The sixth organ to be featured here is the magnificent 5-manual eighty-rank WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ, owned by Jasper Sanfilippo of the van der Mer Manor, now known as the Victoria Palace, in Barrington Hills, Illinous.
The instrument was actually built up from many different WurliTzers Jasper had collected. See Jasper Sanfilippo's website for more details.
This is the 5/80 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
installed at Jasper Sanfilippo's Victoria Palace
in the Place de la Musique Salon.
The massive organ console controls 8,000 pipes, percussions and sound effects in five rooms behind the four-story high curtain.
Robert Ridgeway, curator of this fine WurliTzer, has this to say about the organ:
Looking down at the stage.
The beautiful gold leafed Jasper Sanfilippo console was constructed by Ken Crome as a brand new five manual shell built as a copy of the original Paradise console (later stripped and veneered ala Centre Theatre by Richard Vaughn, and finally purchased by Bill Brown). It was not a modified original. It was entirely new for that project.
All the keyboards are full length and the entire shell was increased in dimensions (but scaled the same) to accommodate well over 400 stops. Joseph DuciBella and David Junchen carefully researched the original existing Paradise photos and were able to replicate the console shell decorations, included obtaining the four cupids on top from the same company in Chicago that supplied them originally.
After Ken Crome built the Sanfilippo console shell, he built at least two more to the same basic design and dimensions but for only four manuals: the John Ledwon console in Agoura, California, and the Milhous Collection console (controlling the enormous Walker digital instrument) in Boca Raton, FL.
One of five chambers.
The Sanfilippo organ was the brainchild of the late David Junchen, one of the most gifted men to ever to be involved with our hobby. He was a superb music arranger, gifted author (we are all eagerly anticipating his book), fine player, and most of all, a technician who understood how all these components meld together to create a musical and useful instrument.
David's vision for the Sanfilippo organ was that it should be able to play the works of any composer. To this end there are multiples of many things, all voiced with different levels, tonalities and unique qualities.
There are four Tibias....not as stand alone ranks as was suggested as an idea on this list, but completely unified to play at all the necessary pitches expected today and available on nearly all the manuals.
There are nine Vox Humana ranks, each with a different vowel sound and ranging from so soft that when the shades are closed it is nearly inaudible to an assertive foil to the 25" Orchestral Tibia.
There are eighteen ranks of strings, each with different levels of intensity so that you can terrace the music as necessary in your combinations.
There are fifteen ranks of reeds (not counting the Voxes), covering all aspects of tonality and intensity.
There are forty-one separate tremulants so that you can have whatever theatrical sounds you want, but the organ is quite stable and powerful with all the trems off.
With two independent four-rank mixtures, you can achieve remarkable classical organ sound for everything from Bach to transcriptions.
Four 32' nineteen 16' pedal stops give more than sufficient underpinning for any and all organ and orchestral works.
The thing to remember is that half of the ranks in the organ are softer than what you would normally encounter (and the other half, obviously, are powerful), and with nearly 100 3" thick swell shades you have a dynamic range second to none.
The dozen or so CDs made on it by a variety of musicians amply demonstrate how all of the above cohesively work to make spectacular music. The latest release by Jelani Eddington entitled Musical Fireworks covers all facets of theatre, popular, classical and transcription playing on one album.
The Sanfilippo organ is only one two organs of which I am aware that can encompass this vast tonal texture...and the other one is in Philadelphia and it has every other feature you could ask for except for a truly "theatrical" division with deep tremulants.
To hear this for yourselves go to www.rjeproductions.com and order Musical Fireworks. You will NOT be disappointed. For those of you who have never experienced the Sanfilippo instrument in person, it will expand your musical horizons and expectations in ways you couldn't have even imagined.
Robert Ridgeway, Curator
Sanfilippo Foundation Collection
Barrington Hills, IL