TOSA LogoTOSA Logo Theatre Organ Society of Australia
(Victorian Division) Inc


Who We Are

The Victorian Division of The Theatre Organ Society of Australia (TOSA), was formed in September 1960, not long after the formation of the New South Wales (NSW) Division. In 1963, the Style 260 3/15 Wurlitzer pipe organ - Opus 637 at the Capitol Theatre Melbourne was purchased, and installed in the Dendy Theatre Brighton, opening in 1967.

This Division of TOSA removed the Style 270 4/21 Wurlitzer - Opus 1987 from the State Theatre Melbourne and installed it in the Moorabbin Town Hall (now Kingston City Hall) for the City of Moorabbin (now Kingston City Council). Members of this division have an ongoing commitment to maintain this instrument. This organ has undergone a complete rebuild, re-opening for the Easter Convention in March 2005. 3 new ranks have be added in 2016(Krumet, Solo String Celeste and Oboe Horn in the Solo Chamber) to bring it to a 4/24, and a new Tibia is to be installed in the main chamber at a later date to eventually make it a 4/25.

Two further organs are owned by this division. They are the 3/17 Compton at the Malvern Town Hall, and the newly completed 2/9 Christie Blackett and Howden installation at the Coburg Town Hall.

Monthly Club nights featuring a guest artist are scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month and Concerts with a visiting artist are held during the year, from February to November at one of the four venues - Malvern Town Hall, Dendy Theatre Brighton, Kingston City Hall (Moorabbin) or CoburgTown Hall.

Tickets for Concerts are available at the door, or through TryBooking - see the main page for details - refer to 'Whats on' for information on Concert dates and locations.


  1. To preserve, restore, maintain, and present the Theatre Pipe Organ to the public.
  2. To actively seek to install Theatre Pipe Organ Instruments in venues and to enter into appropriate formal/legal agreements with the owners of such venues that will allow:
  3. (a)  the regular public presentation of the instruments through the medium of concerts and musical programmes;

    (b)  professional and amateur organists, members and friends of the Association, music teachers and students, and other authorised users regular access to the instruments for practice, pleasure, and presentation;

    (c)  regular access for maintenance, tuning, and ongoing restoration of the instruments;

    (d)  access for recording purposes as required.

  4. To actively promote the Theatre Pipe Organ including its tradition: as a means of entertainment; as a versatile musical instrument in its own right; as a viable medium of musical expression within our musical culture; by dissemination of information concerning the instrument and its versatility.
  5. To provide social opportunities for members and friends of the Association to promote and encourage interest in this form of music.

Benefits of being a member

The Committee

President: - Scott Harrison

Vice President: - Nick Lang

Secretary: - Max Raynor

Treasurer: - TBA

Committee: - Mark Arnold, John Sutcliffe, Margaret Sutcliffe, Dianne Arnett, Gregory Reum, Eric Reed and Paul White .

Membership Secretary
Paul White
Phone: 03 9523 5415
Email: Membership Secretary

General Enquiries
Margaret Sutcliffe
Phone: 03 9891 7227
Email: General Enquiries

Organ Maintenance Supervisors
Brighton - Nick Lang
Coburg - Glenn Maus
Malvern - John McLennan
Moorabbin - Scott Harrison

Web Master
Neil Hunter Contact the Webmaster

Organ Practice Supervisors
Moorabbin - Darren Whittingham
Tel: 9556 4480

Dendy - Ivan Dinsdale
Tel: 9557 3697

All accounts to be sent to:
The Treasurer
TOSA (Vic) P O Box 5013

Our Address

This address is for all correspondence EXCEPT contributions to the VOX

The Secretary
TOSA (Vic)
PO Box 5013

Contributions to VOX
Donald Binks
Phone: 03 5340 2359
Email: The Vox Editor

Concert Enquiries
Margaret Sutcliffe
Phone: 03 9891 7227
Email: Concert Enquiries

eVox contact
Margaret Sutcliffe
Phone: 03 9891 7227
Email: eVox contact


Other Societies

Warragul Theatre Organ Society (3/10 Wurlitzer)

Theatre Organ Society of Australia (ACT Division)

Theatre Organ Society of Australia (South Australian Division)

Theatre Organ Society of Australia (Gold Coast Division)

Theatre Organ Society of Australia (New South Wales Division)

Theatre Organ Society of Australia (Queensland Division)

Theatre Organ Society of Australia (Western Australian Division)

Cinema and Theatre Historical Society

Theatre Organs Home Page

American Theatre Organ Society

Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust

North East Theatre Organ Association (England)

Puget Sound (Washington/Oregon USA) Theatre Organ Society

Scottish Theatre Organs Preservation Society

Theatre Organ Players and Fans Forum

Het Orgel - Royal Dutch Organists Association

Society of Organists (Victoria)

Wurlitzer Organ Trust of Auckand


What is a Theatre Pipe Organ

In the infancy of "Motion Pictures", and by this I mean Silent Movies, the movie part of a program was only part of a much larger show, which included acts such as singing and dancing. What did singing and dancing acts,and Silent movies require??? MUSIC!!! To provide this music, theatres would employ a pianist, a group of musicians, or in the largest and most opulent theatres, a complete orchestra to provide live music.

The cost of supplying the live music was not lost on the Theatre owners of the day who searched for something which could supply all the music they needed, but at a far lesser cost, and with something which was quite different as well. Organs were transplanted into theatres, but as they were in essence church organs, were ill suited to the type of music required of the day.

The organ seemed the answer to the cost problem, but had it not been for a brilliant Englishman named Robert Hope-Jones, this idea may have fallen by the wayside. Hope-Jones developed many innovative ideas which would transform an ordinary church organ into something approaching a full orchestra, and able to be played by only one person. Although these ideas fell on deaf ears in his native England, it was not until his arrival in the USA, and through his association with Rudolph Wurlitzer of North Tonawanda, New York, were his ideas accepted. The product of this association was called the "Wurlitzer-Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra".

Hope-Jones developed a system of electro-pneumatic operation of the organ, meaning the console could be placed anywhere, and with the use of "Unification" to allow the ranks of pipes to be extended and be available at different pitch levels on different manuals. With the addition of new kinds of pipes for new sounds and an array of real musical instruments - xylophone, drums, cymbals, bells, castanets etc being able to be played from the keyboard, Hope-Jones developed the now well known "Horseshoe console" with small tongue shaped tabs to select the various voices, which made playing the instrument much easier than the ordinary church organ which used large draw knobs, usually either side of the keyboards to do the same task.

The one thing which really sets the Theatre Organ apart from the church organ, apart from all the new voices and sounds, is the use of tremulants which had been dramatically changed and refined, and were used in entirely new ways. These broader and smoother tremulants give the Theatre organ its characteristic sound. Very simply, turn the tremulants on and you have the sound of the Theatre Organ - turn the tremulants off, and you have a very sophisticated church organ.

Unfortunately, Robert Hope-Jones had some major disagreements with the Wurlitzer management, which saw him take his own life in 1914, but not before profoundly influencing the development of the theatre organ. The Wurlitzer company flourished, and became the largest manufacturer of Theatre Pipe Organs in the world. The name Wurlitzer became synonymous with the theatre organ, but they were not the only manufacturers of these mighty instruments. Other manufacturers (to mention a few) were the Bartola Musical Instrument Company (maker of the Barton organ), W. Kimball Company and the Robert Morton Company in the USA, and the Christie (Hill, Norman and Beard), and Compton firms in Great Britain. Additionally, Standaart in the Netherlands, also manufactured Theatre Organs in limited numbers.

With thanks to David C. Kelzenberg

For more info and links about Theatre Organs, courtesy of Theatre Seat Store


Updated 11 December 2018
Information supplied by Neil C. Hunter and The Theatre Organ Society of Australia (Victorian Division) Inc

Contact the Webmaster Neil C. Hunter

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