By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — The Oklahoma History Center will present the first Kilgen Theater Organ performance of the 2019 season entitled “Out of the Box” on Monday, February 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Devon Great Hall. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
The featured organist will be Nathan Avakian of New York City, accompanied vocally by his sister, Claire. Individual tickets are $10 for Oklahoma Historical Society members and $20 for nonmembers. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 405-522-0765.
Nathan will use a selection of modern silent shorts from the International Youth Silent Film Festival, and also will present modern solo organ numbers from his contemporary repertoire. Incorporating additional technology, Nathan will play grand piano accompaniment while the digitally equipped Kilgen plays in the background.
The evening will offer selections and methods of presentation that are not usually associated with a theater organ program.
Nathan has gained notoriety using his approach of mixing modern technology and contemporary musical tastes while still managing to maintain the historical sound of the theatre organ.
“It’s so important for technicians, organists and enthusiasts to get rid of the stereotypes and feeling like your obligated to do what is expected of the instrument. Nathan stated. “Break the mold and do what you love.”
According to a press release, in response to this format, audience members commented, “Brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw this. It’s breathtaking to see the instrument that we love given new life when infused with today’s technology in such a disciplined and tasteful way.” Another listener said, “It was great to hear such a highly professional modern take on what a theater organ concert can be. I love the traditional, but also enjoyed the new.”
Nathan lives in New York City where he runs his own lighting design business. He served as Youth Representative for the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) from 2011 to 2013, after having won the 2009 ATOS Young Organist Competition. He has played successful concert tours across the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The Oklahoma Historical Society mission is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma.
Located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma History Center is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit okhistory.org.