November 6, 2017
“Great American Composers”: First 2018 Kilgen Organ Performance Featuring Jelani Eddington
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center is proud to welcome Jelani Eddington as the next artist in the ongoing series of Kilgen Organ performances. He will appear on Monday, January 22, 2018, at 7 p.m. in the Devon Great Hall with a song selection theme of “Great American Composers.” Tickets are $10 for OHS members and $20 for the general public. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 405-522-0765.
Eddington has been featured at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society and has toured extensively. He also has produced and marketed more than 30 theatre organ albums on some of the best-known and most dynamic instruments in the country. His 2014 performance of the “Main Title” from the Star Wars Symphonic Suite by John Williams has received more than 2.8 million views on YouTube.
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.