BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Matt Spindler has been managing Bakersfield’s Majestic Fox Theater for six years now, and though in his time at the 93-year-old theater he has overseen a succession of restoration projects, large and small, one upgrade has long eluded him.
An organ — the kind of rich, deep, versatile instrument that, in the hands of a capable organist, can stir the soul.
“I really hope our city understands that this is a big deal,” Spindler said, “and comes in and listens to it.”
Organs were common in theaters in the early part of the previous century, especially to set the mood for silent films. And the Fox, Spindler said, will almost certainly do just that. Clara Bow, anyone? Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu? Sure.
Concerts are another likely use for the organ, which will reside on a moveable platform inside the Fox. Also coming: organ lessons for kids.
Spindler had an organ at his previous stop, Visalia’s Fox Theater. He has long wanted one for the Bakersfield Fox, but searched in vain. Until now.
Monday afternoon, the Fox took delivery on a Rodgers organ – model and other specifics yet to be discovered. Rodgers, a 65-year-old Oregon manufacturer, builds organs used in churches, colleges and performance centers – including the Royal Albert Hall in London – and, now, the Bakersfield Fox Theater.
The organ was donated by a family in Florida and shipped 3,000 miles to California – at a cost of $6,500. Spindler said it’s worth every dime.
“It’s got all the bells and whistles,” he said. “The car horns, the ocean – it’s got all that in there. It was in a theater somewhere. We’re just trying to find out where right now.”
Art Bynum, instrumental in the instrument’s acquisition, has been trying to find an organ for the Fox for four years.
“(We’re) gracious that the people let us have it,” he said. “At no charge. The Fox Theater, I think, is really going to like having an organ in here. Give them a totally different venue.”
It will take some time to get the organ wired into the Fox’s sound system. And then there’s the issue of who plays it. Applications are now being accepted.