Skip to content

news: MoMA to add theatre organ to its silent film accompaniments

Well, it’s happened. MoMA purchased all the necxessary hardware – keyboard, stand, organ pedals – for the Miditzer VTO (virtual theatre organ) this week. What this means is that when I am asked to play for a silent film at MoMA and want to use a theatre organ instead of piano…I can. For the last couple of years I’ve being doing this, but only when there was a 2 or 3 week block of shows, because it would mean my schlepping my own equipment down to MoMA and back. This way the equipment will already be there, and I just need to show up with my laptop.

This Friday and Saturday (today) I accompanied Hitchcock’s Blackmail and the Italian 1914 epic Cabiria with the Miditzer, and the response has been fantastic. I’m not saying this to toot my own (post-)horn, but out of excitement that silent film fans in NYC are finally getting to hear a theatre organ for accompaniment on a regular basis, something that ceased in the late 1980s. I hope this helps lead to an interest in bringing a real theatre organ back to NYC and to regular use (like at the Beacon Theater on B’way and 74th).

Tomorrow am playing at the annual street fair in Mamaroneck, where DW Griffith had studios and where I grew up. The town’s original 1926 movie theater is in the middle of the fair, and while it was cut up and plattered several years ago, its owners (Clearview Cinemas) give over one of the four screens each year on the day of the fest and I show silent comedy shorts. I got tour of the theater the first year we did this, in 2004, by Joe Masher who was at the time the regional manager for Clearview, and also involved with the Theater Historical Society. The Mamaroneck Playhouse’s original orchestra pit, dressing rooms, manager’s office et al are still intact.

Only a couple shows this week, and then almost daily from June 10 to 19…

Leave a Reply