The Quartet at Longwood Gardens
The Philadelphia Organ Quartet History
The Philadelphia Organ Quartet owes its beginnings to a 1993 duo-organ concert presented by the Wayne Concert Series in Wayne, Pennsylvania. The idea grew and the four artists were later brought together for a memorial recital for Dr. Keith Chapman, legendary organist of the famous John Wanamaker Grand Court Organ. All four had been assistants to Chapman at the time he and his wife, Sally, died in a private plane crash in June of 1989. Since then the Quartet has performed in numerous locations and grown in national recognition as the only such group in existence.
The unique nature of a performance by an organ quartet presents some intriguing challenges, the most obvious being the need for four large instruments to be available and properly installed at the place of performance. Support from the Allen Organ Company in Macungie, PA and its extensive dealer network has been a key factor in the group’s success. Even so, because of the enormous amount of space these instruments take up, limiting the time they can be present in any given location, the Quartet has only one or two days before a performance to rehearse its programs. The members of the Quartet feel that their unusual success results from their camaraderie and mutual regard, as well as their ties to the Wanamaker Organ.
Philadelphia Organ Quartet concerts are characterized by dazzling musicianship leavened with large doses of humor and on-stage banter between the players (and sometimes the audience). Understandably only several pieces of music were ever written for four organs. The wide range of current repertoire includes these works (Monk Mueller), adaptations of other works for organ, as well as symphonic, popular, religious, ragtime, classical and Broadway works. You will notice that this is not four organs playing the same music; elaborate transcriptions, including customized parts and stop registrations for each player, are produced by the artists themselves.