November 3, 2019 - John Ledwon Concert
On Sunday, November 3, 2019 at 2:30 PM, the Rochester Theater Organ Society present John Ledwon in a concert program.
A native of Southern California, John Ledwon first met the theatre organ when he was 11. Recognizing his extraordinary talent, His parents obtained a Hammond B3 for him, and he has been studying, performing and restoring theatre organs ever since. At 14, John started playing weddings at a Southern California Wedding Chapel, eventually playing more than 20,000 weddings there. At age 16 he became the organist for the Al Malaikah Shrine Auditorium playing their 4/71 Moller concert/theatre organ. At the same venue he was organist for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular for two seasons. John was also a regular on the Mike Douglas Television Show for 26 weeks.
John majored in organ and theatre arts at UCLA., graduating at 20. While in college he traveled extensively throughout America and Europe as a concert artist. After enrolling in graduate school at UCLA he was invited to do a 4-month USO tour of Alaska and Asia. For 3 years he had his own weekly radio show, playing on the 4 manual 61 rank Robert Morton Theatre/Concert organ in the old Elks Temple in LA. Taking a 20-year hiatus from the concert circuit to pursue his teaching high school career he also served both as president of ATOS and several terms on the board of directors of the society. John also taught theatre organ at the college level using the Wurlitzer installed in Pasadena City College.
John lost his first dream instrument when his home in the Santa Monica Mountains was destroyed by a brush fire. He re-built, enlarged and re-installed his personally designed 4/52 Wurlitzer theatre organ, ultimately releasing 3 cassettes and 6 CD’s recorded on it. Several Hollywood studios used his instrument often to augment motion picture sound tracks. It was during this period that John would demonstrate the instrument for his high school’s classes. As a Theatre Arts teacher several times a year large cast parties would be held at his home where the students would attentively listen to him playing themes from motion pictures and musical theatre. It was during this time that he began to understand the musical tastes of the teen-ager and younger adult in relation to listening to music on an instrument that wasn't mainstream. A subsequent move in 2007 caused John to donate the instrument to the famous Nethercutt Collection in a Los Angeles suburb. Unfortunately, they never used the instrument and sold it in 2010.
In 2000 John left teaching to become, and has remained for over 20 years, a staff organist at the Walt Disney Company’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. The position and experience garnered there has enabled him to perform and tailor his own arrangements of Disney music to younger audiences.
He now lives in Henderson, Nevada, where he has installed a 3 manual 15 rank Wurlitzer while maintaining a concert schedule including his position at the El Capitan plus regular touring which include performances in New York City, Chicago, Syracuse, Rochester, Kansas City, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Spokane, Tulsa, Binghamton. He has also performed in Sydney, Auckland, Perth, Adelaide, London, Zurich, Interlocken and Hamburg.
Between performances, practicing, and assisting Theatre Organ groups around the country, John continues to lead an extremely active life being home probably only half the time, much to the distress of his feline friends, Aida and Athena. He remains dedicated to introducing the theatre organ to younger audiences and pairing the music performed to their era though the use of contemporary theatrical techniques and musical selections using bright, brassy vibrant arrangements.