Background, videos, biographies of guest organists
Shortly after beginning piano instruction at the age of four, Jelani began studying classical piano under the direction of his grandmother. At the age of eight, a trip to hear the 4-manual 42-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ installed in the Indianapolis, Indiana restaurant, the Paramount Music Palace, introduced Jelani to the sounds of the theatre pipe organ. Soon thereafter, he began to pursue classical organ lessons and ultimately began studying theatre organ under the direction of John Ferguson, whose skills as a theatre organ instructor have been highly acclaimed internationally.
In the spring of 1988 at the age of 13, Jelani won the American Theatre Organ Society’s Young Theatre Organist Competition, prevailing over competitors ages 13-21 from the United States, England, Australia, and New Zealand. Jelani remains the youngest competitor ever to win this title. Jelani went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Indiana University in 1996, and later received a Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School in 1999, after which time he was admitted to practice law in New York State.
During the course of his concert career, Jelani has been featured at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society, and has toured extensively throughout the world, including numerous concert appearances in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Holland, France, and Germany. Jelani has also distinguished himself as a recording artist and has produced numerous theatre organ albums on some of the best-known and most dynamic instruments in the country.
In August 2001, the American Theatre Organ Society honored Jelani’s extensive career as a concert and recording organist by naming him the 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year. Having received the award at the age of 27, Jelani retains the distinction of being the youngest-ever recipient of this prestigious honor.
Seminar: Friday, July 21, 2006 10:00AM at the Mt. St. Francis Auditorium. The theme was Registration and Phrasing. Morning and afternoon sessions included voluntary student playing time on the 3/20 Wurlitzer.
Concert and Picnic: Saturday July 22, 2006 3:00PM at Joel’s Organ Barn in Kiowa, CO.
As of 2005, Ron Rhode is beginning his 31st year as one of the most popular theatre organists. His recordings have received a top rating of 10 out of 10 from CD Review Magazine, and he was awarded "Theatre Organist Of The Year - 1989" by the American Theatre Organ Society. He has played virtually every major theatre organ installation in the world.
Ron is a native of Illinois, where he began his musical career on the piano. He quickly advanced to classical pipe organ, and in 1968 held his first theatre organ job playing for roller skating. In 1973 Ron moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to start a long association with the Organ Stop Pizza restaurants. In 1975 Ron moved to Mesa, Arizona, where he held the Featured Organist post and played for pizza patrons until November, 1986. In July, 1988, Ron again joined the staff as Associate Organist until his retirement in 2000. In Phoenix, he has been the Featured Organist for the Orpheum Theatre Silent Sunday Series, a silent movie series, since its inception in May, 1999.
Since leaving the pizza parlor on a regular basis, Ron has completed a Bachelor of Education degree in Early Childhood Education at Arizona State University, and in 1995 he earned a Master of Elementary Education degree from Northern Arizona State University. He is currently a Media Specialist at Roosevelt Elementary in Mesa, Arizona. In addition to teaching, recording, and concertizing, Ron is the organist for the Church of the Beatitudes, U.C.C., in Phoenix, Arizona.
Although Ron is held to the classroom through the week, he still finds time to maintain an active concert and recording career. He continues to perform professionally across the United States, Canada, England, and Australia. He is a favorite at American Theatre Organ Society national and regional conventions. He has more than twenty recordings to his credit.
PPATOS Event: on Saturday June 17, 2006, Ron performed at Joel’s Organ Barn in Kiowa, CO.