Largest pipe/digital organ…


The Castro Symphonic Theatre Organ will be a magnificent 400-rank theatre/classical hybrid with a full piano-length keyboard and a comprehensive orchestral sound library. Seven manuals will make it the largest (fully working) console in the world. 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.

An all-pipe organ of this magnitude would cost many millions of dollars and would be physically impossible to install in this theatre. Fortunately, cutting-edge digital sampling technology now allows us to greatly enlarge the resources of the instrument and dynamically distribute the sound throughout the auditorium, providing a thrilling surround-sound musical experience in an acoustically reverberatory environment appropriate to whatever style of music is being played.

We are expanding the theatrical sound of the instrument to 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.

In addition, this new organ will be capable of providing the virtual sounds of the symphony orchestra. With the orchestral sample library from Audio Impressions, 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 (previously responsible for two major organ installations in San Francisco, one in Los Angeles, and a huge six-manual organ in Hurricane, West Virginia), brought his expertise to this project, together with Castro organist David Hegarty, with whom he worked closely in the past. Harrah collaborated with R.A. Colby Organbuilders, who have provided the new console, and Walker Technical Company, who are providing the digitally sampled organ voices and the audio system.