It happened today that a group of good friends and I were in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. After finishing a tour of Independence Hall, Justin, Jon, Ben, Patrick, and I hurried over to Macy’s (catching a bite to eat at a cheesesteak stand along the way) to listen to the famous Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest operating organ. Unfortunately, having not been told the correct time, we missed the organ recital. Suppressing emotions of disappointment and wondering what to do with ourselves, we decided to go upstairs and see the six-keyboard organ consol before we left. Fortunately, our luck was about to change.. Hunched over the keys and twiddling with the stops was a gentleman tuning up a few of the pipes. Knowing we needed new plans, I asked the man if we could come up and see the consol up close. He agreed, and, after answering a few general questions and showing us a few functions of the consol, he asked us if we were interested in the mechanics of the organ. Not realizing what he was really offering us, we almost said no to him and went back to the hotel. Of course, once we understood what he was asking, we excitedly said yes. We were given the opportunity to do take a private, personalized, up-close tour of the world’s largest organ! The door to the organ was camouflaged in a wall, and to get to it we had to wade through rows of women’s clothing, but we made it through without stopping. Walking through the door was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. We went from clean, bright, and modern to a dark old room that hadn’t changed since the organ was built in the first half of the 20th
For the next hour, we were guided up and down ladders, between giant tubes, along narrow catwalks, and through whole rooms stuffed with pipes from the size of straws to giant trees. It is amazing to think that all 29,000 pipes—most of which we didn’t see—were all part of one giant instrument controlled by ten fingers, two feet, and one brain!
--Forrest Craig, ‘11
Work commenced this morning at 9:30 with rehearsal in the hotel. We have almost all of our music memorized now, which is a real plus for the overall quality of the music we present. The T-tones are now ready to perform “Happy Together” for the first time (yes, that “Happy Together”). That being said, I was a little nervous about that going into tonight’s concert.
In the afternoon a small group of us went to hear the Wanamaker Organ. You can read all about that in Forrest’s entry. There’s a big difference from entering a department store and hearing Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift to hearing Brahms, Bach, and Mozart coming out of those enormous pipes.
We also got to sing a couple numbers today in the Kimmell Center’s symphonic hall. Not on stage or anything, just from the seats while taking a guided tour. But it was neat to be in such a beautiful space, just opened in 2001, dedicated to doing, on a much larger scale, what I see as a vital part of even our mission. Philadelphia is a place that takes music seriously, and it’s really good to be here and be a part of that.
Our concert at Rosemont Village went well. A solid performance all around, and as always a very appreciative audience. Actually, even more appreciative than we normally have. I had a couple residents come and ask me where they could buy our CD! It’s great to be out on the road, sharing the gift of song with the world. Only one more concert to go!
-- Royce V. Gregerson, ’09
Top: Ben Harvill explores the Wannamaker Organ
Middle: Just a few of the 29,000 pipes
Bottom: A little pre-concert warmup