The early roots of the St. Louis Theatre Organ Society (SLTOS) began in February 1962. In the early conception of this not-for-profit organization, it encountered many organizational changes. The SLTOS is a charter member of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS). SLTOS exists to preserve the theatre organ and the art of organ building.
The theatre pipe organ was developed in the early 1920s. The purpose of this instrument was to accompany silent films. Some of the differences between a theatre pipe organ and a church organ are the way the instrument sounds and how it is played. The theatre organ has very heavy tremulant that causes a distinct vibrato sound. The theatre organ also has tuned percussion you would normally hear in an orchestra such as xylophones, drums, cymbals, and bells. Theatre organs were developed to replace the accompanying orchestra of silent films. One person could imitate the sounds of an entire orchestra sitting at the organ console.
Today, some of our members provide detailed and specialized maintenance on several installed organs. One example is the St. Louis Fox Theatre Wurlitzer. This instrument is unadulterated from its original installation in 1928. There are literally thousands of electrical connections, moving parts, and pipes that require meticulous attention to keep in it performance condition.
SLTOS is home to two club owned organs. The theatre pipe organ that is located in the St. Louis City Museum and the lobby organ at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. For more information about these two instruments please click the instruments tab.
This organization is a diverse mix of people from many backgrounds. We have members that range from musical enthusiasts that cannot play a note, to world class performance artists. The governing board of directors is made up of non-paid volunteers who are passionate about the mission of SLTOS.
SLTOS has continuously partnered and maintained positive working relationships with local organizations to keep our mission alive. We continue to work with the St. Louis Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis Scottish Rite, St. Louis Third Baptist Church, St. Louis City Museum, Lincoln Theatre in Belleville, IL, and many other local organizations.