Opera Philadelphia to Celebrate City’s Pipe Organs with ‘Organ Stops’ Concert

By Logan Martell

On July 16, 2021, Opera Philadelphia will team up with Partners for Sacred places for a new program celebrating the city’s historic pipe organs as part of this year’s Organ Day.

Titled “Organ Stops,” the program will feature new and traditional music performed at three churches in the city: Manayunk’s St. John the Baptist Church, Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church in Cobbs Creek, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Germantown. The program will also include the pairing of traditional opera choruses from Verdi’s “Macbeth” and Wagner’s “Tannhauser” with new works for the chorus and organ by composers Hannah Kendall, Melissa Dunphy, Marcus DeLoach, and David Hurd.

The performances are conducted by OP Chorus Master Elizabeth Braden, with Meghan Meloy Ness and Marvin Mills accompanying the Opera Philadelphia Chorus on the organs.

“These composers span different centuries, different cultures, different genders, and different world views, and these differences inform everything from their compositional style to the texts they chose to set,” Braden said. “Both a pipe organ and a chorus are a collection of individual voices and unique sounds, which are combined to create new colors, new musical ideas, and offer new ways to hear poetry. This program features three different pipe organs, found in three different Philadelphia churches. Each instrument, and each building, is unique, but each allows for music to fill its space, for poetry to be heard in new ways, for our minds and souls to stretch as we sing, listen, and observe.”

“Organ Stops” was filmed and edited by Rec. Today, and recorded by Paul Vasquez of Digital Mission Audio Services. It will be available to stream for free on Opera Philadelphia Channel for one year following release.