Photo: Jessica Kourkounis NYT                                                                Alternate (CD Photo source)        

The Concert of the "Century"
The Wanamaker Organ with the Philadelphia Orchestra
By "Century", it means the time spanning almost a century; between the Wanamaker Organ's
original commissioning in June of 1911, and the concert year, 2008 (97 years, 3 months)!

This wonderful live concert took place on Saturday night, September 27, 2008.
Location: Macy's center city Philadelphia, Pa store.

It was recorded; and NOW is released by Gothic!! 
Check it out!!: "A Grand Celebration"
It is fantastic-a MUST HAVE CD for fans of the greatest and largest pipe organ in the world!!
Get the CD NOW from the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ website !!!
Note: The CD includes the Jongen piece, and two other selections.

Program of selections actually played in the concert:

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - J.S. Bach.
Cortege et Litanie (Opus 19, No. 2 )-  Marcel Dupre.
Fanfare - Howard Shore (World Premiere-commissioned by Macy's). (Video of practice)
Symphonie Concertante - in 4 movements- Joseph Jongen:
I. Allegro: Molto moderato
II. Divertimento: Molto Vivo
III. Lento Misterioso-Appassionato Tempo I
IV. Toccata (Moto Perpetuo): Allegro Moderato.
 Pomp and Circumstance - Sir Edward Elgar.
(Military March in D Major -opus 39, No. 1)
 Happy Birthday Macy's - impromptu, partial orchestra & organ with dropping confetti !!

Organist: Peter Richard Conte, (Grand Court's 4th).

Conductor: Rossen Milanov, The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The practice session has been captured by camera, as well.

History surrounding the significance of this concert:

The "Symphonie Concertante Op 81" was especially commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker in 1926,
intended to be played after the 3rd expansion of the Wanamaker Grand Court Pipe Organ to
its approximate present size of 461 ranks, 28,482 pipes controlled by a 6-manual console.
The concert premiere was originally scheduled to take place in early part of 1928 with the
Philadelphia Orchestra, which was to  be conducted at that time by  Leopold Stokowski.
For a number of reasons, including the death of Rodman Wanamaker, and the later
deterioration of the Wanamaker Organ, the concert was ultimately "scrapped".

Recordings of the Jongen Symphonie Concertante:

The BEST VERSION: The one in the venue that composer Joseph Jongen INTENDED:

"A Grand Celebration: Philadelphia Orchestra live with the Wanamaker Organ"
Gothic Records # G-49270, released 01/04/2010.
Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, 461 ranks, 6 manuals, 28,482 pipes!!!
Organist: Peter Richard Conte, 4th Grand Court Organist in it's 99 year history.
Conductor: Rossen Milanov, Assoc. Conductor, Philadelphia Orchestra.
LIVE Recording, Sept. 27, 2008. Length, not including the additional selections: 41:40 mins/sec.
This concert, finally played, 82 years after Jongen completed the composition!
The organ was in fantastic playable condition that night!
What a GREAT Recording, the quality meets my highest expectations!!!!
(With the usual excellence in professional recording by James Stempke and others!)

NOTE: "Nightscribe" attended this concert, and was completely thrilled by the lifetime experience; calls it:
The (Classical Concert) of the Century !!!!

Recordings made at Unintended Venues:

The Jongen Symphony has been played later, by 'unintended venue' orchestras, originally in
Brussels, Belgium; then in Paris, France; and Ingolstadt, Germany), followed by
San Francisco, California, of the United States of America.  It was played also
at Carnegie Hall, in NY; however I was unable to identify whether a recording was
made in NY; and if so, who the organist and/or orchestra and conductor was for that occasion.

Some famous Organists who have played this Symphony before its
INTENDED premiere in the Grand Court include the following:

Virgil Fox,
Olivier Latry,
Michael Murray,
Hubert Schoonbroodt,
Franz Hauk,
Pierre Pincemaille,
Diane Meredith Belcher,
Hubert Schoonbroodt,
Ulrich Meldau,
Patrick Wedd,
Jean Guillou. 

CDs featuring the above organists:
CD/s with the Jongen Symphonie Concertante (Unintended venue):

Wanamaker Restoration Highlights:

After a very long and significant restoration effort conducted by the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ,
with support from previous store owner Lord and Taylor, then from its current owner Macy's, the
Wanamaker Grand Court Organ was readied to play the intended premiere of the 'Jongen Symphony'
with its intended resources: The Philadelphia Orchestra WITH the Grand Court Organ!. 

As part of the later stages of restoration, some major improvements were made to the Organ that
would  not have been present if the concert took place when intended.  Some are:

1. Accoustical improvement adding reverb to the Grand Court-unintended-but it really
               livened up the sound projection and quality-by the installation of transparent glass
panels at the upper level store elevations, surrounding the court perimeter.

2. Relocation of the 37 rank Orchestral Division to its own chamber especially constructed
by the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Symposium organ restoration team on the
fourth floor, Juniper Street side of the Grand Court, led by Chief Curator Curt Mangel.
This team conducted all of the restoration activities, except for some pipework sent to
 certain organ pipe refinishing specialists for the much-needed refurbishments.

3. Relocation of the nine Vox Humana Chorus ranks (plus a tenth donated rank)
to a set of chests installed just behind the "facade", so they can be heard better.

4. Refinishing of the Wanamaker Organ Console - wiring, keyboards, stop tablets,
pneumatics, relays, and other interior parts of the six-manual console; plus
a beautiful refinishing of the exterior woodwork, to complete the project.

The concert finally took place as part of Macy's 150'th anniversary
celebration year, thus ending a very long wait of over 80 years!

There was a great crowd in attendance!!  Everyone there; including me and some
of my family membership, are very fortunate indeed to have taken advantage of
the rare opportunity to be present for this magnificent and uniquely historic
"Concert-of-the-Century";  co-played by both the world's largest playable
pipe organ, and one of the world's very greatest orchestras (historically).

I am very proud and grateful of the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, and Macy's,
for the superior ownership and care management of the Wanamaker Organ,
and for it's great work to promote great "Music in the Marketplace".(*)
This concert could have never happened without this teamwork effort.

(*) "Music in the Marketplace" is the name of a "MUST READ" book that
I recommend very highly!!   It covers a "comprehensive-as-possible" history
of the Wanamaker Organ, written by Mr. Ray Biswanger, President  of the
Friends of the Wanamaker Organ.   It is Required Reading on that instrument.
You can get it from their "Webstore" today, if you haven't read it before!!



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