June 19, 2017
Oklahoma History Center Presents “Ice Cream Social” Kilgen Organ Performance
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center is pleased to announce the second in a series of performances of the Kilgen theatre organ scheduled for Monday, July 31, 2017. The performance will take place in the Devon Great Hall at 7 p.m. and will feature award-winning organist Mark Herman. The theme for this performance will be “Ice Cream Social,” with the song selection chosen from a variety of seasonal compositions. Herman also will play an accompaniment to a short silent comedy called “Neighbors” starring Buster Keaton. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for members of the Oklahoma Historical Society and may be reserved by calling 405-522-0765.
Herman resides in Los Angeles, where he is president and tonal director of the Los Angeles Organ Company. In 2012 he was named the American Theatre Organ Society’s Organist of the Year and is the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious honor. Previously, he was overall winner of the Society’s Young Theatre Organist Competition in 2004.
The Kilgen Opus 5281, a four-manual, 14-rank theatre-style pipe organ was purchased by E. K. Gaylord for live WKY radio broadcasts. The performance history of this Kilgen organ dates back to April 13, 1936, when it premiered to the radio audience of WKY, broadcasting from the Skirvin Tower in downtown Oklahoma City. When WKY moved to their new location on East Britton Road, the Kilgen did not make the move to the new studio. Instead, the Kilgen was sold to the City of Oklahoma City and moved to the Municipal Auditorium (now the Civic Center Music Hall). For the next 47 years the organ remained in the Civic Center and was used for a variety of programs and concerts. Renovations to the Civic Center in the summer of 1998 did not include a place for the Kilgen organ, leaving the City of Oklahoma City to consider its fate. Dr. Bob Blackburn, then deputy executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, made a plea to keep the organ in Oklahoma. His intention was to make the Kilgen organ a featured part of the new Oklahoma History Center to open in November 2005. The city council agreed to donate the organ to the Oklahoma Historical Society. After more than two years of repair and restoration by the American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma, one of Oklahoma’s most interesting and complex musical instruments is now preserved for years to come.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.