This nationally celebrated organist will perform selections from the Great American Songbook on the Wurlitzer pipe organ at Grace Church.
(Sarasota, FL) Manasota Theatre Organ Society (MTOS) is bringing three world-class organists to perform on the historic Wurlitzer theater organ it owns and maintains in Grace Church for the 2014 season. The series begins with one of America’s busiest and youngest professional theater organists, Mark Herman, January 19, 2014. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Performances are held at Grace Church, 8000 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. Concerts are at 2:30 p.m.; doors open at 1:15 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 941-776-3668.
“We’re delighted to bring Mark Herman to Sarasota,” said John Fischer, president of MTOS. “Mark is one of the most vibrant contemporary theater organists. He’s known for his dynamic performances and top-level technical abilities.”
In this program, Herman will showcase his passion for music from the 1920s and ’30s. The concert will include music by such classic composers as George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and more.
Herman’s festive repertoire puts him in great demand; he travels the world to perform more than 30 concerts and silent film presentations each year. In 2012, Herman was named the American Theater Organ Society’s Organist of the Year, the youngest person ever to receive this prestigious honor.
Herman studied with John Ferguson of Indianapolis, a globally recognized theater organ teacher. The equally renowned Christine Freeman was his classical piano teacher. After graduating with a degree in theater arts/management from DePaul University in Chicago, Herman relocated to Indianapolis where, in addition to performing, he became a representative of the Allen Organ Company for Meridian Music. Today, Herman is in demand as a voicing specialist and tonal consultant for Allen Organs and is proud to be an Allen Artist, showcasing new Allen Organs worldwide. Herman’s recordings include “Premiere” and “A Kid in the Candy Store.”
What drew him to the theater organ?
According to Herman, its seemingly infinite possibilities.
“The theater organ is unlike any other instrument,” he says. “It’s really a collection of instruments placed under the control of one individual. From strings to brass, woodwinds to percussions, the organist quite literally has an orchestra at his fingertips. And what an orchestra it is!”
Herman explains that theater organs are a uniquely American innovation, built in large numbers during the silent movie era. By the late 1920s, there were more than 7,000 organists employed in theaters across the United States. Entire orchestras would accompany silent films for the best-attended performances; a single organist would replace the entire orchestra for lesser-attended showings. The theater organ could also produce sound-effects, including wind, ringing telephones and sirens, to reflect the action on the screen.
“When people hear ‘organ music’ they think church music or classical music,” says Fischer, “but there’s so much more to it! It’s a rich heritage of joyful music. This season we’re bringing in performers known for their great showmanship who can do it justice. Audiences are sure to find these concerts lively and entertaining.”
The MTOS season continues to showcase prominent silent film scorer Clark Wilson, who will accompany the 1924 silent film comedy, Girl Shy, on February 16. Renowned theater organist Jelani Eddington will entertain with popular songs and his signature orchestral transcriptions on March 16.
About Manasota Theater Organ Society
Manasota Theater Organ Society (MTOS), a branch of the American Theater Organ Society, was founded in November 1991. Its first project was the renovation of the 1926 Aeolian Duo Art pipe organ in the Charles Ringling Mansion, which is now part of New College of the University of South Florida. MTOS strives to promote the awareness of America’s theater pipe organ heritage and continues to present concerts featuring the 4/32 Wurlitzer theater pipe organ located at Grace Church in Sarasota.