A Random Act of Culture

What if you were shopping in a crowded Macy’s and the person next to you suddenly started singing Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus? Right. I’d begin shuffling away as quickly as possible. But what if it wasn’t just one shopper, but 630? And what if they were accompanied by one of the most famous organs in the world?

Now that’s a different situation.

The Knight Foundation has been funding a series of guerrilla performances under the rubric of “Random Acts of Culture.” The idea is take the arts out of the stage, concert hall and other venues where they’re isolated from the general public, and place them right where ordinary people congregate.

The “Hallelujah” chorus project was the foundation’s most ambitious project to date. The Macy’s Department store in Philadelphia is home to the Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest pipe organ. Over 600 trained choristers (the core coming from the Opera Company of Philadelphia) from the area were recruited to mingle among the holiday shoppers. When the organ started the introduction, magic happened — as you can see from the following video. Sorry I don’t live in Philadelphia!

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