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Multnomah to Dedicate Wurlitzer-type Theater Pipe Organ

1/13/2006

Multnomah Bible College will inaugurate its custom made, Wurlitzer-type theater pipe organ at the men's varsity basketball game on January 21, 2006. The organ is one of only two such Theater organs in the US housed and in use by a college. Donna Parker, an internationally known organist, will play at the dedication.

"This organ is a hybrid of a vintage Wurlitzer pipe organ with new and custom-made components," said Art Thompson, the technician behind constructing Multnomah's organ. "I salvaged and restored the pipe-work and some components from an old Wurlitzer. When I found it, it was partially restored but had a lot of water damage from a leaky storage facility."

Once Thompson had the parts he needed from the Wurlitzer, he had only to find the pieces that were missing. "I combined the surviving Wurlitzer parts with new and custom parts from Wicks Organ Company and others. Basically, I've built an entirely new instrument that is a replica of a Wurlitzer."

A project in the works since 1996, Thompson made sure to build a mechanically sound instrument that is capable of playing for years to come. "I've built it so that it can be controlled by computer to play by itself, or to assist a human musician." Thompson added, "And it will play for decades without maintenance."

Donna Parker, the American Theatre Organ Society's "Organist of the Year" for 1996, will play Multnomah's organ for it's dedication. Parker opened the Paramount Music Palace in 1979 and was the featured organist for over ten years. As a teenager, she was the organist for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and has since recorded several albums. Parker now lives in the Portland area, but continues to perform across the United States and around the world.

The organ will be dedicated to the memory of Jim Worthington. Worthington, who died in December 2002, had a significant impact on the athletic department at Multnomah as a long-time employee, volunteer and sports fan. He donated his own time and resources to maintain the gym, drive the team bus, buy equipment and supplies, and support the athletic program in any way he could. Worthington would also visit Multnomah's alumni and donors.

The dedication will take place on Multnomah Bible College's campus in Lytle Gymnasium at 7:30 pm, before the men's varsity home game against Cascade College. For more information about the pipe organ dedication, please contact the athletics department at 503.251.5395 or email dwalter@multnomah.edu.