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The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ
Verizon Hall
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Op. 76

Organ Press Quotes


“And it does create a glorious ruckus, yet one that—to judge from the blast that opened the finale of Saint-Saens’s Third Symphony on Friday—the hall can comfortably contain.”

“After each evening's concert Mr. Latry played a solo postlude: on Friday virtuosic pieces by Franck, Charles-Marie Widor and Louis Vierne. His deftness of hand and foot, and his acute ear in mixing registrations and colorations only enhanced a favorable impression of both his playing and the instrument.”

—James R. Oestreich, May 12, 2006


“Apprehension toward the unknown set in during the preliminary speeches Thursday at the debut concert of the $6.4 million Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ. After years of the long-installed organ console looking a bit like a small Egyptian tomb in Verizon Hall's Conductors Circle, the keyboards were finally connected to a huge, behind-the-scenes apparatus that promises to begin a new era for Philadelphia's pride-steeped classical music community.”

“The Kimmel organ timbres tend toward a soft but firm core that's also transparent enough to happily collaborate with the Philadelphia Orchestra, but without bombast. It's a sound that exudes confidence in its own personality—with power that somehow never lapses into ear-bursting loudness (though there were easily fixed balance problems between organ and orchestra).”

“As with souffles, Saint-Saëns' ingredients aren't intrinsically interesting, but Eschenbach inflected them in poetically riveting ways, pitting them against one another with all sorts of tension instead of the safe, all-purpose mellifluousness that's most often heard in the piece. Every entrance by an orchestral section felt like an event that upped the stakes. Overhead microphones were on and tape recorders were rolling. And if this performance is well-captured on disc, it will be a case of lightning in a bottle.”

—David Patrick Stearns, May 13, 2006


“Philadelphia Orchestra debuts organ to sold-out crowd”

“The first public note on the new Fred J. Cooper organ was played by Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, who clambered onto the console bench to sound the tune-up Thursday night before a sold-out crowd.

“Then Olivier Latry, organist of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, launched the new Kimmel Center instrument. Its sounds ranged from whisper soft to grandly majestic to a bone-liquefying bass roar.

“Orchestra conductor Christoph Eschenbach led a newly commissioned piece by Swarthmore composer Gerald Levinson, Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva and the Poulenc Organ Concerto, with the Barber involving plenty of terpsichorean footwork from the French musician.

“Latry played the first half on the portable console placed on the floor, then moved to the fixed keyboard high above and behind the orchestra for the flowing Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. The resonance and combined acoustic of the instrument was thrilling, and the audience responded with an immediate standing ovation. After the audience drifted downstairs, Latry rewarded them with three solo encores.”

—Tom DiNardo, May 13, 2006


“Olivier Latry, organist of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and soloist in all four programmed works, served notice of his interpretive flair and of the instrument’s expansive decibel capability. The latter was in evidence again in Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, eclipsing somewhat the work’s neo-classical element. With the Saint-Saëns, one was grateful for the extended opportunities to enjoy the Philadelphians on their own, particularly given Christoph Eschenbach’s scrupulously defined reading. The organ’s fourth- movement outbursts were predictably stunning, but I was especially struck by the unobtrusive way that the instrument supplied bass support for orchestral discourse in the slow movement.”

—George Loomis, May 15, 2006


“...the most memorable performance of the evening was the Saint-Saëns. Mr. Eschenbach’s conducting had sweep, tender feeling and a distinct point of view. In the pensive poco adagio, the organ blended beautifully with the orchestra, underlying its expansive theme.”

—Barbara Jepson, May 18, 2006


“Barber displays the organist as a soloist in a spectacular score abounding in rich melodies and striking orchestral colors. Combining with the thrilling sound of the orchestra, the organ delivered a spectrum of sound, from a whisper to a roar.”

“After intermission, Latry moved from the electronic console on the stage to the mechanical-action keyboard placed in the orchestra tier above the stage. Saint-Saens’ “Organ” Symphony displayed the rich sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s strings as well as the immense impact of the organ.”

—Robert Baxter, May 15, 2006


“It’s a sweet, mellow-sounding instrument, made that way to blend well with the famed Philadelphia strings. It’s visually arresting, between the way the display pipes have been arranged above the stage, and in its two consoles.”

—Sarah Bryan Miller, May 15, 2006


“With 6,938 pipes and 32 tons worth of structure and equipment, the $6.4 million organ unveiled at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia can do just about anything. Outgun the Philadelphia Orchestra, for one. This baby can crank up the volume to bone-tingling effect.”

“Fittingly, the concert included Samuel Barber's grandly sweeping Toccata festiva, a 1960 piece composed for a newly purchased portable organ at the Philadelphia Orchestra's old home, the ornate Academy of Music. To hear Latry charge through this showy score—the peak came in the extended cadenza for pedals, which had the organist's feet flying with manic energy and extraordinary clarity—was to hear the whole point of installing such a massive, state-of-the-art instrument in the concert hall. You just can't get that kind of ear-wallop any other way.”

“The playing, especially in the expansively shaped slow movement, (Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3) had a deep glow. (The center's acoustics, much maligned in the press in 2001, strike me as more respectable every time I visit.)”

“The installation proves the wisdom of planning for an organ from the start when building a concert hall, and the invaluable rewards of seeing it through.”

—Tim Smith, May 21, 2006


“Technically speaking, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performed at the Kimmel Center here Thursday night on its ‘Great Orchestras on Tour’ series. But it couldn't help getting in on the fun surrounding the mammoth new pipe organ.”

“How could it not, with the glorious instrument—all 32 tons and 6,938 pipes of it—hanging tantalizingly above the stage of Verizon Hall?”

“The impressive instrument is the latest entry in a remarkable recent renaissance for the American concert organ.”

“It’s also visually awe-inspiring, its pipes hanging in a maple “picture frame” from the balconies behind the orchestra.”

“Lest one doubts 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.”

“The buzz has been that it is the perfect sound for the lush strings of the hall’s main tenant, the Philadelphia Orchestra, but it certainly also complemented the PSO. Just to let us know what the organ sounds like when “fully operational,” Brillhart returned for an improvisatory postlude performance that shook the hall at times.”

“A top organ certainly has enhanced Verizon Hall.”

—Andrew Druckenbrod, May 27, 2006


“Mozart famously hailed the organ as "the King of Instruments." Yet even those words pale when describing the massive new pipe organ at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Inaugurated last month with great fanfare and a two-week series of concerts featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and noted organ soloists, the $6.3 million Fred J. Cooper Memorial organ is the largest concert hall organ in this country.

Weighing in at 32 tons and with nearly 7,000 pipes and 125 ranks, the instrument has taken nine years for Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa, to build. Its attractive façade of glistening metal pipes, framed by maple wood, towers above the stage of Verizon Hall, the Kimmel Center's auditorium. Visually, it fits elegantly with the hall's mahogany and red velvet interior.

And the sound? For the organ's first official concert, seats shook during a thunderous performance of Saint-Saëns' "Organ" Symphony and works by Samuel Barber, Francis Poulenc and Gerald Levinson, played by the Philadelphia Orchestra and organist Olivier Latry.”

—Matthew Erikson, June 11, 2006

Links to Organ Articles & Reviews

Some newspapers archive their stories only for a short time. Those citations without links are listed here as a matter of record.

Verizon Hall’s Cooper pipe organ is set to debut
By Tom Di Nardo
The Philadelphia Daily News, May 5, 2006

Pipe dream come true
The much-anticipated Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ makes its Kimmel Center debut in a big way this week.
By David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirier, May 7, 2006

Coronation of a king
Kimmel Center crowns America's largest concert-hall organ
By Philip A. Metzger
The Allentown Morning Call, May 7, 2006

The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ
A Quicktime video feature from WHYY’s Arts & Culture Service.
Scroll down to view link.

Organ Debuts at Kimmel Center
WPVI-TV, 6ABC, May 11, 2006

The power of the glory
By S. James Wegg

James Wegg Review, May 12, 2006

New Kimmel organ keys on rare work
Mannes College orchestra will perform David Raksin's ‘A Song After Sundown

By Tom Di Nardo
The Philadelphia Daily News, May 12, 2006

Kimmel’s new organ eases fears in debut
By David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirier, May 13, 2006

Philadelphia Orchestra debuts organ to sold-out crowd
By Tom Di Nardo
The Philadelphia Daily News, May 13, 2006

A mighty wind
Kimmel Center celebrates $6.4 million, 32-ton organ
By Robert Baxter
The Courier-Post, May 13, 2006

Organ marathon an endurance test for all
By S. James Wegg

James Wegg Review, May 13, 2006

Philadelphia Orchestra's New Toy Is an Organ Full of Bells and Whistles
By James R. Oestreich

The New York Times, May 15, 2006

Orchestra's long wait is over
By Robert Baxter
The Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post, May 15, 2006

A conversation with Philadelphia organists
Alan Morrison, Jeffrey Brillhart and Peter Conte discuss the new Kimmel Center organ

WHYY Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, May 15, 2006

Philadelphia’s new organ
The Philadelphia Orchestra has a new toy, and boy, is it a lot of fun.
By Sarah Bryan Miller
The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, May 15, 2006

Philadelphia’s new organ, part 2: a recital marathon
By Sarah Bryan Miller
The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, May 15, 2006

Philadelphia Orchestra/Eschenbach, Verizon Hall, Philadelphia
By George Loomis
The Financial Times (London), May 15 2006

Kimmel Center organ impresses from its first note
By Philip A. Metzger
The Allentown Morning Call, May 16, 2006

Five hours of organ at the Kimmel
By David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirier, May 16, 2006

Iowa organ maker completes largest project
By Stella Shaffer
Radio Iowa, May 17, 2006

Trial by Fire for Kimmel’s New Concert Organ
As performers show off its bells and whistles, mega-instrument gives Verizon a second grand opening...
By Susan Elliott
Musical America, May 18, 2006
Registration required

A mighty wind
Whipped up at the Meyerson, the concert hall organ craze resonates in Philadelphia's new $3.7 million instrument
By Scott Cantrell
The Dallas Morning News, May 19, 2006

A variable Beethoven follows an alluring new piece
By David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirier, May 23, 2006

Philly's pipe dream comes true with new organ
By Tim Smith
The Baltimore Sun, May 21, 2006

‘Golem Psalms,’ a Kodály work, and organ antics
By David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirier, May 23, 2006

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra East Coast Tour 2006
Radio report of the May 25 PSO concert in Verizon Hall by Jim Cunningham
WQED-FM 89.3
Scroll down to “May 26 Morning”

Mammoth organ showcased in PSO performance
By Andrew Druckenbrod
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 27, 2006

Pittsburgh's guest conductor a true contender
By David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirier, May 27, 2006

The Kimmel organ’s debut: New Year’s Eve in May
by Dan Coren
Broad Street Review, May 29, 2006

'Tuneful fun'? Or something more?
The story the Inquirer missed
by Dan Coren
Broad Street Review, June 3, 2006

Organ Music: Pulling Out All the Stops
by Renée Montagne and Miles Hoffman
National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, June 5, 2006

Fanfare For Organ
Is Instrument Having A Resurgence?
By Matthew Erikson
The Hartford Courant, June 11, 2006

The mighty new Kimmel organ
By Michael Caruso
Philadelphia Music Makers Magazine, Summer, 2006

Trudy Pitts: Meeting the Next Keyboard Challenge
by Victor L. Schermer
All About Jazz, August 30, 2006

Bright Moment
Philly's Trudy Pitts becomes the first jazz musician to play the Kimmel's Cooper organ.
by Shaun Brady
Philadelphia City Paper, September 14, 2006

Trudy Pitts and Nancy Wilson Open 2006-07 Mellon Jazz Fridays at the Kimmel Center
by Victor L. Schermer
All About Jazz, October 3, 2006

Organist to play film music at the Kimmel
An interview with Tom Trenney
by Tom Di Nardo
Philadelphia Daily News, December 27, 2006


In addition, an article by Randy Pennell of the Associated Press ran in dozens of newspapers nationwide.


Phase 1 InstallationKimmel Center Dedication
Phase 2 ConstructionPhase 2 InstallationConsoles
Organ DedicationDedication Reviews

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