Riviera debuts restored wurlitzer
NORTH TONAWANDA, NY — One of the most unique and extraordinary theatre organs in the world, the Riviera Theatre Mighty Wurlitzer, a style 235 built in 1926, has just been restored after four weeks of work.
Originally installed in 1926 at the debut of the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, New York by the world-famous Wurlizer Organ company which headquarted only blocks away from the theatre, this specific Wurlitzer — equipped with (literally) all the bells and whistles that made it perfect to accompany silent motion pictures — is believed to be the quintessential, archtetypical demonstration organ used by the manufacturer to woo their buyers. The Wurlitzer Company in Tonawanda built about 2,300 organs. Of these, fewer than 30 are complete in their original locations: The Riviera’s Wurlitzer is one of that select group.
The Riviera Theatre was closed the entire month of January, 2008 as each individual organ pipe was removed from the walls and laid out onto the stage-Every piece of the instrument was extensively cleaned and repaired before being returned to the organ chambers high above the auditorium. Supervised by acclaimed Theatre Organist Clark Wilson, over 1050 man hours went into regulating the air passages (wind lines) to the pipes, tuning and re-voicing the ranks to create an orchestral sound perfect for concerts and accompanying silent films. Redundant pipes were removed and the “bells and whistles” (including air driven pianos, an antique spinnet, drums, xylophones, whistles and more) formerly in the orchestra pit were located to movable platforms on the state.
Mr. Wilson and his colleagues restored the organ to become “as fine of a well balanced, smooth and articulate mid-sized Wurlitzer as exists anywhere" in the world according to Russ Shaner, director of the Rochester Theatre Organ Society. Pleased with the work, Mr. Shaner predicted the Riviera will make the "list of top venues to play in the US."
Wilson gave a marvelous performance on Wednesday March 5th that included a comedy silent film short. He showed off several months of his detailed restoration work on the Wurlitzer.
Clark Wilson will return to the Riviera Theatre during the Harold Lloyd Comedy Film Festival on April 18th -20th 2008. On Sunday April 20th he will accompany the Lloyd classics “The Kid Brother” at 2pm and “Safety Last” at 7pm Suzanne Lloyd, Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter will appear in person at the 7pm performance.
Mr Wilson is available for interviews by phone.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, and $5 for children 12 years old and under. There is a Reception/Dinner on Sunday, April 20 after the 7pm show, $25.00 additional. Discounts for festival passes and group sales. Purchase by phone from the Riviera Box Office: 716-692-2413 or online at www.rivieratheatre.org
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Film Festival is co-presented by The Historic Riviera Theatre, The Buffalo Film Festival (Buffalo International Film Festival, Inc.), The Buffalo Film Society, The New York State Movie Theatre Corridor, WKBW Channel 7, the George Eastman House, Way Out Cinema,
Buffalo International Film Festival, Inc. is a 501c3 not-for-profit charity. It depends upon the support of the community through tax deductible donations.
Further Information: Riviera Theatre: David Bondrow, Creative Director: (716) 692-2413
The Buffalo Film Festival: 212-214-0513,