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Friends of the Wanamaker Organ

We regret that the YesterdayUsa Wanamaker Organ Broadcast will not be available Wed. May 25 due to "major internet issues." Thank you for your understanding.

Our Signature Event, Wanamaker Organ Day is Saturday June 4, and we will actually be holding exciting and more intimate opening events throughout Friday June 3 as well. For Friday early-bird details, please scroll down. Also please check our webstore for our new Peter Richard Conte CD Virgil Fox Remembered! It's from his 2012 concert.

Wanamaker Organ Day features a powerhouse lineup, with featured artists Peter Richard Conte, Monte Maxwell and Walt Strony. Plans call for a 10 am Presentation of Rick Seifert's audio-visual tribute to the Wanamaker Organ in Greek Hall, titled "The Greatest Musical Wonder in the World."

Free organ chamber tours are also offered, beginning at 9:45 am in the String Chamber, and following the 11am concert (about 12:30pm).

That is followed by a free-admission Morning Concert at 11 am that is broadcast over WRTI-FM and WRTI.org; afternoon Wurlitzer Events at 2 pm ($10 at the door or free to patrons of the Evening Concert) showcasing a Laurel and Hardy short, "Liberty," and classics from the Great American Songbook. "Liberty" chronicle of the antics of two escaped cons who duck into a skyscraper under construction to change clothes. That leads to some literal high-jinks in spectacular stuntwork.

In the later afternoon at 5 pm is a free-admission Choral Concert Spectacular with the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Festival Chorus. The combination of organ and professional choir is not one to be missed!

Capping the day is a ticketed Grand Evening Concert in the perfect hush of the Grand Court. This year at night the mighty Wanamaker is servant to three masters: Conte, Maxwell and Strony!

Yes-At Night, the Stars Come Out! Tickets for the June 4 Grand Evening Concert in the closed store are available at our webstore. For the first time we have a mega-talent line-up of three top organists that evening. Peter Richard Conte presents some of his tour-de-force arrangements, Walt Strony is slated to thrill with the full version of his acclaimed "Victory at Sea," and concert artist Monte Maxwell brings rafter-rocking masterworks.

Maxwell, a former Keith Chapman assistant, presides at the mammoth instrument at the Chapel of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, where officers and midshipmen worship. He is celebrated for a sell-out Halloween/All Saints Day spectacular he presides over mixing music, light, drama and dance. He is planning to play Wagner's "Fanfare to Parsifal," Alexander Russell's "Bells of St. Anne de Beaupré," Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" and Vierne's fiery "Final from the Sixth Symphony."

The Grand Evening Concert includes an opening Walt Strony Wurlitzer Event in Greek Hall at 8 pm. There, patrons who have secured admissions may gather for light entertainment and light refreshments  (included with admission) as the Store closes. A table of sweet treats is also included!

Making its return for the occasion is a Wanamaker Organ mega-stop - the Contra Bombarde 32', which is being masterfully restored by Samuel Hughes. Look for new thrills from these powerful pipes!

These special after hours evening concerts began in 1919, when John and Rodman Wanamaker would clear the store and seat up to 15,000 guests. The Friends and Macy's have reinstated these special concerts in recent years, seating up to several hundred guests in comfort. It is only in this special environment that the Wanamaker Pipe Organ may be heard in its entire splendor and subtlety.

A special highlight of the day is a gorgeous Andrew Ennis organ arrangement of "The Pines of the Appian Way" from Respighi's "The Pines of Rome." Thrill to the Wanamaker Organ in a rare four-hands transcription as Conte and Ennis (a talented Conte organ student for several years) access the added sonic riches of a multi-keyboard performance! To hear an orchestra version of the piece, just click on the Ennis/Conte icon.

At the free Wanamaker Organ Day 5 pm Grand Choral Concert, plans call for gorgeous choral masterworks that include portions of the Duruflé Requiem; Fauré's "Cantique de Jean Racine"; Cèsar Franck's Psalm 150; movements from Vierne's Messe Solennelle, including the Gloria and Kyrie; Widor's Tu es Petrus and Quam Dilecta Tabernacula Tua"; and other works.

This French choral presentation pays tribute to the collection of French heraldic regimental silk banners assembled by Rodman Wanamaker, which we are receiving from the Flag Heritage Foundation. We expect to have some of these on display. Special thanks go to Ralph and Anna McDowell, whose generosity allowed us to bring this collection to Philadelphia. A short film on the collection may be viewed HERE.

Hearing the Wanamaker Organ in the closed store is the 'difference of night and day,' with the Organ's profound subtleties no longer masked by the necessary noises of commerce, and all inhibitions removed against tastefully playing Full Organ for sustained periods of time.

FRIDAY: For those of you coming earlier, expect an even more intimate experience with the Wanamaker Organ. Please plan on catching the Friday concerts at Noon and 7 pm. Tours of the console area are given following those events, and pipe chamber and Shop tours will also be given.

We are also planning some exciting events in Greek Hall Auditorium on the Third Floor , including, at 2 pm, Rick Seifert's spectacular presentation on "The Greatest Musical Wonder in the World," a history of the Wanamaker Organ.

Click on the Rick Seifert icon at right for a descriptive page on his presentations.

Rick has also prepared a printable guide to Wanamaker Organ Day thai is accessible HERE. We hope that you will take advantage of this unique and legendary Philadelphia musical event. And keep watching this spot as further details, including tour times, are announced!

Also planned is a Greek Hall Wanamaker Organ art exhibition. Artist Victoria Rolett has created several evocative paintings, b

lock prints, monotypes and other artworks based on photographs she took from a recent tour of the Wanamaker Organ. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will benefit the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ. A showing is also tentatively planned for Saturday during times when Greek Hall is not otherwise in use.

JULY SANSOM STUDENT CONCERT: Peter Richard Conte reports that this year's Sansom Students are slated to play on Friday July 8 from 6:30 until 8 pm. We invite parents of aspiring musicians to come and meet these players during this free concert. Sansom students spend a week in masterclasses with Peter Richard Conte, Alan Morrison and others in sessions that include time performing on the Big Organ.

Previous students have gone on to top conservatories and at least one is featured in this year's Longwood competition. We give our deep thanks to the Sansom Foundation and Macy's for making this rare opportunity possible.

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.

Admission to our 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 new 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.
Thanks to Evan Jones of RBY Productions for his video work and Bill Bragg for his outstanding narration. Also thanks go to Bob Krist for allowing us to use some of his footage of the ongoing restoration, and Jon Buchanan for putting it on the new kiosk outside the console. This revised version (No. 5) includes a lot more restoration scenes including work on the Great Chorus. To play the video, simply click on the illustration at right.

The Friends honors Frederick R. Haas. Fred Haas has consistently supported the Wanamaker Organ through the Haas Charitable Trusts, and has been a major supporter and champion of the King of Instruments. Macy's has refurbished the console loft in his honor. A plaque has been made which will be permanently hung outside the console loft in Fred Haas' honor. All of us are profoundly in debt to his philanthropy.
The flyer for our 2016 premiums confuses the passing of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue's John Scott with featured artist Todd Wilson, who is still very much with us. We apologize for the error.

It is hard to believe that the Vox Humana Chorus made its debut in December 2006, nine years ago. It was part of the gift of the late Edith Brickman, whose generosity caused the Orchestral Division to undergo a complete restoration.


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

A new 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.

Matt Blitz is a writer for Smithsonian.com who took a tour of the Wanamaker Organ a few weeks ago and was so impressed that he wrote a detailed feature article on it for Smithsonian Travel. Included is video footage of Michael Stairs playing the organ, with the assistance of Doug Backman.
You can click HERE to read Matt's engaging new feature.


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.

A masters thesis on the liturgical decorations Rodman Wanamaker gave to St. Mark's Church in Philadelphia and the Royal Family parish at Sandringham in England may be found here. It is an enlightening dissertation that surveys many beautiful objects without quite pinpointing why they have that certain "It" factor of beauty. Surely that must have come from Rodman's unerring taste.

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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