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The Melbourne Regent WurliTzers                                               by Julien Arnold

             The Regent's first organ was a 1928 style 270 WurliTzer of four manuals, 21  ranks of pipes, and grand piano.
             This organ was almost identical to the State Melbourne and Sydney organs, both style 270's, but the Regent
             organ lacked the 32' Diaphone pipes. The gleaming rosewood "French" or waterfall style console was located
             on a hydraulic lift to the left of the orchestra pit lift. This organ was very successful and was reputedly the finest
             sounding theatre organ in Australia, but was totally destroyed in the 1945 fire which destroyed the auditorium.

             The second organ was a 1927 style 260 WurliTzer of 3 manuals and 15 ranks of pipes, including 32' Diaphone
             pipes, and was brought over from  the Ambassadors Theatre Perth and augmented with four ranks and one
             keyboard from the Lyceum theatre Melbourne's WurliTzer 2/7. This made up the well  known  sound of the 4
             manual 19 rank Regent WurliTzer.  It is now in private ownership and in storage.

             The recently installed third Regent organ, is a style 285 WurliTzer, originally built for the Granada Theatre San
             Francisco in  1921, and was at the time reported as the largest theatre organ in the World. It was opened at the
             Granada  by  Oliver Wallace,  one  of America's finest  theatre organists, who was  in  later years to  become
             musical  director of Walt Disney Studios. The organ was of 4 manuals and 32 ranks, and  included an echo
             division over the proscenium. In 1929 a  solo scale Robert Morton Tibia was added, probably soon  after the
             Fox Theatre opened further up the street with a 4/36 WurliTzer, (the Fox organ had three Tibia ranks) which
             brought the organ up to a 4/33. As with many organs in American theatres in  later years, the Granada (later
             renamed the Paramount Theatre) WurliTzer fell silent. In 1960, an organ builder/enthusiast Ed Stout began the
             job of coaxing the mighty organ back to life. It was at this time the Robert Morton Solo Tibia was replaced with
             a  WurliTzer solo  scale Tibia.  During  the  next few years the organ  saw  many concerts  held,  with  famous
             organists such  as Ann  Leaf and  George Wright,  as well  as the  last  resident organist Tom  Hazleton  at the
             console. Oliver Wallace also returned to play his former WurliTzer.

             In 1965 however, the Paramount theatre closed, with George Wright playing the final concert. The organ was
             purchased by Howard Vellum's wife as a birthday present, was removed from the theatre as demolition began,
             and shipped in five huge trucks up to Portland Oregon, where it was installed in a large studio alongside the
             Vollum residence. Installation was completed in 1968, and with the addition of some classical ranks had grown
             to a total of 49 ranks. Howard was the co-founder of the Tektronix Company, and also founder of the Rodgers
             Organ Company. Following Howard's death some 5 years ago the organ was sold to David Junchen, an organ
             builder, who removed it to storage in Portland awaiting a suitable purchaser. Around this time Jasper Sanfilippo,
             of Barrington Hills Illinois, was contemplating enlarging his residence organ and building a large auditorium in
             which to install it, and as David was the main organ architect for the project Jasper purchased the Vollum organ
             from him with a view to installing the famous organ in a museum at a later date.

             I was approached by Staged Developments in 1994 to obtain a WurliTzer theatre organ for the Regent,  and
             after meeting with Tony Fenelon and John Atwell, it was agreed that a minimum organ that would be suitable
             for the Regent would be of four manuals and 28 ranks, complete with 32' Diaphones. Four days later, through
             my long time friend Lyn  Larsen, I had an agreement from Jasper Sanfilippo to sell the Granada WurliTzer to
             the Regent Theatre project. In September 1994, I flew to America to check over the 24 tonnes of stored organ.
             Finding all in order, I proceeded to organise a team and load the organ components from the fifth floor storage
             into two forty foot containers ready for shipping to Melbourne.

             While in Portland, I was able to purchase a third rank of Tibias, and load them into the containers. The organ
             as purchased  had 36 ranks of pipes, plus the extra Tibia made it 37, however following  advice from  Jonas
             Nordwall and Lyn Larsen, the Dennison Clarion rank has been dropped from the specification, so installed in
             the Regent Theatre is a 4/36 instrument, the original Granada/Paramount 33 rank specification,  plus a solo
             scale WurliTzer Tibia, a Gottfried French Trumpet and a WurliTzer wood Harmonic Flute.

             The  Regent WurliTzer is  installed  in four chambers,  Main,  Foundation,  Solo  and  Brass either side of the
             proscenium, with the 32' wood Diaphones laying horizontally on top of the Solo and Brass chambers. The two
             blowers totalling 45HP are installed in a room on top of the stage flytower.  The rebuilt 4 manual console has
             300 stopkeys surrounding the organist plus numerous other controls, and the organist controls the entire organ
             through a Pentium 100 computer which signals the latest sophisticated electronic state organ control system
             imported from  America.

             Prior to the removal of the organ from the Paramount, the echo organ Gamba and Gamba Celeste, the Brass
             Saxophone and  Krumet 'went missing',  while a big footed  electrician walked over the Viol  and Viol  Celeste
             from the echo organ, rendering them completely useless. All these ranks were replaced during the installation
             at the Vollum residence with ranks as close to the originals as possible.
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