July 10, 2012
Click above to listen as WSKG's Gregory Keeler interviews guest organist John Ledwon.
Binghamton Theater Organ Society presents
Master organist John Ledwon
Staff organist at Disney-owned El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles
Saturday, July 21, 7:30pm (general seating, doors open at 6:55pm)
Mighty Robert Morton Theatre Organ
236 Washington Street
Theater Organs were built to accompany silent films before the talkies hit. Ours (citizens of Broome County own the instrument via the county-owned Forum) was born in Los Angeles, in 1926 to the Robert Morton Organ Company. It has more than 1400 pipes with four 61-note keyboards, one 32-note pedal keyboard, and over 160 knobs and switches controlled by hands AND feet!
Built for a Denver theater, this beauty lost its way for many years, ending up in a chicken coop in Michigan. It was found, purchased, and donated by the Binghamton Savings Bank, re-built, and installed in the FORUM by volunteers in 1976.
The instrument is one of the 12 largest in New York State, counting the huge instrument we hope you have heard at Radio City Music Hall! Of the 7000 “Unit Orchestras” built to accompany silent films in the 1920's and 30’s there are about 300 left in the world. Binghamton has two!
The Forum organ is capable of luscious quiet sounds as well as seat-shaking fortissimos, all without amplifiers or speakers! The “old tech” ways of supplying all those pipes their life-giving air from the 15-horsepower blower is a study in the technical marvels created by geniuses of yesteryear.
Experiencing early Hollywood’s silent film and theater organ age only takes a visit to the Forum Theater in downtown Binghamton. Feel the magic of the magnificent movie palaces on Saturday, July 21, 2012, 7:30 PM with a moving program created by master theater organist John Ledwon, staff organist at the Disney-owned El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. Enjoy a short 1928 silent hand-drawn film about a certain mouse building his own airplane and the troubles he gets her into!
Ledwon’s improvisational skills bring film music to a level not possible without the 1400-pipe “Unit Orchestral Theater Organ." Enjoy selections from Disney, John Williams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Leonard Bernstein... plus early rock-n-roll and seat-rocking "sinister" music from classic "B" movies!
Open seating. Doors to the recently-renovated Forum auditorium open at 6:55pm.
General Admission $15
Groups (10 or more) $12.50
BTOS members (who donate $20 annually) $10
Full time students and children under 21, half of any of the above prices
To reserve or purchase tickets, call (607) 773-1495 or email BTOS@stny.rr.com.
Pick up your tickets at the Forum (236 Washington St) on July 21 between noon and show time. Last-minute lines could be long! More information at (607) 773-1495.
A native Southern Californian, John Ledwon was 11 when his musical talents were discovered. By the time he was 20 he had graduated from SCUN and UCLA complete with teaching credentials.
He toured for four months with the U.S.O., entertaining troops in Alaska and Asia, returned to UCLA, got a master’s degree, taught high school, and built a new home for his personal theatre pipe organ. His home burned two years later in one of California’s infamous brush fires and was replaced while he taught and toured in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.
John was a regular organist on the Mike Douglas late-night television show while also teaching a college level theatre organ class at Pasadena City College. He joined the Disney-owned El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles in 1999 where he is on staff. At Disney he uses the repertoire that enables intricate and insightful programs for his international audiences, performing the best of today’s composers. John’s many recordings will be available at this program.