Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Flash Hallelujah

On our recent trip to Philadelphia, Terese and I weren't aware that we should have stopped  at Macy's to check out their amazing and historical pipe organ. This from the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ website:

Built by the Los Angeles Art Organ Company for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the Wanamaker Organ was designed by renowned organ architect George Ashdown Audsley, author of The Art of Organ-Building. This heroic instrument had more than 10,000 pipes, and its construction was on such a lavish scale that costs soared to $105,000, bankrupting the builder.
In 1909, Philadelphia merchant-prince John Wanamaker bought the instrument for his new Philadelphia emporium. Thirteen freight cars were required to ship the entire organ from St. Louis, and installation took two years. The Grand Organ was first heard in the Store's seven-story atrium on June 22, 1911, at the exact moment when England's King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Later that year, it was prominently featured when President William Howard Taft dedicated the Store.
Drat. This would have been absolutely wonderful to see and hear, since it is played twice daily six days a week. Well. Now we must take another trip back to Philly someday.

Today I found out that we missed out on another fabulous experience in Philadelphia, although it would have meant that we would have had to stay in town for another week. This from the Opera Company of Philadelphia's website:
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia kicked off National Opera Week by partnering with Macy’s and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to produce one of Knight Foundation’s “Random Acts of Culture” on a grand scale in Philadelphia.  
With the Opera Company of Philadelphia Chorus as a core, over 600 singers from area choirs, accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ – the world’s largest pipe organ – surprised shoppers at the Center City Philadelphia Macy’s with a spontaneous rendition of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. 

Before Sjogren's dryness changed my vocal cords, I used to participate in a choir that included the Messiah every year as part of it's season of performances. I miss singing so much, which is not to say that I was really good. Ah, but being an active member of two choirs was such a rewarding hobby.

When Terese sent me this YouTube video of the Philadelphia "Random Acts of Culture" Messiah Hallelujah Chorus, I sang - er - croaked along with a few little tears rolling down my cheeks. How I wish that I could have been present in Macy's seven story atrium singing my heart out with my pre-Sjogren's voice.

After many years of performing the Messiah, I remember every word and every note.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Julia, for the lovely gift. It's my annual "GOOSE BUMP Time...after hearing the
first performance of Handel's Messiah every holiday seson, I am so overjoyed and filled with all sorts of emotions! Every year a new place; sometimes at a church service or a university choir's Christmas concert, sometimes on the car radio on my way to work, and the most memorable of all my "first hearings" was several years ago when we were in Germany visiting my daugfhter and grandkids. We had just arrived at the Chriskrindlemarkt on a beautiful snowy evening and the Messiah rang out through the air from a church right on the town square. Wow! It was awesome. The voices surrounding me weren't all perfect as they were in this video you sent, but then they weren't all pro's or choir members either. But...we all sang our hearts out, each in his own language and each person appearing just as moved as I was. Now, the memory of hearing and seeing this lovely HUGE choir and awesome pipe organ even though it was just a video....will be among my Christmas memories. Thanks SO much for sharing. I'm so sorry too that you missed the opera company and the organ. Next time??? Happy weekend. Reba

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing. I can't imagine being at a mall and getting that kind of experience. Karen