backwards, respectfully to the masters of the theatre organ tradition, he manages to look forward with a refreshing approach in all his musical arrangements. It is a style that is inventive, harmonically interesting, and above all, right for today." www.waltstrony.com
Mark Hardy has appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, Titanic, and Children and Art (the 75th birthday tribute to Stephen Sondheim). At Lincoln Center, he played Roger in the William Finn musical A New Brain. He has toured with the first national companies of Sunset Boulevard and Les Miserables. At Radio City Music Hall and on a tour of the U.S. and Canada, he appeared in The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber (as the alternate to Michael Crawford). His off-Broadway credits include the acclaimed revival of The Rothschilds, The Leonard Bernstein Revue at Rainbow and Stars, and appearances with the Lyrics and Lyricists series. Regional performances include the Phantom in Maury Yeston's Phantom, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Fred/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate!, and Neville in The Secret Garden. He also played leading roles in the premieres of They Shoot Horses, Don't They? at Denver Center Theatre and Houston Grand Opera's Maria de Buenos Aires. Cincinnati audiences may remember Mark as one of the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at The Carnegie or as Quixote in NKU's Man of La Mancha. At NKU, where he teaches performance, he has directed several successful and critically-acclaimed productions, including Titanic, A Chorus Line, The Women, Loot, Sweet Charity, and On the Town. Mark has also made numerous appearances with orchestras promoting classic Broadway, but never has he sung with an instrument as majestic as the Mighty Wurlitzer!
Lisa Ericksen began her career as a classical singer who performed extensively in the United States and Europe. She has performed leading operatic and concert roles with Baltimore Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Virginia Opera, Tel Aviv Symphony Orchestra, Concert Opera of Philadelphia, Cincinnati Baroque, Whitewater/Sorg Operas, Handel Society of Baltimore, the National Bulgarian Radio Orchestra, Piccola LaScala Opera, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Sanibel Island Music Festival, Pennsylvania Ballet, and concerts at Lincoln Center. She has performed in touring productions of Rigoletto (Gilda), Don Giovanni (Zerlina), and The Magic Flute (Pamina, The Queen of the Night) in France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. She recently was the soprano soloist in productions of Carmina Burana and Mozart's Requiem with the Cincinnati Ballet at the Aronoff Center. Lisa is a winner of the Liederkranz Foundation Awards and the Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundations Awards in New York. She also was second place winner in the Baltimore Opera/Vocal Competition.
As a crossover artist, she has performed the role of Carlotta in Bell/Tchaikovsky's Phantom of the Opera and in productions of Lady in the Dark and Sweet Adeline for City Centers Encores! in New York City. Last season, Lisa performed the roles of Charlotte in A Little Night Music with New Stage Collective and Woman 1 in Side by Side by Sondheim with Commonwealth Theatre Company.
Lisa teaches Voice at Northern Kentucky University in the Department of Theatre and Dance. She is also Chair of the Musical Theater Intensive program for high school students at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department.
SOCIETY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF MUSIC HALL
The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH) is a non-profit organization that provides ongoing financial and volunteer support toward maintaining and improving Cincinnati's historic Music Hall. SPMH members are volunteers from all walks of life who are dedicated to the continuing preservation of Music Hall as a national historic monument and promoting it as one of the world's foremost performing arts, entertainment and rental facilities.