Manasota Theatre Organ Society Presents
Theater Organist Lance Luce in Concert
January 18 § Grace Church
This celebrated organist will perform popular standards and favorites from the Great American Songbook–popular music you never expected to hear in a church.
(Sarasota, FL) Manasota Theatre Organ Society (MTOS) is bringing three world-class organists to perform on the historic Wurlitzer theater organ it owns and maintains in Grace Church for the 2015 season. The series begins with one of America’s busiest professional theater organists, Lance Luce, on January 18. Familiar standards and selections from the Great American Songbook will be featured, including music by such icons as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins and more. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Performances are held at Grace Church, 8000 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. Concerts are at 2:30 p.m.; doors open at 1:45 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 941-776-3668. The church is located 2-1/2 miles east of I-75 and there is ample free and handicapped parking available.
“When people hear ‘organ music,’ they think heavy, somber, stuffy,” says John Fischer, president and concert chair of the Manasota Theatre Organ Society. “But they couldn’t be more wrong. These performers are not just carrying on a rich American tradition; they’re known for their great showmanship and thoroughly entertaining performances. We’re talking Fun with a capital F here!”
Recently named the 2014 Organist of the Year by the American Theatre Organ Society, Lance Luce began playing the theatre pipe organ at age 10 at the Royal Oak Theatre near his Michigan home. At 18, he won first place honors in the Yamaha National Electone organ competition and, the next year, was appointed head organist at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Luce has made many recordings, including participating in the celebrated “Theatre Organ Greats: A Salute to Radio City Music Hall,” and works with the Fox Theatre and Redford Theatre in Detroit, and the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor.
“We’re delighted to bring Lance Luce to Sarasota,” says Fischer. “Lance is one of the most vibrant contemporary theater organists. He’s known for his dynamic performances and top-level technical abilities.”
The MTOS season continues on February 15 with Clark Wilson, who will perform his original score to the silent movie, The Kid Brother, a comedy starring Harold Lloyd. Wilson is one of the leading scorers of silent photoplays in America today. On March 15, the president of the American Theatre Organ Society, Ken Double, accompanied by vocalist Amy Connours, will perform popular solos and a surprise duet.
“We’re thrilled to bring these esteemed organists to our area,” says Fischer. He adds that the organization’s celebrated pipe organ is equally esteemed—a legendary Wurlitzer theater pipe organ According to Fischer, the instrument had been originally installed in the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville in 1927. A MTOS member discovered it in a Miami warehouse in 1996.
“That’s when we knew we had a rescue operation on our hands,” says Fischer.
And what an operation it was.
“On a couple of hot August weekends, members convoyed it to Miami with a rental truck,” Fischer recalls. “Volunteers removed the organ, piece by piece and hauled it back to a warehouse in Sarasota.” MTOS members then lovingly disassembled and rebuilt the grand old Wurlitzer. Despite the thousands of hours of volunteer labor, the restoration costs for materials and necessary professional support totaled more than $250,000. The restored instrument debuted in 2001 and today, the organ enjoys a new home and a new purpose at Grace Church in Sarasota where it is heard weekly as part of worship services, and monthly as it is utilized for meetings and concerts presented by the Manasota Theatre Organ Society.
“The grand old organ has one universal purpose,” says Fischer. “It exists to enrich the lives of listeners with the sounds of beautiful music. I’m happy to say, thanks to the work of MTOS, it’s doing exactly that.”
About Manasota Theatre Organ Society
Manasota Theatre Organ Society (MTOS), a branch of the American Theatre Organ Society, was founded in November 1991. Its first project was the renovation of the 1926 Aeolian Duo Art pipe organ in the Charles Ringling Mansion, which is now part of New College of the University of South Florida. MTOS strives to promote the awareness of America’s theater pipe organ heritage and continues to present concerts featuring the 4/32 Wurlitzer theater pipe organ located at Grace Church in Sarasota.