BRETT VALLIANT – Journey Into Melody

Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts is proud to present the acclaimed, young organist, BRETT VALLIANT, as he takes you on a Journey Into Melody at the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer on Sunday, May 23 at 2 PM in Foxburg’s Lincoln Hall.

Join us on a gorgeous spring afternoon as Brett takes us on an excursion of melodic favorites from the classics to classic rock, ragtime, great marches, and of course music of the theater! One of two resident organists at the iconic Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona, Brett performs on the world’s largest theatre organ and entertains thousands of patrons each year.

Acclaimed for his performances at Organ Stop Pizza, Brett has toured extensively as a concert artist throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.  He also is known for accompanying and scoring silent films and appears annually at several film festivals.

In addition to regular appearances at American Theatre Organ Society and American Guild of Organists conventions, Brett For 21 years was the organist and music director of First United Methodist Church of Wichita, Kansas, where he played a large pipe organ seen and heard by thousands in the Midwest on the church’s television program.  He has also been the Artist-In-Residence for the Wichita Wurlitzer – the former New York Paramount Wurlitzer organ now housed in Wichita – on which he often performs.

Reopening Compliant with PA COVID Guidelines

ARCA is presenting its 2021 season COVID compliant with the Pennsylvania State Guidelines. Please refrain from attending if you are ill.   Temperatures will be taken before entry. Masks are required for entrance and to be worn inside. Hand sanitizer will be available.

Seating is socially distanced to 50% occupancy – a total of 55 tickets.  Because seating is limited, reservations are recommended:  724-659-3153. Reservations for reserved seats in hall quadrants will be taken by phone. If socially distanced reservations have filled the 50% quota, tickets will not be available at the door. 

Families and groups will be seated together. Walk-ins are welcome only if socially distanced seating remains – cash or check at the door.  Tickets may be purchased online here.  Tickets are Adults $25, Members $20, Students $5.  Call to Reserve at 724-659-3153 and pay by cash or check at the door.

About the Artist

Brett Valliant is an organist enjoying opportunities to play the music he loves on the instrument he loves.  Whether at an organ in a concert hall, a majestic church organ, or a mighty Wurlitzer in a theatre, Brett is right at home.

Brett was inspired by hearing the organ at church when he was just three years old.  At age 4 he began piano instruction and soon after was studying organ as well.  By the age of 12 Brett was employed as a church organist, having held onto the dream he had had at such an early age. By age 19, he had performed his first international concert tour.

For 21 years Brett was the organist and music director of First United Methodist Church of Wichita, Kansas, where he played a large pipe organ seen and heard by thousands in the Midwest on the church’s television program.  He has also been the Artist-In-Residence for the Wichita Wurlitzer – the former New York Paramount Wurlitzer organ now housed in Wichita – on which he often performs.

Brett studied organ at Wichita State University as well as privately.  His recordings have been featured on National Public Radio’s Pipe Dreams as well as the National Bible Broadcasting Network.

Today Brett is one of two resident organists at the iconic Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona.  Organ Stop Pizza houses the world’s largest theatre organ and entertains thousands of patrons each year.  Never heard of pizza and theatre organ music.  Here’s Brett introducing the Organ Stop Pizza!

In addition to his playing at Organ Stop, Brett is known for accompanying and scoring silent films and appears annually at several film festivals.  In addition to regular appearances at American Theatre Organ Society and American Guild of Organists conventions, he has toured extensively as a concert artist throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.

In his free time Brett enjoys sailing, skating, cooking, mid-century collection, and playing the piano and accordion.

The McKissick Mighty Wurtlitzer

The Wurlitzer organ in Lincoln Hall is one of the best examples of this class of theatre organ. ARCA’s Wurlitzer contains seventeen ranks of pipes and is characterized by a balanced blend of unmistakeable Wurlitzer ‘sounds”.  Built in 1928 at the Wurlitzer Organ factory in North Tonawanda outside of Buffalo and numbered OPUS 1989, the organ originally was installed in Cleveland’s Uptown Theatre.  It was played for several years accompanying silent movies.  With the end of the silent film era it was subsequently purchased by Richard Wheeler, a Cleveland organist, and remained in his home until Wheeler passed.  Paul McKissick purchased it from the Haynes Company in North Canton, Ohio, where it had been in storage.

Paul lovingly and painstakingly rebuilt the instrument over eleven years and in 1999 the restored Wulrtlizer was installed in McKissick’s garage at their home in Lake Latonka near Mercer, PA.  The organ became known as the Latona Pipes, and was played in annual benefits concerts to raise money for the DeBence Museum in Franklin.  Dr. Arthur and Patricia Steffee attended one of the concerts.  When Paul decided to downsize and was seeking a place for the Wurtlizer for the next generation, Dr. Arthur and Patricia Steffee, ARCA’s founders, purchased it to enhance the newly restored Lincoln Hall, on the second floor of the Foxburg Free Library.

Its seventeen ranks of pipes translate to 60 notes per voice or rank, more than 1200 pipes and 6,000 moving parts to make the Wurlitzer sound.  Only the relay and computer are not authentic or vintage parts on the organ.  The installation included one of Wurlitzer’s most unique features, the decorative ‘Toy Shelf’ of miniature instruments, which are displayed in a rear balcony in Lincoln Hall and are all powered by the organ. The marimba was added and all the associated drums, cymbals, bells and automatic piano produce a balanced blend of unmistakable Mighty Wurlitzer sounds.

ARCA audiences have enjoyed thirteen years of glorious music making on the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer by some of the worlds greatest theatre organists – including David Wickerham, Martin Ellis, Walt Strony, Scott Foppiano, Donna Parker, Jelani Eddington and Ken Double.  Jason Wiles is ARCA’s organ technician, maintaining and tuning the organ for each concert.

McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ – www.denniskeyesphotography.com

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