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Wurlitzer fetches a mighty rental

August 02, 2008|From the Associated Press

Jack Moelmann is a retired Air Force colonel with a passion for playing the pipe organ. His love for the instrument runs so deep that he recently plunked down $118,182 to fulfill a lifelong dream: to perform on the famed Wurlitzer organ at Radio City Music Hall.

Next Saturday, the 67-year-old Moelmann will sit at the ebony horseshoe-shaped keyboard console at the magnificent Art Deco concert hall for a single evening performance in what he calls "the mecca of places to play."

The organ at Radio City is the largest theater pipe organ ever built by the Wurlitzer Co. Installed in 1932, the year Radio City opened, it features four keyboards, 58 sets of pipes and twin consoles that can be independently operated.

Tickets for the event are $50, but Moelmann has no illusions of making money or attracting a huge audience. The theater holds 6,000.

"I'll be happy with 1,000 people," he says. "I'm going there to gratify myself by playing . . . and to show off what the Music Hall has in the way of an organ."

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