All posts by pittsb23_wp

Pierre Fracalanza – September 9, 2017

Pierre Fracalanza

Pierre Fracalanza

Saturday, September 9, 2017
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

Get your groove on with a special tribute to 1960s television when theatre organist Pierre Fracalanza returns to Pittsburgh. This lively program will sometimes be groovy, sometimes be campy, and always stir up memories of your favorite 1960s TV stars and entertainers. The program features Fracalanza’s multi-media approach to theatre organ using unique projected videos to create a concert experience not only for the ears, but also for the eyes.

“I have a brand new program ready for Pittsburgh,” says Pierre. “We’re going to channel Ed Sullivan, plus many of the memorable television theme songs from the sixties. I also want to salute many of the great singers that appeared often on variety shows in the 1960s, people like Dionne Warwick, Petula Clark and even Dusty Springfield!” Also included in the proceedings will be a quiz on sixties television themes in which the audience can participate.

Pierre reflects fondly on his first visit to Pittsburgh in 2016. “I had such a great time playing for the PATOS audience last year. The people were just the best, and I immediately knew after that show that I wanted to return.”

The son of a concert organist, Pierre Fracalanza attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. In 2014, Pierre was a featured artist at the American Theatre Organ Society’s annual convention in Chicago.

As usual, tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance. Students are admitted free with ID. Use the following link to buy your ticket online today!

Silent Movie – November 4, 2017

Silent Movie

Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie

with live accompaniment by David Peckham

Saturday, November 4, 2017
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

Mel Brooks’ hilarious 1976 tribute to Hollywood’s silent era contains only one word of dialogue (and the movie is in color)! Starring Mel, Marty Feldman, and Dom DeLuise, plus cameos by other famous celebrities, Silent Movie is a classic spoof of silent filmmaking.

Live theatre organ accompaniment will be provided by David Peckham, the 2016 American Theatre Organist of the Year and house organist at the Clemens Center in Elmira, NY.  Educated at the Eastman School of Music, David’s lively score on the PATOS 3 manual Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ will give patrons the authentic silent movie experience.

Brooks and Peckham:  silent cinema at its best!  Don’t miss it.

As usual, tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance. Use the following link to buy your ticket online today!

Ken Double and Skip Stine – March 3, 2018


Ken Double and Skip Stine

Saturday, March 3, 2018
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

Gifted theatre organist and entertainer Ken Double will return to the PATOS Wurlitzer at Keystone Oaks Auditorium on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 7:30PM, this time with former Harry James trumpeter Skip Stine.

This brand-new “Double Play” program will salute the great Harry James Orchestra, with which Mr. Stine performed and recorded in the 1960s and 1970s.

“This will be anything but an organ recital,” says Ken Double.  “It’s a show that will introduce you to the theatre organ in a new context.”

Ken and Skip have performed together dozens of times since 2007, reviving the sweet trumpet solos on Harry James hits such as “You Made Me Love You” and “I Had the Craziest Dream”.  The duo also has two CD recordings to their credit, both of which feature Ken’s theatre organ and Skip’s trumpet.

Ken Double is a former sports broadcaster and arena organist who retired from announcing in 2008, now devotes himself full-time to his theatre organ career.  Ken also was executive director of the American Theatre Organ Society for ten years until 2016.

Skip Stine is a graduate of the United States Navy School of Music.  He played for numerous big name orchestras and singers in the 1960s, including Buddy Morrow, Frank Sinatra  and Tony Bennett.  His career culminated with a long association with Harry James, appearing not only with the band on the Las Vegas strip, but also in numerous studio recordings and concerts across the US and Europe.  Skip currently teaches music at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA.

“Ken’s last appearance in Pittsburgh (with Venezuelan singer Daniel Mata in May 2017) was such a crowd pleaser and musical triumph,” says Dale Abraham, President of PATOS.  “We eagerly await his new program on March 3rd.”

Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.  To order tickets online, please click on the following Showclix link:

Jay Spencer – September 22, 2018

Jay Spencer accompanies The Mark of Zorro

Saturday, September 22, 2018
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

The Mark of Zorro, a swashbuckling 1920 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks, will be presented with live theatre organ accompaniment on Saturday, September 22, 2018, 7:30pm at Keystone Oaks Auditorium in Dormont.

Silent film organist Jay Spencer, the house organist at the Palace Theatre in Canton, Ohio, will accompany this landmark film on the 3 manual PATOS Wurlitzer theatre organ.

This is the film that launched the movie career of Douglas Fairbanks.  He was a 1920s screen idol famous for playing action heroes in such pictures as “Robin Hood,” “The Black Pirate,” and “The Three Musketeers.”  His marriage to another screen idol, Mary Pickford, was the most famous in Hollywood, affording both even more popularity among the film-going masses.

“This film hasn’t been shown in Pittsburgh for quite some time,” according to Dale Abraham, president of PATOS, “so this is a great opportunity for film buffs to experience the movie with live organ accompaniment, exactly the way it was presented in 1920.”

Jay Spencer is an expert silent film accompanist and has appeared in Pittsburgh many times, most recently for PATOS in 2016 with “The Cat and the Canary.”  He’s celebrating 25 years as house organist at the ornate Palace Theatre, home of the only Kilgen theatre organ still playing in its original venue.  The Kilgen was installed in Canton’s Palace in 1926.   “It’s played practically every weekend,” says Mr. Spencer.  “The people love it here.”

The love of organ runs deep in Jay Spencer’s family, too.  “Both sets of my grandparents owned organs, and my dad’s mom played piano for silent movies in the 1920s.” Jay also has three organs in his own home.

As for performing with silent films at the Palace Theatre, Jay muses, “I can’t believe I get to do this, playing this instrument that is 92 years old and still going strong.”

To purchase tickets, please click on the following link:   Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.


Nathan Avakian – November 3, 2018

Nathan Avakian

Saturday, November 3, 2018
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

The always energetic organist Nathan Avakian returns to Pittsburgh with his presentation of International Youth Silent Film shorts, along with solo concert selections.

Nathan’s silent shorts were filmed by youth under his tutelage just a couple of years ago.  A rarity:  silent films made in the 21st century!  Nathan will accompany six films live on the PATOS Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ.

Nathan, just 26 years old, will also present modern musical selections from his youthful repertoire between the silent shorts. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear theatre pipe organ music with a modern update!

To purchase tickets, please click on the following link:   Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.


Tony Thomas – April 6, 2019

The Cameraman

Tony Thomas accompanies The Cameraman

Saturday, April 6, 2019
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

Enjoy Buster Keaton’s 1928 silent comedy classic The Cameraman with live theatre organ accompaniment by Tony Thomas. Keaton plays one of the worst newsreel photographers of all time — hounded by a mischievous monkey — with hilarious results!

Organist Tony Thomas will be making his fourth appearance for PATOS. His artistry will treat patrons to silent film as it was originally intended to be shown: with live organ and on the big screen!

Thomas is a nationally known pianist/organist/keyboardist, currently based in Memphis. Although Tony earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance under Gerhard Krapf at the University of Iowa in 1968, he is known best as a jazz artist.

Improvisation is his forte.  A love of the theatre organ came early in his musical life when, at age 8, he heard his first recordings of George Wright.  Not long after that, Tony was fortunate to see and hear the Count Basie Orchestra perform in person, and even “sat in” with the band’s rhythm section at rehearsal.  From that moment on, he was “hooked” on swing.  By age fourteen he was performing regularly on a 3/15 Barton in a local roller rink, and at age 15 became the youngest soloist ever to give a concert on the newly-installed 4/34 Wurlitzer at the Senate Theatre in Detroit.  Almost from his first acquaintance with the theatre organ, Tony was playing the instrument but hearing a big band in his musical ear!  His jazz influences are numerous, but probably Erroll Garner, Milt Buckner, George Shearing, and Bill Evans have helped to shape his musical conception on theatre organ – even though Tony has spent a lot of time over the years in small jazz ensembles on Hammond B3, doing the “nitty-gritty” thing as well.

He is a five-time winner of the N.A.R.A.S. (the “Grammy People”) Premier Player Award for Keyboards and/or Piano and was inducted recently into that organization’s Premier Player Hall of Fame.  He has recorded literally thousands of commercial music tracks as well as cuts with Joe Walsh, U2, Jimi Jamison (lead singer of the band “Survivor”), and, in Spring 2005, an album of standards with internationally known opera star, Kallen Esperian.  Tony has performed with Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Hank Crawford, and the late Richard “Groove” Holmes.


To purchase tickets, please click on the following link:   Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.

Clark Wilson – June 1, 2019

Clark Wilson

Saturday, June 1, 2019
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

Clark Wilson will perform concert selections and accompany several Laurel and Hardy silent film shorts.

A native of Ohio, Clark Wilson began his musical training at age nine. While growing up he accompanied numerous stage musicals and was organist at several churches. Following several years with the Schantz Organ Company as a reed voicer and tonal finisher, Clark’s professional playing career began with his appointment to the featured organist post at Pipe Organ Pizza in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has since been on the playing staffs at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis, Indiana; Pipes and Pizza in Lansing, Illinois; and is currently associated with Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona, where he is on the organ staff as well as having assisted with the planning and installation of the world’s largest Wurlitzer organ.

Clark’s recording credits include seven albums. He has given all-transcription recitals for the AGO, played for the 1990 Organ Historical Society convention, and performed at numerous National and Regional conventions of the ATOS, as well as giving a series of highly lauded workshops for young people’s Pipe Organ Encounters. Considered one of the finest practicioners of the art of silent picture scoring, he has also been a visiting lecturer on Theatre Organ and photoplay accompaniment for the Indiana University organ department. He has now developed curriculum and has been appointed to the organ faculty at the University of Oklahoma’s Organ Department, where he teaches applied theatre organ lessons, silent film scoring, and the history of the American theatre organ. He has concertized in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England, and done extensive silent film accompaniment, including at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, the Packard Foundation’s Stanford Theatre, UCLA, and the Fox Theatre for the Atlanta premier of the restored Metropolis. He plays a silent picture annually on the organ series at LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, has scored for Kino International for commercial release, and has performed at both the Cinequest and San Francisco Silent Film Festivals, as well as for the Los Angeles Conservancy. Since 1992 Clark has served as Resident Organist and organ conservator at the famed Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio (for the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts) and was chosen by them to repremier the renowned Chicago Theatre Organ on a bill that included him accompanying popular singer Michael Feinstein. He also headed the professional crew that began restoration on the Chicago’s landmark Wurlitzer for CAPA.

Along with a busy concert schedule, Wilson runs his own pipe organ business and is heavily in demand as a tonal consultant and finisher of both theatre and classical pipe organs; he has been given the singular honor of being brought to England multiple times for tonal finishing and consulting. He has received both the Technician of the Year and Organist of the Year awards from the American Theatre Organ Society, the only person to have done so, and his time is now nearly equally divided between concert and technical work. He has been professionally involved with more than 100 organ installations throughout North America and England and has provided consulting and voicing expertise for several different organ companies.

To purchase tickets, please click on the following link:  Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.

Tom Roberts and Dale Abraham – September 21, 2019

Tom Roberts and Dale Abraham accompany It

Saturday, September 21, 2019
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

Clara Bow in "It"

Enjoy the classic film that launched the “It Girl” sensation of the late 1920s and made a box office star of Clara Bow.  Back in 1927, if you had “It,” you had not only beauty and personality, but also an intangible quality that was irresistible! And the public went wild searching for “It.”

Tom Roberts is an expert in silent film accompaniment and is a premier pianist. He played for several years with singer Leon Redbone and also with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks Orchestra in New York City. He arranged the music for the film The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio. A long-time resident of Pittsburgh’s North Side, Tom serves as executive director of the Allegheny City Ragtime Orchestra.

The duo of Tom Roberts and Dale Abraham have accompanied numerous silent movies in the Pittsburgh area. Dale is the current president of the Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society. He also co-hosts 90.5FM WESA’s long running radio program Rhythm Sweet & Hot, featuring vintage music from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

The evening will also feature 16 year old Rowan Belt at the grand piano before the screening of the movie. Rowan’s musical talents are immense, and he will mightily impress the audience.

To purchase tickets, please click on the following link:   Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.

Disney Songbook – November 2, 2019

The Disney Songbook

Saturday, November 2, 2019
7:30 PM
Keystone Oaks High School (Dormont, PA)

The Disney Songbook

Dave Calendine will perform the Disney Songbook, plus accompany Disney silent short cartoons! Songs everyone knows and loves!

Dave is an organist for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and also serves as the president of the American Theatre Organ Society. Dave knows how to please an audience, and you will come away smiling!

To purchase tickets, please click on the following link:   Admission is $15 in advance, or $20 at the door.  Students are free with ID.

50th Anniversary Dinner & Concert

The Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society’s 50th Anniversary Gala originally scheduled for April 25, 2020 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society (PATOS) will mark its 50th Anniversary with a special gala occasion featuring the PATOS Mighty Wurlitzer at Keystone Oaks Auditorium in Dormont. This momentous event will include pre-dinner entertainment, followed by a catered dinner, and then a full concert.

“Not many arts organizations survive long enough to celebrate 50 years!” says Dale Abraham, president of the Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society. “We have had the pleasure of maintaining and presenting theatre organ in Pittsburgh for the past 50 years, and we aim to keep the instrument and its unique music alive for decades to come.”

There’s more! Historical photographs and other memorabilia celebrating the evolution of PATOS will be on display in the auditorium lobby. Also expect a door prize or two!

“A fiftieth birthday only comes around once, so we are going to do it up big,” says Dale Abraham.