OHS 2016 trip report

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26850
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

OHS 2016 trip report

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 3:55 am

Organ Historical Society 2016 Philadelphia trip report.

First, apologies to my long-suffering friends on the Board of Trustees of the Stony Creek Free Library. I had no idea that this would knock me out the way it has done. Fortunately, I will miss next year in Minneapolis, and I can drive to Rochester in 2018. Philadelphia is quite another matter when it comes to organs.

The greatest organs

On the itinerary were literally the two largest organs in the world, neither of which is in a church. The Wanamaker organ (the department store is now a Macy's) is in perfect repair, but we were there until 11:00 for the excellent recital. (A typical day ran from 8:00 a.m. Until 10:00 p.m with breaks only for meals). The Boardwalk Hall organ in Atlantic City (where they used to hold the Miss America competition), is literally the largest organ in the world, though they only have about 30% of it up and running. The goal is to have it completely operative by 2023. As it stands, it is already a drop-dead impressive instrument. The organ at Longwood Gardens, merely the fifth largest we visited, is also famous and in perfect repair. Ordinarily, on the iteneraray there are organs of only historic value played adequately with minor programs. Not in or near Philadelphia, where we heard one recital-quality program after another for days on end.

Repertory

J.S. Bach is by far the greatest composer for the organ there ever was, but we heard little of him. He is generally out of recital fashion. An exception was the Passacaglia and Fugue, and I knew we were in for trouble when the organist started out with organo pleno. This is historically authentic, but who in his right mind would play it that way when it cries out for registration variation? Then by pure coincidence we heard the “Dorian” Toccata and Fugue twice in the same day. (The organists do not check with each other to decide their programs.) The performance at Boardwalk Hall was excellent if at the same time showing that this is not mainly an organ for playing Bach. The fugue was played pleno throughout, as in this case it should be. The performance in the evening at St. Mark's Episcopal Church used an inappropriate and old-fashioned registration crescendo in the fugue. Unfortunately, this closing recital of the convention was the only disappointing one, for several reasons I won't go into.

It is a Reger anniversary, though not well observed, so there were a number of successful perforances of his stern but excellent music. Messiaen turned up once in selections I had not heard before and that were superior to much of what I already know by him. That about ends the list of composers anyone of general musical knowledge would have heard of. The rest are specialized, but I must say that the best recital of all was at Irvine Hall on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. There was both spectacular virtuosity and imaginative programming, and I would like to think that even my fastidious friend whose initials are KK would have enjoyed it.

The Kimmel Center

Sadly, this was one of the few disappointments. It seems we were there on the 60th anniversary of OHS as well as an important anniversary of the organ there. Fred Haas, who was an important figure throughout the convention, apparently paid for this organ,, which does in fact mar the beautiful space in which it is located, but so what? Nothing can gainsay the hall, a spectacular performance space if ever there was one. The opening number was a world premiere for organ and percussion which deserves to be heard again and to be recorded. But the main feature was a ridiculous juxtaposition of badly acted Hamlet with composed pieces of dubious quality. It is the only time that my traveling companion Bob and I chose to take a cab back to the hotel during intermission rather than endure the length of it. A straight organ recital would have been much preferable.
Last edited by jbuck919 on Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

karlhenning
Composer-in-Residence
Posts: 9801
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:12 am
Location: Boston, MA
Contact:

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by karlhenning » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:24 am

jbuck919 wrote:... But the main feature was a ridiculous juxtaposition of badly acted Hamlet with composed pieces of dubious quality. It is the only time that my traveling companion Bob and I chose to take a cab back to the hotel during intermission rather than endure the length of it. A straight organ recital would have been much preferable.
Ghastly!

Otherwise, delighted to read your report, John.

Cheers,
~k.
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

lennygoran
Posts: 14044
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:59 am

jbuck919 wrote:Organ Historical Society 2016 Philadelphia trip report.

First, apologies to my long-suffering friends on the Board of Trustees of the Stony Creek Free Library. I had no idea that this would knock me out the way it has done. Fortunately, I will miss next year in Minneapolis, and I can drive to Rochester in 2018. Philadelphia is quite another matter when it comes to organs. The Wanamaker organ -- The Boardwalk Hall organ in Atlantic City--The organ at Longwood Gardens
Thanks for the report-we've seen and heard 2 of the organs but never the Boardwalk Hall one even though we've been to Atlantic city fairly often and even stayed at Trump's Taj Mahal several times. I don't understand about the part that says "First, apologies to my long-suffering friends on the Board of Trustees of the Stony Creek Free Library. I had no idea that this would knock me out the way it has done." Regards, Len

Ricordanza
Posts: 1735
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by Ricordanza » Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:44 am

jbuck919 wrote: ...this organ, which does in fact mar the beautiful space in which it is located, but so what? Nothing can gainsay the hall, a spectacular performance space if ever there was one.
Thanks for your report, John. I am surprised, however, that you felt that the organ marred the beauty of Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center. To each his own, I guess, but I think the organ pipes at the front serve as a striking focal point for the hall.

I'd post a picture for all to see if I had the time and know-how to do so.

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26850
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:55 am

lennygoran wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:Organ Historical Society 2016 Philadelphia trip report.

First, apologies to my long-suffering friends on the Board of Trustees of the Stony Creek Free Library. I had no idea that this would knock me out the way it has done. Fortunately, I will miss next year in Minneapolis, and I can drive to Rochester in 2018. Philadelphia is quite another matter when it comes to organs. The Wanamaker organ -- The Boardwalk Hall organ in Atlantic City--The organ at Longwood Gardens
Thanks for the report-we've seen and heard 2 of the organs but never the Boardwalk Hall one even though we've been to Atlantic city fairly often and even stayed at Trump's Taj Mahal several times. I don't understand about the part that says "First, apologies to my long-suffering friends on the Board of Trustees of the Stony Creek Free Library. I had no idea that this would knock me out the way it has done." Regards, Len
I'm the President of the Board and was supposed to be at the fund-raising concession stand last night, but I am still catching up on sleep from the convention. I check the time now and can barely believe that it is about 7:45 on Wednesday morning. I'm not getting any younger, you know. I managed church on Sunday morning but then reverted to catch-up mode. Pulling myself together for normality today. To Hank (Ricrodanza), the organ is beautiful and I should have extended my comments, because there was some controversy about its placement. The problem is that it could not be placed any other way in that hall. Geffem Hall has no such "excuse" and should simply be planning to have an organ again, which does not seem to be in the works.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 19918
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: OHS 2016 trip report

Post by John F » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:59 am

Image
John Francis

lennygoran
Posts: 14044
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:04 am

Ricordanza wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:

I'd post a picture for all to see if I had the time and know-how to do so.
Henry here are some: Regards, Len

Image

Image

Image

lennygoran
Posts: 14044
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:07 am

jbuck919 wrote:> I managed church on Sunday morning but then reverted to catch-up mode. Pulling myself together for normality today.
Ah thanks-now I understand. On not getting any younger today Sue and I will stay indoors for the most part-90 degree temps--all garden activities are suspended! Regards, Len :lol:

John F
Posts: 19918
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: OHS 2016 trjl report

Post by John F » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:50 am

jbuck919 wrote:Geffem Hall has no such "excuse" and should simply be planning to have an organ again, which does not seem to be in the works.
I've heard nothing one way or the other. Most likely it depends on whether some rich person donates the money to build it from scratch, which would be plenty. If so, and word gets out, then I expect it would be incorporated into the project.
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 5643
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: OHS 2016 trip report

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:52 am

JohnB:

Thanks from me also for your report. I had no idea that the organ in the Kimmel Center was so controversial. It's been recorded in all its glory by Eschenbach and the Philadelphians in the recording below for those who are interested:

Image


As for the Wanamaker (now Macy's) organ, I grew up CHristmas shopping in that store, and the light show coupled with the organ-playing haunts me to this day as one of my happiest childhood memories. For those whoare interested, Virgil Fox recorded a recital on the instrument:

Image

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26850
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: OHS 2016 trip report

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:35 pm

The specification (list of stops, etc.) for each organ is issued in the convention guide book. For the Wanamaker, it takes two pages. For the Atlantic City organ, they didn't even try. The great organist and organ composer Marcel Dupré always found time for his favorite organ in the world (Wanamaker) when he visited the US. Believe me, no one was more astonished than I was to find out that the Kimmell Hall organ was largely the gift of a single rich individual. Fred Haas was with us throughout the cycle of performances. He is a very wealthy man of my own age without pretense. He just loves the organ. He donated his ancestral home as the new HQ of OHS. He is very approachable, indeed invites conversation with ordinary folk like me.

There is a second very large organ at Boardwalk. It is a fabulous theatre organ (not the only one we heard) that has a mere five manuals rather than seven. The official organist of the place played an accompaniment to a silent film from 1929 starring Buster Keaton. Yes, a week to remember, and don't be surprised if I continue to bore you with stories of it. (The fourth largest theatre organ in the world, which is bigger than the one in Radio City Music Hall, is in a high school in Delaware.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Google [Bot] and 33 guests