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    World’s Largest Pipe/Digital Organ to Be Installed at Castro Theatre in 2020

    Construction of the stunning console for the Castro Symphonic Theatre Organ has been completed, according to CODA (Castro Organ Devotees Association Promoting the Art of the Organ). The enormous instrument is now stored in a Zionsville, PA, warehouse awaiting installation at the Castro Theatre. Once the installation—projected to occur in early 2020—takes place, the Castro Theatre will be home to the world’s largest pipe/digital hybrid organ!

    CODA shares that the instrument has a full piano-length keyboard and a full orchestral sound library. “It will be unlike any instrument of its kind—capable of authentically representing the theatre organ, the symphonic organ, the classical organ and the symphony orchestra,” the nonprofit reports.

    When the organ is installed, its Wurlitzer/Kimball theatre pipe components will replace the current pipes, preserving the familiar cinematic sound. Additional wind-blown pipes, classical in style, will also be installed in the existing pipe chambers. Cutting-edge digital sampling technology will allow for sound to be dynamically sent throughout the Theatre, providing a thrilling surround-sound musical experience in an acoustically reverberatory environment appropriate to whatever style of music is being played.

    The theatrical sound will encompass the full specification of the beloved San Francisco “Fox Special,” the Wurlitzer that was moved out of San Francisco when the Fox Theatre was demolished in 1963.

    CODA also mentions that this new organ will be capable of providing the virtual sounds of the symphony orchestra. “This will not merely include some after-market General MIDI modules with ‘a few nice strings’—it will be the most expressive, gigabyte-heavy, instantaneous-response-time live performance orchestra in existence, with its own custom-designed independent sound system. This orchestral sample library ( ) is prominently used in the film-scoring industry. In short, any musical (or synthesized) sound can emerge from this instrument, sounding totally realistic and under multiple layers of control.”

    Allen Harrah, acclaimed pipe and digital organ builder—already responsible for two major organ installations in San Francisco, one in Los Angeles, and a huge six-manual organ in Hurricane, West Virginia—is bringing his expertise to this project, together with Castro organist David Hegarty, with whom he has worked closely in the past. Harrah collaborates with R.A. Colby Organbuilders who constructed the new console, and Walker Technical Company, which is providing the digitally sampled organ voices and the audio system.

    CODA is seeking donations to help pay for the project. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the donations are fully tax-deductible.