The soaring Grand Court of the famous Philadelphia department store—home to the thunderous Wanamaker Organ—will be transformed into a magnificent concert hall on Saturday September 27.
The Philadelphia Orchestra combines its resources with those of the Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest playing pipe organ. The organ has 28,482 pipes ranging from the size of a pencil to giants towering 37 feet tall. Performed for the first time here is Joseph Jongen’s Symphonie Concertante. One of the most famous organ-orchestra pieces, closing in a thrilling pull-out-all-the stops toccata, it was written for the Wanamaker Organ and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1926, but to date has never been played on the instrument for which it was intended.
This event is co-sponsored by Macy’s and by the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, and is a benefit for the Friends. The event is part of Macy’s official 150th Anniversary Celebration, and includes a new composition by Howard Shore, who wrote the music for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films.
Patrons purchasing tickets at $500 and above are entitled to a lavish pre-concert open-bar and hors d’oeuvres party amid the Gilded Age splendor of the Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall. They are also entitled to a Curators Tour of the Wanamaker Organ at Noon the following day, with light refreshments and wine in the Wanamaker Organ Shop at Macy’s. Holders of tickets of $1000 or higher will receive a tax deduction for amounts above the $500 ‘base price’ of the ticket.
Tickets priced $200 and above are in prime seating areas in the Grand Court. Tickets priced $250 and above will have a direct Main Floor view of the orchestra. Lesser-priced seating is along the Grand Court upper balconies on floors two and three. Seating is extremely limited and demand for this rare event is expected to be exceptionally heavy—please purchase your tickets promptly.
Macy’s is installing large TV monitors to provide views to those on the balconies.
A similar concert in 1919 attracted 15,000 concertgoers. It was said that when the resources of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Wanamaker Organ were combined, the result was a “perfect Niagara of sound,” transforming the Grand Court into a “temple of thrilling harmonies and soaring epics of tone.” Nothing like this has been done in almost a century, nor is the event likely to be repeated in the near future. For the first time in decades, the entire resources of the Wanamaker Organ will be available, including the recently restored Orchestral Division.
In addition to the Jonge “Symphonie Concertante” and the Howard Shore “Fanfare”, the program includes organ-orchestra arrangements of the Bach/Stokowski “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” and the sublime “Cortege and Litany” by Marcel Dupré. All these works will be heard as never before in sheer sonic splendor as the world’s largest pipe organ teams its resources with the formidable players of the full Philadelphia Orchestra.
Saturday, September 27 at 7:30 pm
The Grand Court at Macy’s
John Wanamaker Building
13th Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Rossen Milanov, Conductor
Peter Richard Conte, Soloist