Pipe organ marathon and Cinco de Mayo

If someone you love and respect came to you and asked if you’d like to attend a pipe organ marathon, what would your answer be?

Yeah, mine too.

The thing is, once my loved one manages to drag me off to one of these things that I don’t think I’ll like, I find myself enjoying it.

That was the case on Saturday when M and I went into Philadelphia to attend an organ marathon at the Kimmel Center.

I wish I’d taken my camera along because the Kimmel Center is an amazing building. I think I heard there was some controversy about it (cost overruns, delays in completion, as well as locals either loving or hating the design). It was our first time inside the Kimmel Center and I thought it was quite impressive. The acoustics were great, too.

The organ marathon consisted of four soloists over the course of four hours. M and I attended the last two hours as four hours seemed, to me, too much. Two hours was pretty much the right amount of time for such a thing.

Just think, if I hadn’t gone, I’d have never been able to say I heard variations of America by Charles Ives. Ives’ arrangement of this song (which my British friends know as God Save the Queen) received plenty of chuckles and outright laughs when he first played it (sometime around 1891). M and I chuckled and laughed throughout Shelly Moorman-Stahlman’s playing of it. Ives wrote it when he was a teenager and it’s basically a long repetition of the tune done in different keys and styles. It sounds like a kid wrote it.

Moorman-Stahlman played American music during her hour on stage. I very much enjoyed her last two pieces which were more contemporary. Locklair’s The Peace May Be Exchanged was very pretty. Eggert’s Mycenae: Graveshaft V was interesting (you can read about the grave shaft here and about the composer here). This was the premier of Mycenae: Graveshaft V so I can’t find any information about it.

The last soloist was Wesley Parrott who was cheered on throughout his performance by some groupies sitting off to the side (“yay, Wes!”). He played five classical pieces starting with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B Minor. Good stuff.

Ok, ok. I know this is probably not all that interesting to some of you. No doubt someone out there reading has either fallen asleep or had their eyes glaze over as a result of this little review of the organ marathon. But seriously, if you get a chance to listen to a pipe organ being played somewhere, you should do it.

After the organ concert we stopped by Govinda’s, a vegetarian cafe on the corner of South and Broad Streets. A friend recommended it. The food was good. M was talked into ordering the “chicken cheesesteak” which was made with a soy meat substitute. I had a chimichunga made with black beans, rice, and cheese. I’m not a big fan of soy meat substitutes, but if you’re craving a cheesesteak and don’t want to eat meat, Govinda’s is the place to go.

From Philadelphia we made our way to New Jersey to visit with my family. My sister and her husband were having a Cinco de Mayo/Boxing party, the boxing part being the fight between De La Hoya and Mayweather. Boxing is not my cup of tea, but I was up for a Cinco de Mayo celebration with margaritas and fajitas.

As always, it was fun visiting with my family. I had a good time. I skipped the margaritas and had rum and coke instead (but not too much as we had an hour drive home and even though I wouldn’t be driving, I didn’t want to be hanging out the window, puking, during the ride; I’m gettin’ too old for that schtuff). The food was good. I zoomed in on the tacos. It’s been about 30 years since I’ve had a taco in a hard corn shell. M once got sick on them and we haven’t eaten them since. You know how that is. Bad associations and all that.

It was a full, fun, and multicultural Saturday. And believe it or not, I didn’t take one photograph. Not one. I carried the camera with me in the car, but never got it out. I was too busy enjoying the day to be bothered.

In recent news:  Yesterday was M the Younger’s birthday.  He’s now 22 years old.  Although we phoned and said this, for the blog record:  Happy Birthday, M!  I’m glad the final you had to take on your birthday was easy.


3 Comments on “Pipe organ marathon and Cinco de Mayo”

  1. English Nutter says:

    I really enjoyed this entry. 🙂 Now I’m going to trawl the internet to see if I can find this “America” so I can listen to it.
    All this food description makes me drool.

  2. Christian says:

    Glad you were open-minded enough to attend the recital.

    If you think the organ at the Kimmel Center is good, you should check out some other venues. I find Kimmel’s organ to be bland at best and certainly not worthy of the money spent on it. Full review at my blog, if you’re interested.

    I have not yet written my reviews of the performers, but I can tell you that Wesley Parrott’s rendition of Durufle’s Prelue and Fuge on ALAIN was one of the saddest public performances I’ve heard in a while. If you were watching closely, he actually had a train wreck about eight measures in, removed his hands entirely from the keyboards, and started over. He still only barely managed to hold the piece together. I’m not from Philly, but in NYC you don’t get “do-overs”!!! A performer of his apparent stature should know better than to attempt such a difficult and popular piece if he isn’t absolutely confident about it. That he was given a standing ovation by many in the crowd after this piece is evidence that unsophisticated listeners will enjoy anything that ends with a bang.

    Still, I’m glad you went and enjoyed!

  3. […] that his interest in pipe organs is what really drew him to this event.  (For more on that, see this post.)  But I think he just wanted to see the inside of a Masonic Temple.  And if I’m being […]


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