Whistlers from across Philadelphia are being brought together for the first time to perform as The Whistling Orchestra of Philadelphia. The selected Philadelphians will be performing a new composition written specifically for whistling by the artist Emma Smith. Commissioned by Temple Contemporary at the Tyler School of Art, Smith’s new work is inspired by music in the workplace and is composed in response to local archives and shared memories of making music at work in Philadelphia.
Watch and Listen
About the Orchestra
Aaliyah Smith-Israel is a Sales Fashion Advisor and Behavioral Therapist. She was born and raised in Philadelphia and learned to whistle on the school bus in 1st grade.
Alanna Butler has spent her career working in public health and she is a sexual health educator. She has been whistling since she had baby teeth.
Amber Stewart is an artist, model, and actress who lives in West Philadelphia. Whistling helps her keep her form for playing clarinet.
Anthony Feaster learned to whistle at age 5, and honed his whistling during twenty-two years as a bike courier. He is from Darby PA.
Bria Blauvelt has had a love for sounds since she was little, and whistling was a way to express those sounds. She is an actress and voice over artist who has performed in plays, musicals, TV, and film.
Caroline Winschel is a choral singer and non-profit leader. She has spent nearly a decade convincing various East Coast chamber choirs to include whistling in their performances.
Carol Denson is a Senior Electronic Technician at a small communications company. She has been a whistler for all her life, although her mother would say “Little girls should not whistle! It’s just like a hen crowing or a rooster clucking!” She is the worship leader for her church and incorporates whistling into their worship.
Doug MacAdam learned to whistle by imitating PopPop, his grandfather. He uses whistling to call for someone’s attention, applaud a wonderful achievement, call an unruly meeting to order, or paralyze children in the midst of inappropriate behavior.
Eladio Olivo is a lawyer and English-Spanish medical interpreter. He likes whistling because it is like singing and playing a musical instrument at the same time.
Jackie Reinhart comes from a long line of whistlers. She is a Vice President of Human Resources and a Girl Scout co-leader.
Jeff MacAdam is a Business Broker and former heavy metal drummer. He learned to whistle from his father Doug, who is also performing in the Orchestra.
Jenelle Wilson Johnson
Jenelle Wilson Johnson is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and works as a H.I.M Specialist at Einstein Medical Center. She enjoys whistling as a fun activity to do in the car, sitting at her desk, or even while doing household chores.
Jim Hummel is owner and operator of a retail flower shop in Bucks County. He is also a member of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. He finds whistling useful in memorizing choral tunes and whistles along with the radio in the car.
John F. Baynard, Jr is retired after teaching for 41 years in the Camden, NJ public school system. He whistles because he finds it relaxing, and it brings pleasant memories of his father.
John Tatum is a trombonist, singer, and retired IT specialist. John’s mother taught him to whistle at the tender age of seven. He has been including puccalo style whistling in his music career since 2003.
Kenneth Schies works as a project manager for a small telecom company. He learned to whistle as a kid by watching Popeye and whistling along to the theme song with his stepdad.
Michael L. Gorrell
Michael Gorrell is a veteran and now works as a caseworker for the Department of Public Welfare. During his 4 years in the Navy, he was known as The Whistler.
Michael Wells is retired business representative from the Carpenters Union. He learned to whistle as a young child when birds would wake him up early, and he would entertain himself by whistling back.
Mimi Drummond is a retired medical professional and has been a World Champion Whistler since her first competition in 1982. She was won first place medals at seven international whistling competitions, six national whistling championships, and was inducted into the International Whistlers Hall of Fame in 1996. She is the Lead Whistler of the Whistling Orchestra of Philadelphia.
Noah Donahue is pursuing a career in classical voice. Since he began singing at age 8, he has also been whistling.
Ronnessa Edwards works as a Human Relations Representative for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission she investigates complaints of discrimination in Housing. She learned to whistle as a child in response to her mother’s whistle to locate her.
Sam Irwin is a multi-media artist, composer, and performer from Queens New York. His work involves designing his own digital instruments, and performance tools to create unique experiences.
Sandra Dowling is a veteran of the US Army. She whistles to calm her nerves, for enjoyment, and to strengthen her voice for singing.
Shavon Coleman works freelance for event marketing firms, as well as in natural and holistic healing. Growing up, she and her siblings would play “guess the song” by whistling tunes from radio or tv, which aided her love for music and reaching high notes.
Suzanne Wingate is a semi-retired literacy teacher and a well-travelled background singer. She loves recycling things into new treasures, and likes that whistling is a fun way to recycle the value of vocal chords.
About the Artist
Emma Smith is a visual artist based in the UK, who works internationally. She has a social practice and creates public platforms for experimentation, research and action through site-specific events and installations. Smith’s work tests the boundaries of human connectivity: relationship, communication, and sense of place. For the past few years her work has focused particularly on voice and the extraordinary ways it connects us to one another and to place. Previous exhibitions and commissions include Tate Modern, Barbican, Whitechapel Gallery, Bluecoat, Whitworth, ICA and Arnolfini, UK, with international projects across the globe.