David Wickerham Benefit – At the Wurlitzer

David Wickerham - Version 2Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts proudly presents the improvisational genius and world-class keyboard artistry of audience favorite David Wickerham on Sunday, October 6 at 2:00 PM in Lincoln Hall.

One of the preeminent theatre organists in the world, no one makes Lincoln Hall’s McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre organ sound more glorious or entertains our appreciative and enthusiastic audience better than Dave Wickerham! With his brilliant theatre organ arrangements and improvisation of audience requests, his is truly world class theatre organ artistry from one of the kindest, gentlest and most generous souls... evidenced by the glow you feel having experienced his inspired, genius performance. http://www.davewickerham.com

Dave Wickerham at the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Organ in Lincoln Hall

Benefit Opportunity for the Wickerham Family

In April of this year, Dave’s beloved wife Rhonda was diagnosed with metastatic cancer.  To support Rhonda in her treatment, Dave has taken a personal leave from performing; he has canceled concerts domestically as well as a tour to Australia and New Zealand.  

Because of the loss of income due to Dave’s leave from performing, Dave’s children have created a gofundme campaign as he supports Rhonda through her treatments in this challenging time. https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-rhonda-sue-wickerham-cancer-fight

Message from Dave and Rhond’s children on Gofundme:
In support of our mother, Rhonda Sue Wickerham, we her three children are requesting your help. This is not something we do lightly as our parents, David and Rhonda, have instilled in us the desires to be self sufficient, humble, and to work for what we earn. This news has shocked us and while we are concerned, cautious, and scared, we are also remaining hopeful, positive and supportive for our mother. We truly have been blind-sighted by this diagnosis…

David is a traveling musician who plays the theater pipe organ for a living. He travels the nation and internationally for work and is the sole provider as well as currently full time caregiver to Rhonda. Because David is self-employed there are no sick days, vacation days or PTO days, taking off work is 100% unpaid. Most of Rhonda’s doctors appointments are hours away from home. They have been traveling to and from appointments a few times a week for the last few weeks now. The gas and travel expenses are starting to add up as you can imagine… They need each other, as they are whole together. He is her rock and strength at the moment and between their requests for prayers and our request for help we’d like to get her great care for her needs.

In gratitude to Dave Wickerham for his many years of performances for Lincoln Hall audiences, ARCA is inviting Dave’s fans and friends attending the October 6 concert to participate in the fundraising campaign created by his children to support the Wickerham family, if they wish to do so.  

Friends interested in making a contribution to Dave and Rhonda may do so online at the gofundme site, by putting cash or a check payable to Dave Wickerham in a basket at the concert, or by taking an envelope with Dave’s address home with them.  These gifts all go directly to Dave Wickerham himself and are not tax deductible.  CDs also will be available for purchase at the concert if audience members want to take Dave’s inspiring music home with them, or buy early Christmas gifts.

All concert proceeds will go to Dave Wickerham. Adults $25, Members $20, Students $5.  You may purchase tickets online here, call to reserve:  724 659-3153 or pay by cash or check at the door.  ARCA is grateful to Board members Constance Hambrick Rennard and Ron Rennard for their sponsorship contribution of this concert.

Immediately following the concert, audience members will have a chance to greet Dave and Rhonda at the post-concert reception at the back of Lincoln Hall 

About the Artist

Dave Wickerham was born in Encino, California in 1962. He began playing the electronic organ at the age of four and had his first pipe organ experience at age10. His musical education started at age 7.

When he moved to Arizona in 1976, he became Associate Organist at the famous Organ Stop Pizza Restaurants in Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson. While in, he continued his musical studies with Roseamond Crowley, one of the few remaining descendants of the Louis Vierne line of organists. He attended the University of Arizona in Tucson on a full scholarship, pursuing classical organ studies for six years with Dr. Roy Johnson.

In 1984, Dave moved to the Chicago area to become Staff Organist at Pipes and Pizza in Lansing, Illinois. In addition to his performance there, he concertized frequently, as well as ministering musically and serving at various churches.

August of 1990 found the Wickerham family – Dave, his wife and two young children – moving to Wisconsin, where he was one of the featured Staff Organists at the Piper Music Palace in Greenfield, a position he held for 10 years.

In the spring of 2000, Dave ushered in the new millennium with a limited special engagement, as a featured organist at “Roxy’s Pipe Organ Pizzeria”, part of a $26,000,000 expansion phase at the FIESTA Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wickerham’s, Dave, Rhonda, and now three great kids, spent a year and a half there before returning back home to Wisconsin in August of 2001… For the next three years, Dave resumed his position at the Piper Music Palace and was also the Principal Organist at Williams Bay Lutheran Church in Lake Geneva, WI.

He enjoys concertizing frequently to many audiences including various chapters of the American Theatre Organ Society. In April of 1999, he took great pleasure being a feature artist in Melbourne, Australia for the convention of the Theatre Organ Society of Australia for which he received rave reviews. He returned “Down Under” for a six-week concert tour in Australia and New Zealand during the summer of 2003 and completed similar tours in November of 2012 and October/November of 2015.

Dave also enjoys recording and has recently “sold out” his fourth CD “Sounds of Music” recorded on the famous 5 Manual, 80 Rank Theatre Organ at the Sanfilippo Residence in Barrington, IL. There are two NEW recording projects that are soon to be completed and released.

After seven years as Organist – Curator with the legendary Milhous Collection in South Florida, Dave and his family currently enjoy living in Upper Michigan where he has accepted the position of Co-Manager and Organist in Residence at Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls. This 1927 theatre is now a regional Performing Arts Center and houses a 3 manual, 21 rank Moller theatre organ that Dave also looks after. Additionaly, his wife Rhonda – at his side – has worked as Co-Manager of this beautiful and historic venue.

Dave and Rhonda have three grown kids, two married with children of their own.  So, with three grandchildren and concertizing, there are many opportunities for travel.

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