Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Storm

In the days before television, before movie houses became ubiquitous, when the most exciting amusement ride was a relatively tame wooden roller coaster, there were other ways for audiences to find thrills. One of them was to attend theater organ concerts that simulated giant storms. Theater organs around the dawn of the 20th Century routinely included wild sound effects as well as musical timbres, and a small repertoire of music evolved to use these to their fullest advantage.

In 1905, one such series of "Storm" concerts at Ocean Grove, on the Great Auditorium's massive organ, caused an uproar. As recorded in the New York Times online archive, summer residents found the concerts "too noisy."

Cottagers and hotel guests in the vicinity of the Auditorium have become surfeited with the organ's noise. They complain it disturbs their afternoon naps and annoys them at tea time.

Organist-in-residence Gordon Turk should take heed from this ugly precedent as he prepares for a return of "The Storm" 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, July 22, as part of the Great Auditorium's free Wednesday organ recitals. The composition, "The Storm," will be accompanied by a lecture by Turk on the subject of "storm" compositions and the restoration of certain sound effects to the Great Auditorium instrument that make the performance possible.

For more information, visit the theater's website, www.ogcma.org.


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