Columbia River
Theatre Organ Society

3439 N.E. Sandy Blvd., #259
Portland, OR 97232

About Us

Board of Directors
Wilson Alness, President (2018)
Terry Robson, Vice President (2017)
Rob Kingdom, Treasurer (2018)
Steve Jarvis, Secretary (2017)
Jack Powers, (2017)
Jonas Nordwall (2019)
Andrew Dunning (2019)
Dean Lemire (2019)
Andrew Dunning (2019)

Support
Steve Jarvis, Newsletter Editor
Terry Robson, Activities
Mike Bryant, Crew Chief
Rob Kingdom, Inventory Manager
Paul Tichy, Webmaster

Our Past, Present, and Future

The Columbia River Theatre Organ Society was formed in 1994, for the preservation and enhancement of the theatre organ and its music.

The Society's public purposes include:

  • To further public appreciation of the theatre pipe organ and its music with educational programs and concerts.
  • To encourage talented musicians to preserve the art of theatre organ playing through competitions and awards.
  • To encourage skilled organ builders and technicians to preserve the art of theatre pipe organ building through educational seminars, writing books and articles, and on-the-job training of aspiring pipe organ builders and technicians.

For information on CRTOS programs, membership, or any other topics contact us at info@crtos.org

Click here for a membership application

For website content submission, and related questions or comments please contact the webmaster at webmaster@crtos.org

Click here to view our bylaws (11/2010)

 

About the Theatre Organ and the Hollywood Theatre

When Portland's Hollywood Theatre opened in 1926, music for silent films was supplied by a large, complex acoustical instrument played by one person, called a theatre pipe organ. The sound-producing parts of the instrument were hidden in chambers on both sides of the stage, leaving only the console and the musician visible to the audience. Most of a theatre pipe organ uses the same basic technology as classical organs, but the sound is quite different and more orchestral, leading to the term "Unit Orchestra". In addition to musical sounds (including percussions), sound effects were included to make the movie experience more realistic. The Wurlitzer instrument in the Hollywood fell into disuse after the introduction of talking pictures, and was moved to a skating rink in 1955.

Our nonprofit group is bringing those long lost sounds back to the chambers, to burst forth into the main auditorium with grand and glorious melodies sounding even better than those of 1926. A generous gift has gotten the project off to a running start. The Beverly Ruth Nelson Memorial Organ is now playing, and growing.

Yes... a real, honest to goodness, grand and eloquent theatre style pipe organ is being assembled and parts refurbished to go into those hallowed chambers. It is larger than the original Wurlitzer and offers more variety in sound. The visible part of the instrument, the console, is completed and working. While the pipes and mechanical parts are being readied, the console controls very realistic digital sound samples played through an array of loudspeakers behind the stage (details here). The same console will control real pipes, which will gradually replace the digital samples as ranks are installed. The present instrument sounds great, and it will only get better with time. We have the only operational theatre organ installation in a Portland movie theatre!

We are dedicated to giving back to the City of Portland and its citizens some of those glorious sounds of yester-year. It is happening now, and you can be a part of it!!

Building pipe organs is a labor-intensive and expensive process... you can help. There are many tasks that don't require specialized skills, done under the guidance of members with years of experience. That could begin with your joining our Society using the membership form. Also, all monetary donations are gratefully accepted, and the Columbia River Theatre Organ Society is a 501(C)3 tax-exempt organization.

Columbia River Theatre Organ Society is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to the preservation of the theatre organ and its music.