David Dahl, Professor Emeritus of Organ at Pacific Lutheran University and member of the Tacoma AGO chapter, is justifiably proud of Tedde Gibson. Gibson is a native of Tacoma and, as he says, he “cut his organ teeth” playing theater organ at Pizza and Pipes, a University Place restaurant with a Wurlitzer organ. He also studied improvisation techniques with several local organists, including David Dahl and Mel Butler, and incorporated those classical techniques into his own style.
On Monday, October 21, members of the Tacoma AGO chapter made their way to the Paramount Theater in Seattle to hear Tedde Gibson accompany “Within Our Gates,” a silent film that portrayed the racial situation in the United States in the early twentieth century.
Gibson played for 90 minutes, watching the film and improvising, as David Dahl put it, a “symphonic tone poem” that reflected and complimented the action on the screen, ranging from contemplative to whimsical.
What an honor to hear and see Tedde Gibson at work last night in this 1920 silent movie! We are so fortunate to yet have a theatre organ in a public space to witness surviving silent films. –Sandra Tietjen, Tacoma AGO board member
Following the performance, the audience was deeply appreciative, including our own members. “It was an unexpectedly intense and illuminating experience at the Paramount. It was a great way to hear a Wurlitzer as I’ve never experienced one before,” Mark Brombaugh later wrote in a comment that was echoed by other members. AGO board member Satya Jaech added, “Last night’s AGO program exceeded all my expectations. My stereotypes of theater organs and silent films were shattered, and in its place I now have profound respect and appreciation.”