The festival will begin with a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra and will include a marathon of solo organ performances, an appearance by the Pittsburgh Symphony, and screenings of silent film with organ accompaniment.
The center also announced that it has appointed Michael Barone, an organ expert and the host of the public-radio program Pipe Dreams, to advise it on the use of the organ.
According to the Kimmel Center, the instrument is the largest concert hall organ in the United States. It includes 6,938 pipes, the smallest of which is the size of a drinking straw; the largest is two feet square and 32 feet in length. Its total weight is approximately 32 tons.
The Philadelphia Orchestra will inaugurate the organ with sold-out concerts on May 11, 12, and 13 conducted by music director Christoph Eschenbach and featuring organist Olivier Latry. The program includes the world premiere of Gerald Levinson's Toward Light, which was commissioned for the occasion; Barber's Toccata festiva; Poulenc's Organ Concerto; and Saint-SaêŠns' Symphony No. 3 ("Organ").
On May 13, organist Marvin Mills, Alan Morrison, Cameron Carpenter, Diane Meredith Belcher, and Gordon Turk will play a five-hour concerts featuring works by Chopin, Bach, Frank, Shostakovich, and others.
Other events include a performance by the Philadelphia Singers on May 14; Philadelphia Orchestra concerts on May 17, 19, and 20; family and student concerts on May 20 and 26; a visit by the Pittsburgh Symphony on May 25; and screenings of Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush and the 1920 version of The Mark of Zorro with Douglas Fairbank Sr. on May 21. On May 20, following the family concert, children will get a chance to view the organ up-close; that afternoon, members of the public will have the opportunity to play the organ, at $25 for one minute and $75 for five minutes.
For more information, visit www.kimmelcenter.org/organ.