Organist to revive Wurlitzer's golden age tonight

Organist to revive Wurlitzer's golden age tonight

CHAMPAIGN — Organist Mark Gifford will perform on the Virginia Theatre's Wurlitzer pipe organ at 7 tonight as he improvises accompaniment to a silent film — Buster Keaton's "One Week."

Gifford also will perform music from the golden age of the theater organ as well as sing-alongs, with the Virginia's historic glass slides of lyrics so the audience can follow along.

The Virginia owns one of the largest collections of glass sing-along slides in the country. They are made from two pieces of glass: one containing a hand-painted image and the second placed over the image for protection. A special projector projects the image onto the movie screen.

Gifford has performed on the Barton Theatre Pipe Organ at Springfield High School since 1993. He also is one of the organists at the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville and plays the lobby organ at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. In 1998, he released the Christmas album "Pipe In a Swingin' Christmas," which was recorded on the Lincoln Theatre organ.

The doors to tonight's event will open at 6. General admission is $3 to $5; tickets are available at the box office, by phone at 356-9063 and at The event is sponsored by John Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders and the East Central Illinois Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Topics (2):Film, Music