The Strand’s Mighty Allen Theatre Organ
The Strand’s mighty Allen theatre organ was originally purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hamilton in 1999 for installation in their Columbus, Ohio residence. At the time it was built by the Allen Organ Company of Macungie, Pennsylvania this four manual, thirty-three (33 digital) rank instrument was the largest stock theatre organ built by the Allen Company. It was through their generous gift of the organ to the Atlanta Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society that it was possible to install the instrument in the Earl Smith Strand Theatre.
In 1971, the Allen Organ Company introduced the first digital computer organ with revolutionary technology that changed the entire world of sound production. The digital computer organ was the first musical instrument to use digital sampling, a process by which recorded sounds are stored in digital memory for accurate sound reproduction. Since 1971, many advances have been made to digital technology with Allen being the first company to develop a fully software based organ. The Strand’s Mighty Allen is one of those instruments! This Renaissance organ includes many advances in the realistic production of pipe organ sound. The instrument’s sound samples include attack, steady state, decay and note by note voicing capability.
The Strand’s Mighty Allen Theatre Organ has been custom voiced to the Strand’s 600 seat auditorium by house organist Ron Carter and Allen technician Alan Buchannan. In addition to the revolutionary technology used in building this instrument, the placement of twenty four (24) 90 pound speaker cabinets, powered by sixteen (16) 100 watt amplifiers , place in the large pipe organ chambers on each side of the Proscenium arch magnifies the realism of the theatre pipe organ sound.
This instrument was designed to replicate a large mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ from the 1920s with the pipe samples taken from the Hollywood Philharmonic organ designed by famed theatre organist George Wright. Mr. Wright was a perfectionist and was constantly experimenting with his theatre organ to achieve the best possible sound. Additionally, the Strand instrument has a digital toy counter that activates “special effect sounds” like car horns, whistles, gun shots, train whistle, thunder and many others that are used in the accompaniment of silent film. The Mighty Allen Theatre Organ is a true “unit orchestra” in every sense of the word. The organist becomes a “one man band” by using all of the resources of this state of the art to entertain and make great music!