Lisa Condit spoke with Don Phipps, The Hanover Theatre’s organ expert, resident organ curator and so much more. Don celebrates his 85th birthday this month with a special, free concert. Read on for highlights from his September 23 WCRN interview, or listen to the entire interview below!
Lisa: Don, you’re one of my favorite people involved with the theatre.
Don: Sixty-five years ago I became interested in theatre organ pipe organs, and over that period of time I collected a large number of parts, probably the equivalent of two tractor trailer loads. When I retired, I suddenly discovered I had nothing to do, and I restarted my hobby and after six and a half years of labor, 10,000 hours total time and more money than I even want to admit, I managed to assemble what was then the largest theatre organ in New England. I was very lucky to meet up with Troy Siebels, who was starting the forward motion on The Hanover Theatre.
Lisa: It’s been an incredible journey, for sure. Just listening to you talk about that reminds me of before we were even open. People thought the founders were crazy, but meanwhile, behind the scenes, there was all that positive energy and collaboration.
Don: The first year we hadn’t completed enough of it to make it useable. The next year we had about two-thirds of the organ playing. The following year it was completed. I know last year, there were 20,744 paid admissions. Just to expose that number of people to an instrument that is one of the two instruments that is indigenous to the American culture is a privilege we welcome.
What are your memories of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ?