Lance Luce - Detroit Theater Organ Society
Senate Theater (D.T.O.S.)
Back to Theatre page
Back to Theatre page
My theatre organ playing was
influenced greatly by watching,
listening and learning from the
organists that played concerts at
the Senate theatre over the
years.  

The Senate is the third home for
this organ.  It began it's life in
1928 at the Fisher Theatre in
Detroit, made a brief stop at the
Iris Theatre in Detroit around
1961, and ended up spending 45
years at the Senate starting in
1964.

I was introduced to the Mighty
Wurlitzer in 1972 at the age of
12.  My father became a member
of the DTOC (Detroit Theatre
Organ Club) so we could attend
concerts, and play the organ.  In
those years, the concerts were
usually filled to the capacity of the
theatre, 900 seats.  We would
arrive early so I could get a seat
in the front row, so I could intently
watch every move the artist would
make, and learn from them.  The
roster of players read like a who's
who of the theatre organ world.  
The "Club" attracted the best
players from around the world.

As a "playing member" we were
allowed to practice on the organ 2
hours per month.  We would call
and make a reservation, and we
had our own "key card" that would
let us into the theatre.  As you can
imagine, it was quite a thrill (and
still is) to play this magnificent
instrument.  The installation of the
pipes right behind the organ, on
stage level, makes for an
awesome sonic experience for the
player as well as the audience.

The "Fisher" Wurlitzer was famous
for it's unique design and sound,
and it's impeccable condition.  It
was about as perfect as a pipe
organ could get, and maintained
and tuned to very high
standards.  I began to fully
appreciate how well this organ
was cared for when in later years I
would travel and play concerts on
other organs in other States and
countries.  Then I began to
understand what a wonderful
organ we had, right in my own
home town.

When I was 14 years old (1974) I
was invited to play at a members
concert with Mary Harrison, Amy
Reimer and Dave Brewer.  In the
years that followed, I was
fortunate to be asked to play
many concerts on this wonderful
instrument, as well as make
several recordings on it.

Thanks to the vision and
generosity of George Orbits, the
"organ buff" who bought the
organ from the Fisher Brothers,
and has helped move it twice!  If it
wasn't for George, we would have
not had this truly magnificent
instrument or the organ club.

In December of 2009 I played the
Christmas concert at the Senate,
the last scheduled program at that
theatre.  The organ club is looking
for a new home for the organ that
will be less draining on the
finances of the Society.  So, a
new chapter begins in the life of
this very special Wurlitzer Theatre
Pipe Organ.  To learn more, go to
their web site:  
www.DTOS.org
1974 Members Concert
2009 Christmas Concert