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MMD > Archives > March 2000 > 2000.03.23 > 06Prev  Next

Carlo Curley concert at Wanamakers, April 29 2000
By Karl Ellison

The April 2000 edition of "The American Organist" magazine, page 89,
shows that Carlo Curley will be giving a free admission concert on
Saturday, April 29 2000 at 2:30pm on the Grand Court Organ of the
Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia - presently run as a
Lord & Taylors.

This special event is intended to showcase the newly restored Echo and
Ethereal divisions, and recent console renovations.

"Built by the Los Angeles Art Organ company for the 1904 St. Louis
World's Fair, the Wanamaker Organ was designed George Ashdown Ausdley,
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. Later that year, it was featured when President William
Howard Taft dedicated the store.

"Despite its immense size, the tone was judged inadequate to fill the
huge court. Wanamaker's opened a private pipe-organ factory in the store
attic, employing about 40 full-time employees to enlarge the instrument.
William Boone Gleming, the original factory supervisor, was hired to
direct the work.  Lavish construction and elegant workmanship made the
Wanamaker Organ a tonal wonder and a monument to superb craftsmanship.
The largest pipe is made of flawless Oregon sugar-pine three inches
thick and over 32 feet long--so large that a Shetland Pony was once
posed inside for publicity photos. The smallest pipe is a quarter-inch
in length. More than 8,000 pipes were added to the organ between 1911
and 1917, and from 1924 to 1930 an additional 10,000 pipes were
installed, bringing the total number of pipes today to 28,000.
Commanding these huge resources is a massive console with six ivory
keyboards and 729 color-coded stop tablets. There are 168 piston
buttons under the keyboard and 42 foot controls. The console weighs
2.5 tons; the entire organ weighs 287 tons.

"Now a National Historic Landmark and valued in excess of $50 million,
the Wanamaker Organ is of the American Symphonic design, which can play
the great organ masterworks, as well as the entire range of orchestral
literature. The pipework encompasses the resources of three symphony
orchestras; its String Organ alone has 8,000 pipes. "

I've booked a cheapo flight from Boston just to attend momentous
occasion. I certainly hope that everyone in the area will attend.
Write to me and we'll meet up. I'm sure the concert and tours will be

Karl Ellison

(Message sent Thu 23 Mar 2000, 17:54:53 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  2000, 29, April, Carlo, concert, Curley, Wanamakers

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