Ballarat Theatre Organ Society Presents:
The Ballarat Theatre Organ Society held their 2016 concert at Her Majesty’s Theatre on the 17th April. The principal artist Scott Harrison, is the Kingston City Organist (Melbourne) and showed his virtuosity on the Compton Theatre Organ. He played a variety of music and joined with Joshua Woods, saxophonist, in several items. Joshua is a local lad who received a Ballarat Arts Foundation Grant in 2015 before being accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts to study Jazz. Another BAF Grant recipient, Phillip Coyle intrigued the audience by playing the Frame Drum at the start of the concert. The unusual sound of this drum echoed around the dark auditorium from different areas and it was explained that for thousands of years. the frame drum has been used to call people together for happenings and events.
Soloists from the Philip Johnston School of Music showed their skills and there were many comments such as “ Ballarat has such amazing talent.” And “Loved those singers” Philip was the accompanist.
Scott has played theatre organs in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and USA. He had not played the Compton before and after the concert, described it as “The finest small theatre organ I have played. The tonal quality of the Compton was outstanding, as was the way the instrument sounded in the Theatre” Scott will be playing in the UK later in the year.
BALLARAT THEATRE ORGAN SOCIETY
The Ballarat Theatre Organ Society owns the Compton Theatre Organ installed in Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat. Built in England in 1937, it was organ Number 379 and made its first home in a picture theatre in Warrington in England.
After the coming of the Talkies (sound movies), the organ was removed from the Theatre and later purchased by a Melbourne man who brought it to Australia only to find it was impossible to install in his home. The newly formed Ballarat Theatre Organ Society then purchased the Compton and members spent ten years installing it in Her Majesty’s Theatre. At this time the Theatre was owned by the Royal South Street Society and known as The Memorial Theatre.
The opening concert on the 12th June 1982 was attended by theatre organ lovers from all over Australia and since then, thousands of people have been entertained by what has been described as the most complex musical instrument ever invented. With 677 pipes and over 200 keys the Compton can sound like an orchestra and has many special sounds that were used when accompanying the silent movies.
Several young Ballarat organists have won international competitions and as a result have travelled overseas to play at important venues in England and America. Many world famous organists have played this instrument which has a renowned quality of sound.
Compton Theatre Organ - Short history.
In the late 1920’s a church pipe organ was given an additional range of sounds and special effects so that silent movies could have accompaniment .
A theatre organ is reputed to be the most complex musical instrument ever invented.
The Ballarat Theatre Organ Society owns the Compton Organ in Her Majesty’s Theatre. Built in England, this instrument ( No 379) was installed in the Ritz Cinema in Warrington, Lancashire, England in 1937.
1969 Compton removed from Ritz Cinema after demise of silent movies.
1970 Shipped to Melbourne and then purchased by Ballarat Theatre
Organ Society. Installed in Her Majesty’s over ten years by
1982 Opening concert on 12th June
1982 to 1987, BTOS presented several concerts each year showcasing
famous overseas artists and local musicians. Theatre owned by RSSS.
1988 to 1991 Her Majesty’s Theatre closed for restoration.
1991 Concerts resumed at Her Majesty’s. Two concerts a year under
agreement with Ballarat City Council.
1999 Two Ballarat organists win sections of world wide American Theatre
Organ Competition and go to England to play and receive awards.
2000 Two more Ballarat organists win ATOS awards and go to America.
2007 Pit cover installed limiting access to organ but concerts continue
Next event Sunday 17th April 2016.
Patron of the Ballarat Theatre Organ Society since 1999
In 1970, a newly formed Theatre Organ Society in Ballarat decided to buy and install a Theatre Organ in the Memorial Theatre Ballarat now known as Her Majesty’s Theatre. Due to his interest in music and church organs, Winston became involved in the Society being elected as Treasurer in 1979.
The Compton Theatre Organ was installed in the Theatre with the opening concert held in 1982.
Winston became President for the first time in 1986 and has served at various times, as President, Secretary and Treasurer. He became our Patron in 1999 and his interest in the Society continues.