The Friends of the Wanamaker Organ welcomes you!
Help us celebrate an AMERICAN ICON at Macy's Philadelphia
Tickets for our electrifying June 29 Grand Evening Concert are on sale now. Click here to secure yours. A number of inexpensive Philadelphia hotel rooms are undersold, and bargains are available at online sites such as Hotels.com. Please scroll down to read more visitor suggestions!
WANAMAKER ORGAN DAY SATURDAY JUNE 29, 2013. It's our 20th annual daylong festival! Ray Cornils and Christian Elliott join Peter Richard Conte in a series of programs that includes a rare opportunity to hear these artists at night in the perfect hush of ideal acoustics when the Store is closed! Hear the full resources of the Organ in all its delicate beauty with the combined talents of three of today's most acclaimed artists. (Click here for a draft of the program.)
The day begins at 10am when historian Rick Seifert presents his newly enhanced audio-visual spectacular on the Wanamaker Organ, modestly but accurately titled "The Greatest Musical Wonder in the World" in Greek Hall. The event is admission-free. Free tours of the pipe chambers are also held at this time. Rather than opening selected chambers for a period of time, this year's tours will be guided and conducted in groups. Meet at the Eagle at 10 am.
At 11:30 a free Grand Court program follows that is also broadcast live on WRTI-FM and streamcast live around the world on wrti.org. Peter Richard Conte, Ray Cornils and Christian Elliot perform, with Elliott presenting Richard Purvis's "Of Moor and Fen" and his "St. Francis Suite" to mark San Francisco composer's centenary. Ray Cornils plays David German's Festive Trumpet Tuneand Gordon Balch Nevin's "Will-o-the-wisp," while Rudy Lucente plays Keith Chapman's Gaelic Air and Richard Purvis's Marche Grotesque. Works by Richard Strauss and Verdi are also showcased by Peter Richard Conte.
At 2 pm, Elliott performs for our Music-and-Movie program at our Wurlitzer in Greek Hall. Included is the classic film Ella Cinders (1926), a campy romp based on the timeless fairy tale and vintage comic strip. It stars Colleen Moore, the Jazz Age's answer to the Great Gatsby's Daisy. Admission is only $10 (available at the door) and ticket-holders for our paid evening event are admitted for free. Elliott, a stellar entertainer and superb virtuoso, was voted the 2009 ATOS artist of the year.
Afternoon events are capped by a free 5 pm Grand Court spectacular. It's an Afternoon at the Opera featuring Peter Richard Conte and the acclaimed Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Festival Chorus and Brass ensemble - this year in a celebration of famous arias by Wagner and Verdi during their anniversary year. Opera favorites include the Anvil Chorus and Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Verdi) and Pilgrim's Chorus (Wagner), as well as the Triumphal March from Aida and the equally famous Wedding March (with Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral) from Lohengrin. Rudy Lucente also performs, and an audience sing-along segment of National Airs is included.
Tickets for the Saturday 8:30pm Grand Evening Concert are now on sale at our webstore. This rare opportunity to hear the Wanamaker Organ under ideal and intimate conditions includes spectacular organ-and brass-arrangements including the Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann and the Carillon de Westminster by Louis Vierne, together with masterworks by Richard Purvis. Arrangements by Wagner (from Lohengrin) Richard Strauss ("Solemn Entry" and a breathtaking new PRC transcription of the lush "Moonlight Scene" from Capriccio), plus Denis Bedard (his Toccata in G) are slated. Conte also essays Verdi's towering Overture to "La Forza del Destino." The wistful Largo from Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and a work by Gabrielli round out the rousing program. Ray Cornils and Christian Elliott join Mr. Conte as special guest artists for this evening spectacular.
To secure your tickets for the evening concert - while they last - click the icon at right or go to our webstore. Ticket-holders to the special evening concert also gain free admission to the afternoon Wurlitzer event in Greek Hall. Friends members get a $10 discount per ticket for themselves and all others in their party. Tickets will not be mailed, but subscribers should save and print their receipts. However we will have a list with all the subscribers at the concert, so if you simply give us your name we will give you your wristbands.
Admission to the Grand Evening Concert, which is held after Macy's closes and is completely emptied of customers, will be from the Juniper Street Lobby, which is at the middle of the long side of the John Wanamaker Building and faces the corner of City Hall. We will have a will-call table set up there, and the lobby is a spacious place to wait in the event of adverse weather. It is suggested that patrons arrive a bit early and also that they be punctual as the concert is in a department store with security concerns.
WANAMAKER ORGAN DAY RELATED EVENTS
We know that our events attract many visitors from out of town. For those arriving early, on Friday June 28, Rick Seifert will present his sound-and-light Wanamaker Organ presentation in Greek Hall at 3 pm. Tours of the pipe chambers will be given at 5pm, and the organ will play at its usual times of 12 noon and 7pm. The Friends is checking with Macy's about the possibility of having a regular Peter Richard Conte concert Sunday afternoon June 30 at 2 pm, and will post confirmation here should necessary permissions be obtained. Scroll down and explore our site for visitor suggestions!
Mark your calendars now for more Wanamaker Organ Day details, and watch this space for further updates. The morning concert is slated to be broadcast live on WRTI-FM with host Jill Pasternak.
Plan now to take part, while hotel rooms are discounted! More events are being planned, including a free organ chamber and shop tour on Friday June 28 before that evening's 7pm regular recital. Look to this space for further details as the event nears. SCROLL DOWN TO THE INDEPENDENCE HALL BANNER FOR ADVICE ON LOCAL HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS AND THINGS TO DO! The first week in July is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Of course, Philadelphia has major Fourth of July festivities.
We have moved our special tourism guide to its own page. Please click the image of Independence Hall above to go there! Send us your own experiences so we can improve our presentation.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: THE WANAMAKER ORGAN MAY BE SHUT
DOWN BEGINNING ABOUT JULY 8 FOR TWO OR THREE WEEKS
FOR THE FOLLOWING PROJECTS...
Installing a new Great Relay (which will render the main keyboard inoperative during
Removal and Restoration of the decorative wood 'cage' around the console
Removal and restoration of the Brass railing overlooking the Grand Court,
which leaves the space without a safety guard.
New Flooring in the Console Loft.
We will post more information as it becomes available.
Yale curator Joseph Dzeda discusses Yale's Symphonic organ in a film
JIM RIGGS: FIRST TIME OUT! Our first professional Compact Disc recording of the Friends Wurlitzer is now available at the Friends webstore. The recording uses the full resources of our state-of-the-art Studio 2M designed by Jim Stemke and featuring the finest audio equipment anywhere, and is playable on any CD player. Our Wurlitzer was originally part of the Smithsonian Institution because it is one of the few Wurlitzers still in its factory manufactured condition, with all pipework and mechanism intact and pristine. Jim Riggs shows its many gorgeous tone colors and percussions with melody after melody from the Great American Songbook. An illustrated color trifold tells the story of our Wurlitzer with beautiful color photos.
Hit the Keep Shopping button and check out James Welch's page-turning new biography of Grace Cathedral organist/composer Richard Purvis, too! Also for the first time we are offering Centennial Celebration pins marking the Organ's first hundred years in the Store.
Information on the Wanamaker Organ and a selection of organ CDs and Books is available at the Macy's Information Desk on the Third Floor of the Center City Macy's during periods of time when that desk is staffed, usually noon to 6pm, Monday through Saturday. Take the elevators to the Third Floor and head ftoward the Executive Offices.
Special thanks to our volunteers who made the May 18 Isabelle Demers concert so memorable, including Anthony Nichols, Laura and Roy Blanchard, Jim Stemke, Maureen and Alex Thielens, Rick Seifert and Jesse Arcus, and Nik Sizgorich and Don Drury.
The Friends salutes outgoin Center City store manager James Kenny and welcomes new manager Kathy Weaver.
We are very sorry to report the passing of Enos Shupp, a veteran record reviewer, our longtime concert reviewer and the very first Friend of the Wanamaker Organ member. He was 97. He will be memorialized at our Spring concert. A published obituary is here.
Secure tickets to our monthly last-Saturday-of-the-month organ tours 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. Please print out your order as your receipt (ticket). Tours are not offered during November and December because of conflicts with the Christmas Light Show. Click on the icon to go to the tour portion of the webstore.
You can help support our programs and get prompt news on our events by becoming a new Friend of the Wanamaker Organ. 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. Members are also eligible for generous discounts on tickets for our after-hours events. You can join the Friends by clicking here or on the membership icon at left. (Members may renew by clicking the renewal box at the top of this page).
Peter Richard Conte welcomed Golden Globe Award-winning actress Kim Cattrall to the loft in late January. It was something of a homecoming for Ms. Cattrall had her first big break in the movie "Mannequin," which was filmed at John Wanamaker in 1987. She sang along to Mr. Conte's performance of songs from "The Wizard of Oz" and also confirmed that it was not her, but a stunt double, who did the hang-gliding feat in the Grand Court for the movie. Ms. Cattrall, who was in town to see a friend perform in a play at the Wilma Theatre, said she wanted to see the organ again that was prominently featured in the film, about a mannequin that suddenly comes to life.
You can listen to the Wanamaker Organ using an archive of past radio-broadcast shows here! See a PBS mini-feature on the Wanamaker Organ here!
The Friends has launched an ambitious Century II Music Endowment drive to mark the 100th anniversary of the Wanamaker Organ in the Store. Among the uses of the fund is revenue to buy much needed chairs for our concerts. 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 comeas we mark the Wanamaker Organ's 100th anniversary in the Store.
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.
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.