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SF's Castro Theatre Losing Piece Of History To Build World's Largest Digital Organ

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Castro Theatre, San Francisco's famed historic movie palace, is well-known for screening movie classics and festival favorites to the backdrop of a stunning Baroque facade.

But locals who frequent the theatre know it's the organ music that often steals the show.

Now some changes are ahead for the Wurlitzer organ that's called the theatre home for the last 30 years. Keeping in the tradition of providing organ music to show-goers since 1922, the nonprofit Castro Organ Devotees Association has designed a brand new instrument for the 21st century.

The current owner plans to sell the current Wurlitzer. Taking its place is a digital organ with seven keyboards and over 800 stops -- likely to be the largest console of its kind in the world.

The current Wurlitzer organ. (Photo courtesy of CODA)

"This will not merely include some after-market General MIDI modules with 'a few nice strings'—it will be the most expressive, gigabyte-heavy, instantaneous-response-time live performance orchestra in existence, with its own custom-designed independent sound system," according to a statement on CODA's website.

Acclaimed digital organ builder Allen Harrah is designing the console pro bono. What would have cost million of dollars for a full pipe organ this size now comes with the modest price tag of $700,000.

The group is raising funds for the completion of the organ through the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. So far, they've raised nearly $16,000 of the $40,000 needed.


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