January has been a very sad month for the Friends with the passing of several people important to us. Our volunteer Michael C. Smith has lost both his parents within a week of each other. We extend our love and sympathy to him and his sister.
e are very sorry to report that Assistant Curator Sam Whitcraft, who did such exceptional bench work for the Wanamaker Organ and was a human encyclopedia on its construction and maintenance, passed away unexpectedly in his home on January 10. Sam was a much beloved father figure of the Wanamaker Organ shop and loved interacting with the many doing work there from his King Chair. Woe to anyone else who sat in his King Chair...or borrowed a tool that was not returned. Sam is shown here with the finished piano touch regulator, which allows the organist to strike the piano keys from pianissimo to forte using an expression pedal. Sam was preceded in death by his beloved wife Routh about a decade ago. A web listing from the Snover/Givnish funeral home is HERE.
On January 31 a wonderful concert and reception was held in Sam's honor under Macy's and the Friends' sponsorship, and featured performances by Peter Richard Conte, Fred Haas, Michael Lawrence, Rudy Lucente and Michael Stairs. Special thanks to them and to Maurice O'Connell of Macy's and Curt Mangel and the Wyncote Grant restorers, and to Gary Haines for spectacular bouquets of flowers sent for the occasion. Harry Wilkinson's memory was also honored, as was our volunteer Michael C. Smith who lost his parents.
Wanamaker Organ assistant organist Harry C. Wilkinson, died peacefully at his home on Thursday January 14. Born in England in 1922, his career as an organist and
church musician was long and distinguished. Yale organ curatorJoseph Dzeda sent us this tribute: "A gifted improviser at the organ, he began his early studies at age 12 with
Harry Banks, Girard College organist. The massive Girard College organ, installed in 1933, was designed by Ernest Skinner and remained Harry's favorite
organ throughout his long life. Known not only for his musical skills but also for his warmth and sense of humor, Harry Wilkinson will be sorely missed by those who knew him. His passing marks the end of an era." A tribute by Frederick Hohman is found HERE.
WRTI host Jill Pasternak dedicated a Bach organ piece to Dr. Wilkinson on Wednesday January 21 during the listener request program, called in by friends Sally and Tom Hoey. His funeral Mass was held on Friday January 23. A future Wanamaker Organ special concert will be held in his memory.
MAKE A NEW YEAR TAX DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE FRIENDS HERE! OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE
January the lowest two keyboards of the organ console will be removed
for refurbishment. Owing to the heavy use they receive, some notes have
been sticking together, and there have been other issues that need to be
meticulously addressed. The key contacts will also be inspected. There
are still four other hand keyboards for the organist to use. Thank you
for your patience during this time.
We are please to offer immediate shipping for the Wanamaker Organ Centennial CD, DVD, and DVD combo at our webstore. Be among the first to obtain this spectacular new recording. Just click on the icon at left to secure your copy, or check out our full Webstore using the menu at top for a complete listing of Wanamaker Organ products!
Two Friends DVDs, the "Wanamaker Organ Curators Tour" and "Around the Wanamaker Organ in 80 Minutes," received glowing reviews in The American Organist Magazine. You may view the reviews HERE. 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!
Some readers may remember the James Burke program Connections, which showed how a series of seemingly unrelated ideas led to a specific historical result. Charles Jenkins has achieved similar ends with three fascinating web pages on the Wanamaker Organ. His story begins, appropriately enough, with the Louisiana Purchase and can be followed HERE.
A Philadelphia Daily News video piece is available HERE. An article on the Wanamaker Organ is accessible by clicking the bannker below.
Our prayers and condolences go to Curt Mangel and his family on the occasion of the passing of Curt's brother James. Also our condolences go to Alex Thielens on the sudden passing of his beloved wife Maureen.
Information on the Wanamaker Organ, the historic Store and a selection of organ CDs, DVDs and Books is available at the MACY's INFORMATION DESK on the Main Floor of the Center City Macy's Men's Department.
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 9am to 7pm, Monday through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday 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.
Folks who identify themselves as Wanamaker Organ tourists 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), and Emily Cronrath are your hosts.
The YesterdayUSA app is
a wonderful addition to any Smartphone and provides hours of free
entertainment anywhere on many phone data plans. Bill Bragg is the host.
The service may also be accessed at YesterdayUSA.com. You may also
hear the Wanamaker Organ the first Sunday of each month at 5pm on WRTI-FM in the Philadelphia area. Hear it around the world via streamcast at wrti.org. Peter Richard Conte and our much loved co-host Jill Pasternak are featured.
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.
The Friends has launched an ambitious Century II Music Endowment drive to as the Wanamaker Organ turns the corner on its first century in the Store. Among the uses of the fund is revenue to buy much needed chairs for our concerts. We are a small nonprofit with a big mission.
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.
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.