“In 1926, German director Fritz Lang stunned international audiences with his masterpiece Metropolis … a chilling art-deco fantasia with cinematography by Karl Freund that anticipated film noir and influenced a generation of filmmakers.” Using the vast tonal resources of Northop’s historic Aeolian-Skinner Opus 892 pipe organ, “Philadelphia organ virtuoso Peter Richard Conte interprets the music with a driving expressionist approach ala Lang” (CultureVulture) in a fully improvised performance that promises a “mixture of levity and technical brilliance" (The Birmingham News).


"It might be hard to imagine an organ recital audience giving out a yell that a hockey crowd might envy. But so it was as Peter Richard Conte finished the last bars and the packed house erupted into a standing ovation and delighted laughter.” —The Santa Fe New Mexican

"Standing ovation? Better call it a flying ovation." —The Santa Fe New Mexican

"A sparkling, often lighthearted concert of organ compositions and transcriptions. Conte led off his ebullient romp through Broadway and Victorian-era Boston (with a layover in Bayreuth, Germany) with his own quirky transcription of Bernstein’s Overture to Candide … [a] mixture of levity and technical brilliance." —The Birmingham News

"A vibrant virtuoso performance ... Conte performed with a dexterous grace, riding the torrent of sound and fury to its predestined conclusion." —The Trentonian

"In every piece it was obvious that Conte is a great musician and has taken the time to know the capacities of his instrument. Such a range of expression I didn't know was possible on an organ. What a wonderful evening this was!" —American Record Guide

"Conte's brilliance in registration is incredible, his playing credibly, refreshingly excellent. Fabulous." —The American Organist

"Conte's playing of the entire program was of the highest musicality, with an unimpeachable sense of timing and registration and absolute technical control." —The Diapason


Learn More - Explore These Themes

The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested topics:

  • Theatre Arts
  • Film
  • Organ Studies
  • Music Theory
  • Music History
  • German
  • Cinema & Media Culture

Take a deeper dive with these resources that provide additional information about the performers, the history of the artform, and the artistic process.



Start a conversation about the performance, or encourage reflection, using these questions as inspiration.

For this event, Peter Richard Conte performs on Northrop’s recently restored Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ—one of the last remaining concert hall pipe organs in the United States. Conte is known as the master of the 111-year-old Wanamaker Organ—the world’s largest fully functioning musical instrument with 29,000 pipes— located in a Macy’s flagship department store in Philadelphia.

  • How does an instrument's physical size affect an audience's experience?
  • Do you believe automatic music transcription technology has the potential to replace music transcription? Why or why not?
  • What may be the advantage or disadvantage of performing art in non-conventional spaces?

As part of Northrop’s new, silent film series, Conte accompanies Metropolis, a German silent film released in 1927, featuring director Fritz Lang’s vision of a grim futuristic society and containing some of the most impressive images in film history.

  • Why do you think organs were introduced to accompany silent films?
  • Are silent films still relevant today? What do you think explains the continuous revival of silent films with accompanied improvisations from skilled organists like Conte?
  • What do you think are the qualities of a successful silent film accompaniment score and a great accompanist?

Metropolis is set in a dystopian future, the then-distant year of 2000. The movie depicts a deeply-divided world—where the rich overlords benefit from the blood, sweat, and tears of the workers—who service the machines that power the city.

  • The film touches on some of the socio-economic disparities we still face today. Do you think we have improved as a society? In what areas do we still have a long way to go?
  • Do you believe that art can be a tool to provide hope for a better future? 
  • Imagine it’s the distant year 3000, what art forms do you believe will be alive? How might artistic practices evolve?


Minnesota State Arts Board logo

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.