Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer to Cincinnati’s Music Hall Ballroom

CINCINNATI, OH – The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH) is pleased to announce the return of Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer to Cincinnati’s Music Hall Ballroom on Wednesday, December 12 at 10:30 AM and 7:00 PM. This popular holiday concert is regarded as one of the Tri-state’s most anticipated music events of the yuletide season.

Tickets are on sale now at www.CincinnatiArts.org, (513) 621-ARTS [2787], and the Aronoff Center and Music Hall Ticket Offices. For groups of ten or more, call (513) 977-4157.

There’s nothing quite like the unique sound of the Albee Theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer − an orchestra and more all in one organ!  Acclaimed theatre-organist Mark Herman will pull out all the stops, with Cincinnati Opera Artistic Director, Evans Mirageas, as guest emcee; vocalists Jennifer Lynn Cherest and Thom Dreeze; and Nutcracker dancers from Cincinnati’s School for the Creative & Performing Arts. This will be a nonstop concert with all of the bells, whistles, and special effects that only an instrument as grand as the Mighty Wurlitzer can create. Relive your memories of yesterday as you create new memories of tomorrow with your friends and family!

“The Winter Holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the warmth of music and light, which can start and stir such wonderful memories,” said Holly Brians Ragusa of The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall.  “Traditions such as our annual Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer concert are special and help us share in the joy and peace of the Season! It’ll be quite a night to discover or rediscover the Mighty Wurlitzer with loved ones in the beautiful Music Hall Ballroom.  Come to remember and enjoy a sense of childhood joy and wonder.”

The Mighty Wurlitzer
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 Theater 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 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 $1.41 million.  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.

The Wurlitzer was expanded in tonal colors and effects, from 19 ranks of pipes to 31 ranks (a rank is made up of 61 pipes, and represents orchestral sounds, such as trumpets, flutes, tubas, strings, etc.).  A full array of percussion effects is also present – xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, chimes, and even a large Steinway grand – all playable from the giant three keyboard and pedal console, decorated in 22-karat gold leaf.  Wind for the pipes is provided by a 15 HP high pressure turbine, the electrical switching is controlled by computer, and pipes range in size from 16 feet to the size of a pencil.  In addition, the Wurlitzer is now fully computerized, so that it can be played without an organist through a digital input system.

Mark Herman
One of America’s busiest theatre organists, Mark performs concerts and silent film presentations across the U.S. and abroad. In 2012, he was named the American Theatre Organ Society’s Organist of the Year and is the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious honor. Previously, he was overall winner of the Society’s Young Theatre Organist Competition in 2004.

Mark has been featured on several episodes of American Public Media’s Pipedreams program, and has performed for countless conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society, American Guild of Organists, and Organ Historical Society. On the international stage, he has toured in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he is President and Tonal Director of the Los Angeles Organ Company, the Allen Organ dealer for the Greater Los Angeles area. He is in demand as a voicing specialist and tonal consultant for Allen Organs and is proud to be an Allen Artist, showcasing new Allen Organs in the U.S. and beyond. He oversees the care of several notable theatre pipe organs and consults on instruments nationally. Los Angeles Organ Company oversees the installation and care of organs with hundreds of institutional and private clients throughout the west coast.

Evans Mirageas
Evans Mirageas is in his 14th season as The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Opera. Widely considered one of the most talented and respected artistic leaders in the classical music industry today, Evans brings to Cincinnati Opera a broad range of experience in both opera and symphonic music, as well as a long history of successful partnerships with many of the world’s leading singers and conductors.

Evans’ varied career in classical music has included radio production with the nationally-renowned WFMT radio station in Chicago, Artistic Administrator to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony, and Senior Vice President of Artists and Repertoire for the Decca Record Company. In addition, he is an award-winning record producer, lecturer, interviewer, presenter, and awards panelist. He is also the Vice President for Artistic Planning for The Atlanta Symphony. Since 1999, Evans has served as an independent artistic advisor to conductors, instrumentalists, sing­ers, symphony orchestras, opera companies, and other performing arts organizations throughout the United States and Europe.Jennifer Lynn Cherest, soprano

Jennifer has been praised as “beautifully expressive and technically polished” by the San Francisco Chronicle in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera with the Merola Opera Program, and has begun to make her mark in the opera world. Since finishing her Adler fellowship with the San Francisco Opera in 2013, she has debuted with such companies as Washington National Opera and Cincinnati Opera, and recently sang the role of Gilda in Rigoletto with Dayton Opera. Learn more about Jennifer at www.jennifercherest.com.

Thomas Dreeze, baritone

Thomas has enjoyed a varied career in music, arts administration, and events management. He performs opera, operetta, oratorio, music theatre, art song, the American songbook, and more. Praised for his baritone voice of wide range and warm-timbre, he has recently performed with the  Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Collegium Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Dreeze is a co-founder of Evans Mirageas Consulting, which offers artistic and strategic planning for classical music organizations and musicians around the world (www.evansmirageas.com).

The School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) Dance Department 

The SCPA Dance Department is known for its exceptional courses in ballet technique and style as well as modern dance. As students advance, they are given the opportunity to audition for Dance Ensemble, SCPA’s premier student dance company. Graduates of the Dance Department have gone on to perform with the New York City, Cincinnati, and Atlanta Ballet companies, as well as on Broadway.