Ken DoubleTheatre Organist

On Sunday, April 22nd at 2:00 PM, Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts welcomes back to the Lincoln Hall McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer one of the preeminent theatre organists and recording artists of the day – KEN DOUBLE. This internationally acclaimed, world traveled organist will perform a program of diverse theatre organ favorites from his ten CDs.  Theatre organ mavens will be spell bound by his dazzling arrangements that will show the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer and its percussion instrument “toy shelf” to their full glory!

Tickets are Adults $25, Members $20 an Students $5.  at 2:00 PM in Lincoln Hall.  After the concert, ARCA $100 and above donors are invited to attend a reception at RiverStone Mansion.

During his concert career, Ken Double has performed all over the United States in addition to seven tours of Australia and New Zealand and two trips to Great Britain, including stops in Seattle, WA; Wilmington, DE; Tampa, FL; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; the famous Casa Loma in Toronto. In addition to his hundreds of concerts, he has ten CD’s to his credit, including  The Music of Casa Loma, the first-ever recording on the Mighty Wurlitzer in the Great Hall of Toronto’s historic castle.  He also shares the great privilege of being one of the two organists who perform at the Atlanta Fox Theatre on famed Mighty Mo, the great Moller organ in Atlanta.   Ken is thrilled with the opportunity to return to scenic Foxburg, PA for another visit with the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Ken Double and Skip Stine at the University of Oklahoma, Sharp Hall

ARCA’s McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Organ

McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ – www.denniskeyesphotography.com

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.

Named for Paul McKissick, who lovingly and painstakingly rebuilt the instrument over eleven years, 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 ten 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.

In 2012, the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer Legacy Fund was established in honor of Paul and Sally McKissick, to maintain the organ and insure the future of this extraordinary instrument for future audiences.  Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund may do so by contacting ARCA at info@alleghenyriverstone.org.

See more on the Paul McKissick Story and the McKissick Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

About the Artist

Ken Double has smoothly moved from two performing careers in his nearly 40-years on stage, on radio and on television. His broadcasting career included play-by-play work for the NBA Indiana Pacers, Purdue basketball, the Indy 500 and 17 years of NHL, IHL and AHL hockey.   After 33 years in broadcasting, he put the organ lessons of his youth along with his “gift of gab” to work in a new career.

A Chicago native who now calls Atlanta home, Ken began organ lessons at age 8; while in college in Indianapolis played the organ at Tommy Bartlett’s Water Show in Wisconsin Dells; for sporting events at Market Square Arena; has performed hundreds of concerts all over the world; and has 18 recordings to his credit, including his latest, Let’s Play Two, which features two private installations in North San Diego County, CA.

Ken takes pride in having performed the Grand Opening concerts on the restored theatre organs at the Long Center in Lafayette, IN; the Wurlitzer at Manual High School Indianapolis; the Page pipe organ at the Anderson, IN Paramount Theatre; and at the Indianapolis Warren Performing Arts Center Barton organ, all where for many years, Ken called home.

Ken has performed all over the country in addition to his seven tours of Australia and New Zealand, and two trips to Great Britain.

He operates Ken Double Entertainment; is the current president of the ATOS chapter in Atlanta; is President of the Long Center Theatre Organ Society in Lafayette, IN; and after leaving ATOS’ top post, he is now assisting the effort to restore the mammoth Midmer-Losh organ, “The largest musical instrument in the world,” at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as the chief fund-raiser for the Historic Organ Restoration Committee.

He also shares the great privilege of being one of the two organists who perform at the Atlanta Fox Theatre on famed Mighty Mo, the great Moller organ in Atlanta.

Ken is thrilled with the opportunity to return to scenic Foxburg, PA for another visit with the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Sportscaster, musician, promoter, executive – Ken has worn many hats in his professional career with an aim at having fun and getting paid for it! Or, as the song goes, “Nice work if you can get it.”

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