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Organists Compete in Philadephia's Longwood Gardens

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Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, near Philadelphia and equidistant from Washington, D.C. and New York City, is one of the world's spectacular botanical parks, with more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, gardens, flowers, and fountains.  Vibrant in all four seasons, Longwood takes on a particular hue in summer with a concert season that features performers ranging from Lyle Lovett to Tony Bennett to the Philadelphia Orchestra.   In a grand ballroom, it also houses one of the world's largest concert organs with more than 10,000 pipes (music was a passion of Pierre S. du Pont, whose family legacy supports the gardens) that give full aural dimension to grand 19th and 20th symphonic organ music.

To celebrate the instrument's recent restoration, a seven-year process, the park is presenting through June 22 the inaugural Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition, a showcase for 10 musicians from throughout the world, Russia to New Zealand, England to South Korea, Bulgaria to the United States.  Idyllic settings such as Longwood are filled with birdsong, the buzz of insects, and burbling of rivulets and streams, but there's no other garden with the quiet rumble and magnificent roar of what Mozart called "the king of instruments."

Mario R. Mercado is the arts editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens.

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