Organist to open for Rockford Symphony Orchestra

The Grand Barton Organ is original to the Coronado Theatre from 1927.
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Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 4:49 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A local organist is set to perform on the Coronado Theatre’s historic Grand Barton Theatre Organ, Saturday.

Andrew Mertzenich is with the Land of Lincoln Theatre Organ Society. He learned to play piano from his grandmother when he was six years old. As he grew up, he said he always knew he loved the organ.

“I went to college and applied for a music scholarship,” said Mertzenich. “I just happened to mention in the interview, because I play the piano, I’m interested in studying the organ. I love the sound.”

The school ended up paying for all of his organ lessons through his four years of college. Once he had it down, he started playing at churches.

One day, he accidentally stumbled upon the Land of Lincoln Theatre Organ Society’s annual meeting. The group invited him to try it out.

“It was love at first touch,” he said.

This weekend, Mertzenich will perform on the Coronado Theatre’s Grand Barton Organ, before the Rockford Symphony Orchestra goes on.

The Grand Barton Organ is original to the Coronado Theatre. According to Mertzenich, it took five boxcars to move the instrument from Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Rockford. The organ was ready to go on opening day of the theatre in October of 1927.

The concert is Saturday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. When the organ recital finishes, there is a 30-minute intermission before the orchestra takes the stage to perform “Americana.”

To buy tickets, visit the Rockford Symphony Orchestra website.