The Friends of Rye Wurlitzer was formed in 1993 by enthusiast Richard Moore to restore the 1925 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ at The Milligan Theatre, Rye, the second oldest Wurlitzer in the country, having originally been opened by organist Jack Courtney at the Palace Cinema, Tottenham, on 6th April 1925 where it remained until it moved to Rye in August 1957.
The Wurlitzer was a Style D, Opus 999, with 2 manuals and 6 ranks of pipes (so around 450 pipes). Through a series of fund raising concerts and events, plus various grant applications, sufficient funding was raised, combined with much volunteer work, to restore the organ to playing condition and to move the console down from its original position on the balcony to assume pride of place, centre stage on a lift. It has undergone subtle but effective enhancement by the addition of a rank of Virtual (digitally sampled) Wurlitzer Pipework to add a String Celeste, which, along with a piano and harp samples, has kindly been provided by Paramount Virtual Organ Works, and with two additional ranks of real pipes, a Clarinet and a Kinura, making it a 2/9.
Regular Sunday concerts and musical weekends were held by the FORW, featuring the U.K.’s top organists and, with the organ in such good order, Richard turned some of his attention to the issue of who will still be able to play it in years to come. Do visit the Organfax Rye Wurlitzer Academy page to learn more about this exciting development. To allow time to devote to this, he stood down from his association with the FORW and handed over the reins to the new team.
Sadly, numbers dropped off and, due to ill health and other issues, the FORW team took the difficult decision not to re-start concerts post-pandemic. The good news is that, along with organist Michael Wooldridge, Richard Moore has stepped up to re-establish some very special Sunday concerts, so we very much hope you will enjoy coming along to hear this truly superb little Wurlitzer.
Concerts are on Sundays and start at 2.30pm (doors open 2pm). There is ample free car parking on site.
Admission is £12 including light refreshments at the interval.
|July 23rd||Michael Wooldridge (more details)|
with John Mann
|July 23rd||John Mann (more details)|
with Michael Wooldridge
|November 19th||Concert postponed due to all day closure of the level crossing, preventing access to the venue|
|February 18th||Nicholas Martin B.E.M. (more details)|