Thanksgiving Christmas Sing Along at Longwood Gardens

Joe Vitacco with a 32' Bombarde behind him at Longwood Gardens

November 24 & 25, 2011

Well this past Thanksgiving was a bit different. We “went out” for dinner. Little did I know that I would enjoy a truly excellent dinner within 3 feet of the recreated Aeolian Console at Longwood Gardens. It wasn’t planned, really it wasn’t. Nor did I think I would be interviewing Peter Conte later Thanksgiving Day (really Nov 25th) at 12:30 am in the Grand Court which was FULL OF SHOPPERS!

Longwood Gardens has been associated with the DuPont family for over 100 years. Pierre S. du Pont (1870–1954) purchased the property from the Peirce family in 1906 to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber. He made it his private estate, and from 1906 until the 1930s, du Pont added extensively to the property. A world traveler from an early age, du Pont was often inspired to add features to the garden after attending world’s fairs, the most notable additions being the massive conservatory, complete with a very large pipe organ built by the Aeolian Company as well as an extensive system of fountains. Mr. Du Pont opened his estate to the public many days of the year during his occupancy. (Source Wikipedia)

The organ was fully restored during the years 2004 to 2011 with the goal of returning the Longwood Organ to its 1930′s splendor. The work was carried out by Nelson Barden, Joseph Rotella, Richard Houghton and Jonathan Ambrosino. The organ was re-wired, re-glued, re-painted, re-voiced, and restored virtually every element of the instrument. An unaltered Aeolian organ from the same era was acquired to provide clues as to the original voicing and to supply missing pipes. (Source Longwood Garden’s Website) From everything I could see and hear they did a fabulous job. You must go hear it!

Justin Hartz let me record him during the Christmas Sing Along and talked for a few minutes with me about the instrument after. Click here for the official website about the Longwood Garden’s Organ and upcoming organ recitals.

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