Hazel Wright Organ Documentary

‘Hazel is Back: Restoring an Icon’ – A new documentary from the Diocese of Orange

In celebration of the completed restoration of the Hazel Wright Organ, the Diocese of Orange has produced a new full-length documentary.

The film, titled “Hazel is Back: Restoring an Icon,” delves into the unique saga of the iconic instrument, from its roots as an idea during the early days of the Rev. Robert Schuller’s ministry to its construction into the Crystal Cathedral and restoration effort by the Catholic Church. Filming began in late 2021 and continued throughout 2022.

Nearly a dozen people involved with Hazel’s restoration and 40-year history were interviewed, including Bishop Kevin Vann, who prioritized her restoration for the Diocese; Dr. Frederick Swann, a former Crystal Cathedral organist whose playing and recordings made Hazel a worldwide icon; Gabriel Ferrucci, a Diocese benefactor who helped guide the restoration process to completion; Piero Ruffatti, whose company built much of the original organ and restored it; and Dr. David Crean, author of a new book on Hazel’s history.

“I think what surprised me most when making this film is how many stories there are about this pipe organ beyond just the music itself,” said Bradley Zint, the Diocese’s assistant director of communications who wrote and directed “Hazel is Back.” “The story of the Hazel Wright Organ is one of surprisingly humble beginnings, with big dreams, larger-than-life personalities, a mysterious benefactor, glory, decline and revival — you name it.”

In conjunction with the cathedral’s music ministry and The Orange Catholic Foundation, “Hazel is Back: Restoring an Icon” will be screened in the Christ Cathedral campus’ Arboretum at 5 p.m. Sept. 30, before the Dedication Concert of the Hazel Wright Organ featuring Hector Olivera that starts at 7:30 p.m. A Q&A with Hazel stakeholders follows the screening.

Plans for future viewing and distribution of the film are still being planned. Visit www.hazelwrightorgan.com for available updates.