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Welcome to the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ!

his year's 20th Annual Wanamaker Organ Day is on Saturday June 6, and there will also be early-bird events on Friday June 5

More details on a powerhouse line-up of fresh music are rolling in, so check out the latest details below. Please mark your calendars and make plans now! 

What could be more spectacular than Grand  Orchestra and Wanamaker Organ? Critic Alexander Russell said that when the two were heard together it created "A Perfect Niagara of Sound." Tickets for the June 6 Grand Evening Capstone Concert with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra are available by clicking the icon at right.  Or Telephone (484) 684 7250 during business hours.

The draft program (two sets of pages) is available by clicking the icon at upper left. Scroll down to see the complete offerings.

This concert caps the orchestra's spectacular 75th year, and together with Peter Richard Conte's 25th anniversary, honors a full century of musical excellence. As many as 100 orchestra players are expected to be on hand. The special 8:30 pm program, at popular prices ($40 and $50), is slated to include thrilling organ-orchestra arrangements and the following pieces...
  • Richard Strauss - Festival Prelude in C Major
  • Richard Strauss - Mondscheinmusik, from Capriccio (Organ Solo)
  • Sheridan Seyfried - Across the Sky (Orchestra Solo; 2015)
  • Shostakovich - Festive Overture (with Wanamaker Organ interpolations)
  • Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire Music from Die Walkurie (Wanamaker Organ Solo)      
  • Mahler - Adagietto from Symphony No. 5 (with Wanamaker Organ interpolations)
  • Saint-Saens - Finale from Symphony No. 3
Those wishing to preview the spectacular Strauss piece may listen HERE.

Friends members and their parties are eligible for the $40 discount tickets. New members may join for just $25. Both options are found near the top of our webstore, accessed by clicking HERE.

WANAMAKER ORGAN DAY SCHEDULE Saturday June 6 is a day of free pipe-organ chamber tours, audio-visual presentations, a silent movie and thrilling concerts on the 29,000-pipe Wanamaker Organ.

THE DAY OPENS at 10 am with free tours  of the organ chambers and Friends Museum. Meet your guides at the Friends table at the rear of the Grand Court.

ALSO AT 10 am Rick Seifert returns to present his documentary "The Greatest Musical Wonder in the World," a history of the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ. Accompanied by a spectacular soundtrack and 500 historic images, the live presentation provides a rare glimpse into the grandeur of the former Wanamaker Department Store. The program is in Greek Hall on the Third Floor, Market and 13th Streets corner. To view a poster of the event, click Here.

The music itself begins with a 75-minute Grand Opening Concert at 11:30 am featuring Peter Richard Conte in "Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire Music," by Richard Wagner. That is an act that is hard to follow, but  Peter Krasinski gives it his best shot with his exciting transcription of the brassy second movement of Gustav Mahler's aptly namedFirst Symphony, "Titan."

Rudy Lucente and Fred Haas also perform works by Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, Telemann, Samuel Barber, William Strickland and Daquin, and Conte plays aroof-raising Wagner opera transcription in addition to lyric operatic duets with flugelhornist Andrew Ennis
from their exciting new CD "My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice." Included are "Funeral March for a Marionette," a
nd "Nessun Dorma."

Jill Pasternak, the First Lady of the Wanamaker Organ, hosts a live broadcast of her WRTI-FM program "Crossover" as the performances are featured, and this part of Wanamaker Organ Day may be heard anywhere live over the Internet at WRTI.org. This program is presented in memory of Dr. Harry Wilkinson.

Mr. Krasinski is featured again at our Greek Hall Wurlitzer at 2 pm, playing the silent-comedy romp "It" (1927) starring Clara Bow, the original "It Girl." Admission is $10 at the door, but those who have evening concert tickets are admitted free.
"It" is the charming story of an ingenue who has "It," that certain something that is a combination of beauty and charm. She is Betty Lou, a shop girl whose looks propel her into the arms of a department store magnate (Antonio Moreno).

The Wanamaker Organ Day
action then shifts to the Grand Court at 5 pm, where Peter Richard Conte is joined by the Philadelphia Brass and a battery of Tympani for a sonic bombardment sure to set the rafters rumbling.

Included is Elgar's Military March No. 4 in G, Karg-Elert's "Now Thank We All Our God," and Bach's own "Now Thank We,"  Mathias' "Processional," Fauré's "Nocturne" from Shylock, Guilmant's Scherzo from Sonata VIII and thrilling works for Organ and Brass with Organ by Marcel Dupré (Poème Heroique and "Resurrection" from the Symphonie-Passion) and Louis Vierne (Marche Triomphale). This don't-miss program is held in memory of Wally McLean, and concludes the free portion of the day's events.

At night the stars come out with our ticketed Grand Evening Concert featuring Peter Richard Conte with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra under maestro Louis Scaglione in the Capstone Concert of the orchestra's 75th Anniversary Celebration.  Tickets are available HERE! Friends members get a $10 discount for themselves and all those in their party. Pricing ($40 members / $50 nonmembers) is exceptionally reasonable for an organ-orchestra event, so secure your admissions now! This program is presented in memory of Sam Whitcraft.

Special note to shoppers: visitors who stop by Macy's information desk are eligible for special shopping courtesies if they identify themselves as Wanamaker Organ visitors.

Friday (June 5) events include the noon Wanamaker Organ concert, followed by by the opening of the console area and a free tour of the Organ Shop. At 3pm in Greek Hall, Rick Seifert presents the
full version of his exciting audio-visual presentation "The Greatest Musical Wonder in the World: A History of the Grand Court Organ." This acclaimed event is continually being revised and improved with new photos and music. Following that, another Shop Tour is available, and the evening is capped by organ music at 7 pm.

Sunday: Those staying in the area might enjoy going to the Theatre Organ Society of the Delaware Valley's presentation of Ron Rhode at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville PA, at 3 pm. Note corrected start time.

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

The May Wanamaker Organ Hour broadcast on WRTI is being bumped one week to Sunday May 10 at 5 pm, due to an opera overflowing with sturm und drang and spilling into our time slot. Speaking of opera, Peter Richard Conte's exciting new CD 'My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice' is available by clicking HERE. Details are further down this page.

Peter Richard Conte's new CD, My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice, is now available! Featuring Flugelhornist Andrew Ennis, it includes lush and lyrical works by Puccini, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Bizet, Wagner, Percy Granger, Gounod, Saint-Saens, Durufle, Debussy and Robert Hebble.

Those of you who have been clamoring for the easy-listening side of the Wanamaker Organ, chock-full of familiar tunes, will be more than gratified by the gorgeousness of this exciting new release!

Please stop by our webstore or click on the icon at left for details!

WALLY McLEAN, the Friends volunteer extraordinare who played a key role in building the organization over its first 20 years with his tireless activities, passed away Wednesday morning April 1. Wally was 89 and is very much missed. His official memorial site is accessible HERE.


We now have available for immediate shipping the Wanamaker Organ Centennial CD, DVD, and DVD combo at our webstore. 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!  

Writes reviewer Rollin Smith of this CD: "Now you can have in your living room what Alexander Russell described when he heard the Widor Symphonie: 'A Perfect Niagara of sound.'. There is no one in the world as adept at displaying the Wanamaker Organ as Peter Richard Conte, and it shows on this CD. The whole is a thrilling and artisic experience. The orchestra is top-notch, impeccable in its ensemble playing, and gorgeous in its shading. This is one CD not to miss: the combination of organ, organist and orchestra would be hard to beat."

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.

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.

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. An article on the Wanamaker Organ is accessible by clicking the bannker below.

Organ tours continue in January. Secure tickets to our monthly last-Saturday-of-the-month Organ Tours by 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. NOTE: There are no tours in September owing to the Papal visit, and none in November or December because of the Christmas Light Show.

You can help support 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.

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, 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.
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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