AES Section Meeting Reports

Atlanta - June 23, 2009

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The Atlanta Section of the AES held a meeting and tour on Monday June 22nd, 2009 at Atlanta's "Fabulous" Fox Theater. The purpose of the event was to tour the Fox Theater's Moller Pipe Organ, known as the "Mighty Mo", which was originally installed in 1929.

A brief business meeting was held in the theater prior to the tour and Atlanta Section Chair Selah Abrams welcomed all members and guests and discussed the many upcoming events being planned by the Atlanta Section. Also on hand was the Chairman of the Atlanta SBE chapter who mentioned upcoming SBE events that would be of interest to AES members along with continuing collaboration on joint events with the AES, SBE and SMPTE chapters.

The speaker and tour guide was retired Fox Theater Technical Director, Joe Patten. Mr. Patten joined the Fox in 1963 and immediately began the work of restoring the "Mighty Mo" to its original working condition. To this day, he continues to maintain and update the organ, which is used regularly for special events at the theater.

He explained that the organ has 3622 pipes distributed among five chambers on both sides of the stage. He pointed out that the designers of the system were "ahead of their time" in 1929 in that the pipes are arranged to provide a stereophonic experience for the audience. It has 43 ranks, 4 manuals and 346 stops. It is capable of reproducing the sound of most orchestral instruments and includes a number of actual instruments in the chambers such as a marimba, glockenspiel and xylophone. Mr. Patton also devised an electro pneumatic system which allows the playing of the theater's grand piano remotely from the organ keyboard. The wind required to power the system is generated by a 75 horsepower electric motor located below the stage. The largest pipe reaches 32ft tall and is capable of producing a frequency of 32hz.

There were 28 guests in attendance of which 15 were AES members. Several members brought family and children to the event as an opportunity to learn about the history of the Fox.

A special thank you goes to Joe Patten for taking the time to conduct the tour, to Steve McCormick, of Comprehensive Technical Group, for sponsoring the event, and to Section Committee Member, Ed Welly, for making the arrangements.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society