The Berkeley Community Theatre

The theatre has 3,500 seats and is the home of the NorCal 4/41 Wurlitzer pipe organ. The stage is fully equipped and the projection booth has two variable speed arc light projectors which can show both silent and sound films at the correct speed. It also is equipped with two Strong Super Trooper arc follow spots.  After the Loma Prieta earthquake, it was the first theatre in the Bay area to be authorized to open.  The organ chambers are above the proscenium arch. The floor of the chambers is about 55' above the stage floor.  The chambers speak through a tone chute and a metal grill. Unenclosed in the tone chute are the chimes, the marimba/harp, the chrysoglot/vibra-harp, a 25 note set of tuned saucer bells, the master xylophone, tuned sleigh bells, a 40" bass drum, a military field drum (a large snare drum), a tap cymbal, a hi-hat cymbal and a fire bell. Just below the tone chute and under the chambers are the house public address speakers. Located at this level are the 8' and 16' Tibia Plenas, the piano, an ah-ooh-gah horn and an air raid siren. 


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The Center Theatre Console

The Center Theatre was a separate theatre which was built as part of the Radio City complex in New York. The Wurlitzer organ in it was Opus 2178. The console is almost the same as the one in the Radio City Music Hall. The top stop rail was not filled out and the console had a wood finish instead of being Steinway black. During refinishing it was found that the walnut finish was not natural.  The veneer is actually rosewood which was finished to look like walnut. The rosewood finish has been restored. The console has 364 stop tabs and the tab action is pneumatic. The refurbished console was premiered at the Berkeley Community Theatre on October 29, 2000 by Jonas Nordwall. Click on the picture for a whole page of pictures. 


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The Toledo Paramount Console

he Toledo Paramount Wurlitzer organ, style Publix I, opus 2006, was the basis for the organ at Berkeley.  This is the Toledo console which has been re-specified to control 33 ranks of pipes.  The stop rails have been filled out and there are pull-outs on both sides of the console. The stop tab actions are still pneumatically controlled.


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The Solo Chamber

 There are currently 18 ranks of pipes situated on three manual chests in the Solo.  The 16' offsets in the Solo are the Solo Tibia, Solo String, Oboe Horn, Diaphonic Horn (Horn Diapason, metal) and Post Horn. 


Solo Chest 3, the 16' Post Horn (and Kevin King). 

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The Main Chamber

 There are currently 16 ranks of pipes situated on three manual chests in the Main. The 16' offsets in the Main are the Main Tibia, Gross Gamba, Tuba Profunda (Tuba Horn), and Clarinet. 


Main Chest 1. 

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The Perfound (center) Chamber

There are currently 7 ranks of pipes situated on two three-rank and one one-rank manual chest in the Perfound.  There is a percussion tower in one part of the chamber, next to the shades, with the Toy Counter on top, the Glockenspiel below that, and a 49 note Xylophone below that.  There are also a large Chinese Gong (see pictures), a Malaysian Cymbal, a Ship's Bell, a Surf machine, and a Sand Block machine on the tower.  Also in the chamber are the 16' offsets for the Bombard (Tuba Mirabilis), Wood Diaphone, Tuba Diaphone (large metal diaphone used as an extension to the Open Diapason) and the Bourdon.  The 8' and 16' Tibia Plena are unenclosed and located one level below the chambers.  The 32' Wood Diaphone is unenclosed and located on the back wall of the stage house.  The Tibia Plena is on the one-rank chest.  The other manual ranks located in the Perfound are Musette, Lieblich Flute, Cor Anglais, Viola Diapason (to 16'), French Horn, and Trombe (to 16').  The Viola Diapason and Trombe 16' offsets are not yet installed. 


Perfound both 3 rank chests.

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The 32' Wood Diaphones

These are located on the back wall of the stage house.  The platform on which they are mounted is actually a wide walkway which runs around the sides and back of the stage house about 35' above the stage floor. Although these are the smallest scale Wurlitzer built they are very successful.  All the walls and the ceiling of the stage house are concrete and the stage house acts like a bass reflex speaker enclosure speaking into the house. The unique feature of these pipes is that there are six pipes for twelve notes. If you look at the top of each pipe, you will notice a trap door at the top of the pipe.  This is activated, via a steel cable, by a large pneumatic mounted on the pipe about 8' off the floor. With the door closed you get one note, with it open you get the note a half step up.  Because we are so far from the main wind lines and would have had to pierce a fire wall, we installed a separate blower and two regulators next to the pipes.  One regulator is for the pipes and the other is for the pneumatics which run the trap doors.  The resonator of the low C/C# pipe weighs about 800 pounds.


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Swell Shutters

Originally we installed the 8' Swell Shade sets as normal.  After the entire organ was installed and playing we found that it sounded muffled.  After several years it was decided to completely redesign the swell shutters.  The new design has the shutters mounted horizontally instead of vertically.  We also ran the shutters all the way to the floor of the chamber.  The redesign increased the swell opening by more than 70 percent.  It also aimed the sound down toward the grill instead of toward the side walls of the tone chute. The Main and Solo sets look the same. The Perfound (center) chamber is wider.  The one for the Perfound has an addition section in the center which is about 5' long.  When you go the the pictures of the shades you can see the swell motors at each end mounted vertically. The original shutters were all 5' high. The assemblies in the Main and Solo were 16' wide each and the Perfound was 21' wide. The widths of the new assemblies are the same, but they are now 10' high.  There originally were 77 5' blades, now there are 90 8' blades plus 15 5' blades.  The blades also open further in the new assemblies. We also added actions so that the larger blades are no longer coupled in pairs.


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The arrival of the organ and a couple of miscellaneous pictures.


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