The Grand Court Wanamaker symphonic organ pairs with a lesser-known member of the brass family to provide an engaging new take on old favorites of opera and classical repertoire. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on the pioneering sound.
Susan Lewis: Organ and flugelhorn?
Peter Richard Conte: There’s a lot for trumpet and organ, but not for flugelhorn and organ. We’ve done our own arrangements.
SL: Using their own arrangements, Peter Richard Conte plays the Wanamaker Organ with Andrew Ennis on flugelhorn, whose silky, soulful sound is somewhere between a trumpet and a French horn.
Andrew Ennis: From concert B flat to concert G flat is probably my sweet range…
SL: In addition to opera arias with the flugelhorn on the vocal line, their repertoire includes works where the organ and flugelhorn converse like two soloists.
AE: One of the pieces, the Charles Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette. Somebody plays a short phrase; the next person plays another phrase. We constantly bounce back and forth.
SL: Other pieces showcase the instruments in unexpected ways. Consider Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Procession of the Nobles.
PC: I’m using one of the biggest stops on the Wanamaker Organ - this huge tuba. Andrew comes in, we're in dialogue with these fanfares. And you’d swear they’re completely matched. It's like, what is that you're hearing? It’s the same instrument in a whole different light.
SL: Conte and Ennis perform live around the country. Their recently released CD, My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice: Wanamaker Organ and Flugelhorn - which includes works by Puccini, Verdi, Hebbel, Debussy, Elgar, Granger and others - is a Gothic release.