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Friends of the Wanamaker Organ


Peter Richard Conte on the world-famous Wanamaker Organ 
in concert with SYMPHONY IN C
Stilian Kirov, conductor
The Hottest Ticket in Town!

Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.
MACY's Philadelphia

Our spectacular September 23 event,  the after-hours Fire and Fantasy organ-orchestra concert with the Symphony in C, is this season's hottest ticket, attracting people from across the U.S.

It's an evening of gorgeous music with emotions ranging from lush to thunderous, showcasing easy-to-like masterworks from the vast Romantic repertoire. Watch our promo film to get a sampling of the mighty Wanamaker with full orchestra by clicking the banner at top.

Fire and Fantasy is an expensive undertaking and a sonic spectacle of this magnitude is not something we can do often, but it is definitely not to be missed! Hearing the Wanamaker Organ in the hush of the closed store brings out a richness and beauty not replicable anywhere else, as soaring, singing phrases from the orchestra echo in the vast marble hall!

Tickets are at SymphonyinC.org and may also be purchased from Symphony in C during office hours at (856) 963 6683. Their friendly staffers are very familiar with the Grand Court and skilled at securing the most desirable seats for our patrons. Telephoning is a good way to get tickets, and staffers are most attentive to returning phone messages. The online ticket order page starts with the rear of the Court (preferred seats) at the top of the page, with rows closer to the front below.

Here is a rare opportunity to hear the stupendous resources of the mighty Wanamaker in full partnership with the acclaimed Symphony in C, under the baton of acclaimed conductor Stilian Kirov.

Surrounding the event are Daily Wanamaker Concerts (except Thursday at 5:30 pm, which is pre-empted by a Fashion Show, and the Saturday 5:30 pm, when the Organ will rest up for the big concert). We are also offering special FREE pipe chamber tours Friday at 4 pm and Saturday at 2:30 pm. Meet your guide Tom Engstrom at the Eagle!

The concert showcases four fiery transcriptions for Wanamaker Organ and orchestra including Gigout's Grand Choeur Dialogué, Guilmant's Symphony No. 1, Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Liszt's titanic Fantasy and Fugue on Ad Nos Ad Salutam Undam, as arranged by Marcel Dupré.


Eugene Gigout's lusty, full-throated Grand Choeur Dialogué, in full organ-orchestra arrangement, is up first. True to the work's name, its main fanfare is expressed antiphonally between pealing organ and assertive orchestral brass. That is set off with the development of a captivating secondary theme that knits the whole together brilliantly in the surging, thrilling climax.


Coming next is Alexandre Guilmant's melodic and arresting Symphony No. 1. It opens violently, with clashing arguments between organ and orchestra, which develop to reconcile confidently with a lusterous, shimmering theme in which organ and orchestra come to blissful terms in tender harmonic interplay. There follows many episodes of melodic rapture and fiery fantasy before the showpiece reaches the heights of grandeur in its majestic finale.


Vaughan Williams' hauntingly lyric Fantasy on a Theme by Thomas Tallis traces its performance beginnings to a performance under the Gothic vaults of Gloucester Cathedral, and the addition of the Wanamaker Organ in the Peter Conte arrangement coyly underpins the orchestra strings with our own multi-textured String Division.

A favorite virtuoso display piece of the late Virgil Fox, the Franz Liszt Prelude and Fugue on Ad Nos Ad Salutarem Undam ("For Us Men and for Our Salvation" is Heavy Organ at its most hair-raising. For the organist, it is a Lisztian keyboard romp that is playful and particularly demanding technically, and this organ-orchestra arrangement by Marcel Dupré--an American premiere-includes sharp dissonances from the Organ reminiscent of (and doubtless inspired by) the most spine-chilling works of Bach, Buxtehude and Reubke. Prepare for pure Lisztian fire!

The seating chart is at right. Please feel free to call Symphony in C during office hours for details.

"The Organ's superhuman solidity next to a group of individual musicians - made sense in some surprising ways and created an experience that could only happen here....No matter where any given phrase stood in the shifting balance between organ and [orchestra[ sonority, you had the best of two worlds. Radiant, enveloping bands of sound and chantlike melodies created an effect unlike anything I had experienced.---David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2011

The entire concert is dedicated to Friends supporter Peter Hearn, who helped arrange the Philadelphia Orchestra concert of 2008 and many other achievements. 

CONCERT TIPS: Sometimes significant money can be saved on hotels by booking early. Scroll down on our home page to find our visitor guide. Please remember, too, that while all our seats are excellent, and while we have a state-of-the-art video projection system, the preferred seats are toward the back of the house. Seats behind the arches have excellent sight lines without compromised acoustics, and are attractively priced. Call (856) 963 6683 during office hours for personalized assistance securing your admissions!

NOTE TO PATRONS - Our guide from the 2014 Symphony in C concert has much useful information on parking, bathrooms, etc. Unlike that concert, we expect to be seating people before the Store closes, from the Juniper Lobby. Also we expect to have ticket sales and will have ticket pick-up on concert day in the Juniper Lobby. The 2014 guide is viewable HERE.

Unlike some of our other events, Symphony in C will be mailing out physical tickets where time permits. It is in the form of a plastic card with lanyard and indicates your section. The card also may be used as a Macy's discount card offering substantial savings on thousands of items. There will also be a will-call desk at the Juniper Street entrance to the Store before concert time.

Please note that the Friends post card for the event had an error in the fine print of the Seating Chart...the correct date of the concert is on Saturday September 23, 2017.

The local Fox affiliate produced this exciting piece on Wanamaker Organ Day, viewable HERE!

New DVD! Immediate Shipping! Ever wonder what it is like to sit down and play the Wanamaker Organ? Our exciting new DVD, The Wanamaker Organ: A Sonic Odyssey, is now available! Just click on the icon at left to secure your copy.

Peter Richard Conte and Yale organist Thomas Murray go through the Organ's formidable resources in a fascinating, fun, three hour film full of insights from two master musicians. A companion to our Curator's Tour DVD. Orders are being shipped immediately since stock has arrived. An enclosed booklet includes registration and playing insight from Conte, Keith Chapman, Virgil Fox, and more!

Read Peter Dobrin's marvelous paean to the Wanamaker Organ in the Philadelphia Inquirer HERE. Writes Dobrin: Whatever your taste, this is music of the best sort -- music you didn't find, but that found you.

As a Valentine's Day treat, watch Wedding Party "royalty" acknowledge enthusiastic shoppers at Macy's Center City--by clicking on the icon at left. The brief film clip (hat tip Matt Taft) was taken as the happy couple had their pre-nuptial photos taken (by pre-arrangement) in front of the Organ Case. Jeremy Flood provided suitably thrilling weddy music. The ceremony itself was held afterward in the Crystal Tea Room. All congratulations to the honeymooning newlyweds!

Nik Sizgorich sent us this link honoring the 30th anniversary of the release of the cult classic Mannequin, filmed at John Wanamaker Philadelphia. Details are HERE. Title character Kim Cattrall visited Macy's and Peter Richard Conte in the loft during a fairly recent touring engagement, and sang along to a medley from "The Wizard of Oz."  Cattrall's character soared through the Grand Court on a hang glider in the movie. Costar Andrew McCarthy was filmed at the console. In 1991, a sequel was released that includes scenes from the area that is today our Organ Shop.

You may renew your membership safely and instantly HERE. Donations at larger levels entitle the giver to special premium gifts. Thank you so very much for your help in sustaining our musical mission!

Enjoy the 2016 Christmas in the Grand Tradition concert HERE.

Many first-time visitors ask about whether there is a charge for the daily concerts, or if special preparations are needed. The answer is a simple no. The Wanamaker Organ plays into the huge atrium of a grand department store, and the concerts are a free part of the daily Macy's shopping experience. The reg

ular daily schedule is Here.

JULY 2016 SANSOM STUDENT CAMP - Congratulations to this year's participants:  Emily Amos, Adrian Binkley,  Benjamin Henderson, Matthew Johnson, Aaron Patterson and Martin Jones. We extend heartfelt thanks to the Sansom Foundation, Rudy Lucente and Macy's for making this rare opportunity possible.

Aaron Patterson's sassy performance of George Gershwin's 'Promenade' is excerpted Here.

Into the Spring we are restoring the Choir Division, the Contra Bombarde, the Chorus Third Diapason chest, various Expression Shade motors and the Mustel Celesta. Full details and concert plans are in the Friends' newsletter, available exclusively to members. Your participation is the only way we can keep on doing what we do. Look for the Join the Friends item at our webstore today!

Archived streamcasts of the monthly WRTI-FM broadcast are available HERE, and include performances by many guest artists as well as our beloved Peter Richard Conte.

dmission to o
ur monthly last-Saturday-of-the-month Organ Tours are available by appointment. Secure your admissions clicking HERE and meet your tour guide Nik Sizgorich
at noon at the Eagle on the day of each tour. After the noon concert is finished, Nik will then take ticketholders on the tour.

Included in the tour is the Friends Museum, which includes first editions from the personal library of organ architect George Ashdown Audsley, all of his own works, placed on deposit with the Friends. The actual Leopold Stokowski 78 rpm record that inspired Virgil Fox to arrange "Come Sweet Death" may be viewed, as may the medal Dr. Audsley received at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, and a silver tray given to his father in 1838. Other exhibits include documents signed by Rodman Wanamaker, and memorabilia pertaining to Wanamaker Organist Keith Chapman and former curators.

Private tours are available by appointment when guides are available, but incur an extra charge to cover the expenses of securing a guide. (We are a small organization and do not have a tour guide staff on site.) Cost per person is $18 (you can use the Student Rate at our webstore to secure admissions). The cost of securing a guide for a private tour is extra, and depends on what is negotiated with the guide, who is paid his or her fee in person and usually travel into town for the tour. Please try to give us as much advance notice as possible.

Also note that taking a tour makes a participant eligible to get issues of The Stentor. If you take a tour and someone else submits their name with the financial information, e-mail us with your own information as well. You can E-mail us about tours and availability at execdirec@wanamakerorgan.com.

NOTE: There are no regular monthly tours in November or December because of the Christmas Light Show.

Please consider the Friends in your giving. Each year we start afresh, dependent on your generosity, having depleted the funds of the season before. Thank you for your consideration as we strive to grow our musical mission.

Take a look at the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ film intended as an orientation for store visitors. Linked here is the most recent edit. Macy's has also put it on their official website, accessible HERE.
To play the video, simply click on the illustration at right.


Peter Richard Conte and flugelhornist Andrew Ennis were interviewed by WRTI's Susan Lewis HERE.

An article on the Rodman Wanamaker flag collection by Karen Chernick of Hidden City is HERE.

The Wanamaker Organ Hour program continues on WRTI-FM and at WRTI.org on the first Sunday of each month, at 5 pm.


Regular membership in the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ enables us to be eligible for the special funding that allows this restoration work to go forward. You can help support the restoration and all our programs and get prompt news on our events by becoming a new Friend of the Wanamaker Organ. For just $25, new members receive our acclaimed quarterly 16-page newsletter, which is chock full of concert and restoration news and historical memorabilia, information that is only available in printed form.
You can Join the Friends by clicking here or on the membership icon at right. (Members may renew by clicking the Renewal Box at the top of this page.

Tourist information for Wanamaker Organ visitors, including hotel and restaurant ideas and money saving tips, is available by clicking the banner below. We look forward to seeing you!

Our CafePress store makes items individually as ordered and direct mails them to the purchaser. As a result, classic Wanamaker items are available on everything from posters to cufflinks. Check it out by clicking the banner above!

A Philadelphia Daily News video piece is available HERE.

Information on the Wanamaker Organ and the  historic Store is available at the MACY's INFORMATION DESK on the Main Floor of the Center City Macy's Men's Department. At the present time, the desk has discontinued offering a selection of organ CDs, DVDs and Books as their sales system is being reviewed.

You will find the desk along the right side of the center aisle just as you enter the Grand Court.
The desk is generally staffed from 11 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday, and Saturday from noon to 5pm. (Please remember that the Wanamaker Organ does not play on Sundays.) The staff prides itself on its knowledge of the Store and its heritage. Macy's has also been offering historic tours. Please consult the information below and contact Macy's to see if this offering is still available at the time of your visit.

Historic Tours
Daily Guided Historic Store Tour

Discover the magic of Macy's Center City Philadelphia, with highlights including the breathtaking Wanamaker Building, Wanamaker Grand Court Organ and Grand Court Eagle. Plus, learn how Macy's has grown into America's largest department store with 800+ locations and over 100 years of retailing history. Tours can be customized to focus on architecture, merchandising, marketing or fashion. All participants receive a Macy's Visitor Savings Pass. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and must be scheduled in advance. For more information or to book a tour, contact Macy's Center City Visitor Center at 215-241-9000 ext. 2408.

Folks who identify themselves as Wanamaker Organ tourists at the Visitors' Center and come from a distance away are entitled to a Macy's Savings Pass, so be sure to ask about that as well!
Incidentally, there is no sales tax on most clothing purchases in Pennsylvania! Jennie Funches (pictured) is your host. 

Keep up with all the restoration news in the Friends' newsletter The Stentor. Four issues come with your membership, and are packed with restoration and concert news with historical insights and letters from other members.
Please consider making a contribution here. A prospectus on the fund is available here.We are counting on this fund to create quality presentations for many years to come as we help secure the Wanamaker Organ's place in musical life in the years ahead.
The icon above takes you to a page with interactive links to media stories on the Wanamaker Organ, including a recent Pipedreams with highlights from Wanamaker Organ Day, a fascinating interview with our carpenter Scott Kip, and a superb Bob Krist National Geographic short film on "The Voice of Philadelphia."
Hearing Philadelphia's Wanamaker Organ is a life-changing experience. Our society is sponsored by people around the world who are helping protect the world's largest playing pipe organ. We invite you to join the Friends and receive four issues of our 16-page newsletter and member-access to all Friends activities.

The Wanamaker Organ is undergoing a multi-year restoration. Divisions that have been patched together are getting a thorough restoration. Members help sustain this crucial work and our music, education and hospitality programs.
Members  receive all the details on the restoration and Friends concerts, as well as news of private concerts, tours, and fund-raisers, in our acclaimed quarterly newsletter, The Stentor.
Macy's and the Wanamaker Organ are located at the Wanamaker Building at 13th and Market Streets in Center City Philadelphia, PA, next to City Hall.
Macy's is easily accessible by SEPTA (www.septa.org), PATCO www.ridepatco.org), and NJT (www.njtransit.com) bus and rail lines to Center City, Philadelphia.
This website was made possible by people just like you who love the Wanamaker Organ and want to share that joy. Please look through our website menus for answers to all common questions about making your visit to our Philadelphia wonder thoroughly enjoyable.

IMPORTANT: Are you using a mobile device for turn-by-turn directions to the Store? Please enter 1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA   19107 to reach Macy's and the Wanamaker Organ. Please do NOT enter the Friends' business address below.


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