In celebration of the completed restoration of the Hazel Wright Organ, the Diocese of Orange has produced a 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.
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” had its premiere on the Christ Cathedral campus on Sept. 30, 2022, before the Dedication Concert of the Hazel Wright Organ featuring Hector Olivera. It included a Q&A with Hazel stakeholders and Michael Barone, host of American Public Media’s “Pipedreams.”
The film – repackaged as “Hazel’s Story,” complete with more than 90 minutes of bonus features, including the only available recording of the Sept. 30 Q&A – is now available for sale on Blu-ray disc through the Gothic Catalog and Christ Cathedral Shop (in person and online).
“Hazel is Back” is also available for free viewing on YouTube. It is also available for rent and digital purchase (in standard definition and high definition, with captions) through Amazon Prime and the Microsoft Store.