Kimmel Center Celebrates Organ's First Anniversary with Marathon on May 5

Classic Arts News   Kimmel Center Celebrates Organ's First Anniversary with Marathon on May 5
Just this time last year, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia inaugurated the new Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, the largest concert-hall instrument in the U.S. To celebrate, the Philadelphia Orchestra brought in the titular organist from Notre Dame in Paris for an organ-and-orchestra spectacular, and the Kimmel presented a five-organist, five-hour marathon concert.

Critics came from far and wide — here are some of their reactions:

"A versatile 6,938-pipe beast with a wide tonal palette and enough heft to compete with a symphony orchestra at full throttle."
- Barbara Jepson, Wall Street Journal

"Its gleaming silver pipes soar more than three stories above the stage, and its voice rises from subtle to booming."
- Randy Pennell, The Associated Press

"It's a sweet, mellow-sounding instrument, made that way to blend well with the famed Philadelphia strings."
Sarah Bryan Miller, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"[It] can do just about anything. Outgun the Philadelphia Orchestra, for one. This baby can crank up the volume to bone-tingling effect."
- Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

"The Kimmel organ timbres tend toward a soft but firm core that's also transparent enough to happily collaborate with the Philadelphia Orchestra ... It's a sound that exudes confidence in its own personality — with power that somehow never lapses into ear-bursting loudness."
- David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Lest one doubt that a pipe organ can be popular: When the console was rolled out for the Poulenc concerto, the audience spontaneously applauded. The organist hadn't even stepped onto the stage yet."
- Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Now that the "beast" is reaching its first birthday, the Kimmel is celebrating with another organ marathon, tomorrow in Verizon Hall.

The festivities start at 11:30 a.m. with a family concert: organist Alan Morrison and Rodney Mack's Philadelphia Big Brass get together to play a program ranging from the back-and-forth volleys of Gabrieli to Rossini's Barber of Seville Overture to the "2001" movement from Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra to Bill Conti's Fanfare from Rocky. Tickets are $20.

The Organ Recital Marathon gets underway at 1 p.m. Four soloists will be taking turns at the console: Sean Jackson, Matthew Glandorf, Shelly Moorman-Stahlman and Wesley Parrott. The musical smorgasbord offers Bach, of course, and the French Romantics (Widor, Durufl_, Tournemire), but some surprises as well: William Walton's Crown Imperial March, for example, and Charles Ives's Variations on "America." Glandorf will play what he calls "A Series of Improvised Portraits" — a Praeludium in the Style of Dietrich Buxtehude, a Sonata in the Style of Edward Elgar, and a Symphonic Improvisation in French Style on the old Gregorian hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus."

Tickets for the Marathon are $20; a limited number of $10 rush tickets will be available tomorrow morning before the concert, beginning at 11:30 a.m. More information is available at

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