BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH - JACK MOELMANN
Jack Moelmann was born at a very early age and is originally from Oak Park, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, in 1965. He retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel in April 1991 after serving in the Communications & Electronics field on active duty for 26 years. His last assignment was at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, (not far from St. Louis) near which he currently lives in the town of O'Fallon, Illinois.
In addition to Jack's Air Force career, he also had a career in music and in particular the organ. Jack formally started in music (with the piano and soloist in the church choir) at age 8, and has pursued this avocation ever since. He began formal piano lessons at age 8. At age 10-1/2, his father received a phone call from the piano teacher, Mrs. Ruth Wilkins, saying that he was wasting his money and she was wasting her time. Bottom line, he was “FIRED” by his piano teacher as a lost cause and hasn’t taken any lessons since. Wonder what her other students developed into.
He has never had any formal organ lessons but learned the instrument as well as many aspects of the theory of music by observing and listening to some of the greats and taking some music theory classes in college. Rest assured he doesn’t play by ear, he read music perfectly and memorizes effectively. His main musical interests are classical, theatre, and popular stylings on both the organ and the piano. Jack has been a member of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) since 1967, served on their Board of Directors in one capacity or another for some 30 years during the period 1983 to 2015, chaired or was a member of many committees, and was the President of ATOS from 1985 until 1988. He also served as the ATOS Secretary 1993-2006. He is also very active and served as the Executive Director and Secretary of the Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI). He was elected as the ATOS Honorary Lifetime Member in May 1994 and inducted into the ATOS Hall of Fame in July 2008. In August 2008, he was inducted into the TOSI Hall of Fame. In 2018, Jack was awarded the ATOS “Organist of the Year”.
During high school and college, he was always in demand to perform on the organ and/or piano at social functions, as well as concerts in local churches, auditoriums, and theatres. In 1960, he went on a family tour of Europe during which time he was able to play at such famed places as Westminster Abbey in London, England and the Pantheon in Rome, Italy and the recently burned and high publicized Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Jack performed in concert at the Chapel of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 1972.
He has performed and given concerts in most of the famous movie palaces and auditoriums across the country. Some of these include the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York, the Carnegie Hall Cinema Theatre in New York, the Rahway Theatre in Rahway, New Jersey, the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama, the Temple Theatre, Meridian, Mississippi, played several organ concerts in the restored Saenger Theatre in Biloxi, Mississippi, re-opened the Saenger Theatre with its restored theatre pipe organ in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and played to capacity crowds in the War Memorial Auditorium in Trenton, New Jersey, on their mighty Moller Theatre Pipe Organ. From 1972-1973, he was the head organist at the Shakey's Pizza Parlour in Anaheim, California, playing their Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ. Other places include the Rialto Theatre in Joliet, Illinois, and the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. He has been featured on the TV programs "CBS Evening News" with Walter Cronkite and "Good Morning America", St. Louis television news programs, as well as many other television and radio programs in support of the American Theatre Organ Society, the theatre organ, and its music.
Three of Jack’s biggest theatre organ shows were when he rented, at his own expense, the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City in August of 2008 at a cost in excess of $118,000 just for the rent of the theatre. He put on perhaps the most widely publicized organ program in history. He did a sequel to that show when he rented the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis in August of 2015 for some $40,000 in which the three hour show attracted an audience of some 2,000 people. He did it one other time in August of 2017 with the renting once again of the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis. He has formally served as staff organist at the St. Louis Fox Theatre since 2009 in addition to performing on other occasions at the Fox since 1986 when he first moved to the St. Louis area with the Air Force. He also serves as Staff Organist at the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Belleville, Illinois, and if that weren’t enough, he has served as the volunteer organist at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in O’Fallon, Illinois, since 2001.
He was the founder of the River City Theatre Organ Society, an ATOS Chapter in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1984 and performed in eight extremely successful concerts on the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ in Omaha's Orpheum Theatre. He has appeared with Bob Ralston of Lawrence Welk fame in Omaha, Chicago, and Meridian, Mississippi, and performed on the mammoth Kimball Concert Organ in the St. Louis Scottish Rite. He has also performed at the famed Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, the Redford Theatre and Senate Theater in Detroit, and played at the Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, Illinois, in May 1988 and September 1992. In May 1991, he rededicated the Grand Barton Theatre Pipe Organ (originally from the Orpheum Theatre) in the Springfield, Illinois, High School to a capacity crowd after it had been rebuilt and improved. In October 1992, he made his second appearance playing with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra on the Omaha Orpheum Theatre's Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ during their Halloween Pops Concert Series, his first appearance being during the Christmas Concert Series in 1988. In November 1992, he had the honor of doing the first concerts for the official unveiling of the American Theatre Organ Society Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed in the Towe Ford Museum in Sacramento, California. In December 1992, 1993, and 1994, he performed Christmas Concerts at the famed Rialto Theatre in Joliet, Illinois on their Grande Barton organ. He has also been a favorite at many organ clubs wherever he has been stationed with the Air Force and since. He has made many appearances in Phoenix, Arizona, for their organ clubs and Organ Stop Pizza restaurant. These are just a few of the many places that he has performed in the past years.
Jack has combined his musical interest and electrical engineering background to put together an elaborate theatre organ instrument (both electronic and pipe) in his home in O'Fallon, Illinois. He consistently shares his organ and talent with many groups around the St. Louis area and beyond.
You will find Jack at most of the American Theatre Organ Society Annual and Regional Conventions not only as an attendee but on several occasions he served as the Master of Ceremonies or as an artist at the various Jam Sessions. He is an Honorary Lifetime member of the River City (Omaha, Nebraska) ATOS Chapter and in 2015 he was named Honorary Member of the Chicagoland Theatre Organ Society. He has held ATOS Chapter affiliations with the Connecticut Valley, Los Angeles, New York, Garden State Chapter (New Jersey), Alabama Chapter, and Charter member of the Magnolia Chapter (Meridian, Mississippi), River City Chapter (Omaha, Nebraska), Central Illinois Chapter, and Kansas City Chapter. He served as President of the Garden State Chapter in New Jersey from 1982-1983. He has been listed in Who's Who, the Dictionary of International Biography, and Notable Americans.
With the many things he has done over the years, Jack has decided to “kick back” and relax for a while which means he will continue doing what he does at the Fox and Lincoln Theatres, however the concert he will be doing at the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville on Sunday, August 25, 2019, will be his LAST public concert and will be in the form of a sequel to those highly successful programs he did at Radio City Music Hall and the two (2015 and 2017) highly attended concerts at the St. Louis Fabulous Fox Theatre.