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Wonders of The Wurlitzer Concert Series

PPAC - Kid o InfoBy Jaci Arnone

You may be wondering why I am recommending pipe organ concerts as a fun kid’s activity, but I urge you to keep an open mind. Organ music might not be high on my playlist either, but I have wonderful memories of my grandmother “GiGi” playing show tunes during family holidays while my cousins and I danced our hearts out.

So recently when I discovered that Providence Performing Arts Center offers free lunchtime concerts showcasing their vintage Wurlitzer pipe organ, I leapt at the chance to expose the kids to some good ol’ organ music. And I promise you, it was well worth it.

We attended the first concert of this year’s spring series, which featured an accomplished organist and two talented vocalists. The hour-long program included a variety of upbeat show tunes from The Music Man, Gigi, and My Fair Lady, along with classics such as Tea for Two and Stars and Stripes Forever. My kids had a ball, clapping along, dancing in the aisle, and getting plenty of positive attention from the other attendees (mostly seniors).

We chose to sit in the first row of the balcony, which gave the kids a fantastic view of the theater. The balcony ledge served as the perfect impromptu table top, making it easier for the kids to manage their picnic lunch. Also, the railing is high enough that I wasn’t worried about their safety (although with toddlers, it might be better to avoid the steep steps and stay on the ground level).

Following the performance, we walked downstairs to get a closer glimpse of the Wurlitzer pipe organ. Built in 1927, this gorgeous instrument is the pride and joy of PPAC. The kids enjoyed seeing the ornate details on the Wurlitzer and getting yet another view of PPAC’s breathtaking interior, which my three-year-old daughter best described as “fancy, like Fancy Nancy!”

Whether you are a fan of pipe-organ music or not, the Wonders of the Wurlitzer series is a great opportunity to share live music with your family in one of Rhode Island’s most beautiful venues.


Spring 2008 Wurlitzer schedule (more details):
Monday May 12 (Len Beyersdorfer, organist)
Monday, May 19 (Jim & Linda Duncan, organist)
Wednesday, May 28 (Alden Mitchell, organist)
Wednesday, June 4 (Bob Legon, organist) – with silent movie

Location: Providence Performing Arts Center – 220 Weybosset St # 2, Providence, RI 02903
(401) 421-2997
Cost: All Wurlitzer concerts are FREE
Time: Noon to 1:00pm. (Bring a brown bag lunch)

Photo Credit: Jaci Arnone

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  • Your schedule for organ concerts on Wednesdays May 28 and June 4 and are incorrect. They are on Mondays, and the last two concerts are on Monday, June 1, and Monday June 8. You can see this information on the PPAC site by clicking on the “more details” link.

  • Oh it is such fun. In our case, we met Dad downtown for lunch and watched a show! Doesn’t get much better for the kids.

    And now that we are inviting people to hear organ music – Patrick Aiken at Central Congregational Church is fantastic on the organ. In fact, he has performed on the Wurlitzer at PPAC.

  • I used to take my boys to this series when they were 3 (just how it worked with our schedule) – it was always a treat to be in this magnificent place and eat lunch. Watching the organ and the organist come up from the ground was magic to the kids!

  • Great tip! This sounds like a wonderful opportunity. It IS such a fancy-nancy building–a thrill just to be inside. You are a fun mom.

    If there IS anyone out there who actually likes & pursues organ music, consider going to hear Fred Johdry at the First Unitarian church–he is amazing!