|The 45th annual Organ Historical Society Convention was held in Boston the 16th through the 23rd of August. I was only able to get to part of the convention, but even just three days of it was terrific. I had been afraid that I would miss it entirely and would be like that poor fellow who had to cancel his convention registration with the explanation, "My boss said No." I want to take this opportunity to share a little of the experience with the following photographs. If you wish more detailed information about the convention check out the convention site at:
It is not only the organs that make the convention great, the beauty of some of the buildings and the experience of gathering together with so many other organphiles makes it great.. I cannot say enough about the terrific job done by the convention committee in putting together a schedule to see so many excellent instruments and performances.
|Thursday evening ..Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (The Mission Church) Mission Hill, Roxbury Crossing with Julian Wachter at the 1897 Geo. S. Hutchings -Opus 410
Below are some views of the altar area of the church
|These views reflect the beauty of the church building. After all the organs were installed for the purpose of enhancing worship and the convention did very well in showing this relationship.|
|On Friday we visited churches in the Jamiaca Plaine area of Boston.Below are some scenes from those venues.|
|First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain with Lois Regenstein at the 1859 E. & G. G. Hook....candid picture at the right the right caught Lois' assistant waiting next to the organ after the program.|
|In addition to hosting a program, the Central Congregational Church in Jamaica Plain was also a lunch stop for many of us. Conventioneers can be scene in the scene above eating lunch on the lawn in front of the church. The weather in Boston was perfect for our visit.
Central Congregational Church with Mark Dwyer at Aeolian-Skinner 1936 (Op. 946)
|Top view shows interior of Central Congregational Church. Organ chamber is to the left of the chancel and speaks into the chancel. Organ console was located on the right side of the chancel. As small as the organ appears it is very versatile.|
|Less than a block from the Central Congregational Church was the former home of organbuilder Elias Hook (shown to the right) The churches we visited in Jamaica Plain where within walking distance of each other. We walked past the Hook residence and many other stately homes in the area to reach the next venue. Whenever possible the committee planned movement between locations by either walking or public transportation to keep limit the number of charter busses needed and help reduce the cost of the convention. Busses were available for those who had mobility problems.|
|First Parish (Unitarian) Gregory Crowell at the E. & G.G. Hook-1854 Op. 171|
|St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, Jamaica Plain 1854 E. & G.G. Hook demonstrated by organbuilder Scot L. Huntington|
|Scot L. Huntington|
|One of the most exciting events of the convention was the visit to the St. Thomas Aquinas RC Church in Jamaica Plain. Not only is the church home to the very historical 1854 Opus 160 E. & G. G. Hook Organ, but we had the opportunity to hear an organ that had not been heard for several decades. The former pastor of the church did not like the pipe organ and forbade the playing of the instrument. Prior to the convention the organ was unplayable due to many problems including a faultly blower. Organbuilder Scot L. Huntington labored many hours to bring this organ back to life and up until the day of our visit it was uncertain that we would be able to hear it. He not only restored this organ to playing condition but had it tuned up so that we had the opportunity to hear the organ at its best and it sounded wonderful. There were tears in the eyes of many of the parishioners of the church who were there and had not heard this instrument for so many years. Some others who had never heard it before were awestruck by the maginificient sound. Although professing to be an organbuilder and not an organist, Scot demonstrated the registrations available on the organ by playing phrases with different stops drawn and then played several Bach selections to further demonstrate the tonal resources of the organ. Scot deserves our praise for taking the time to ready this organ at the same time he was serving a convention committee chair finalizing preparations for what was a very successful OHS convention.|
|One of the many beautiful stain glass windows at St. Thomas Aquinas|
|First Congregational Church,
E. & G.G. Hook
1860- Op. 283
|After our very active day on the Jamaica Plain area after dinner we headed for Woburn for a program on the Hook organ by organist and organbuilder George Bozeman, Jr. In 1992 this organ was completely refurbished by George's firm, which means George is quite at home on this instrument.|
|On Saturday morning we boarded busses for a trip to Arlington and Lexington. As we did on Friday our large group was broken into smaller groups which could be accomodated by the smaller churches. To left OHS's Jerry Morton answers questions while waiting for the busses. To the right is our headquarters hotel, The Boston Park Plaza.|
|Follen Community Church
E. & G.G. Hook
OP. 466 1868
Program presented by
Erik M. Suter
|This organ was relocated to Follen Community Church in 1996 after being restored by the Bishop Organ Co. The church showed their committment to this organ by literally lowering the floor and raising the roof to accomodate the instrument. Organbuilder Bishop demonstrated how well the organ is restored by hand pumping the bellows for one of the selections. He used very slow and easy strokes, the wind never sagged and he never broke a sweat.|
|Above on behalf of the Organ Historical Society Mary Gifford presents Follen Community's organist and chairman of organ committee, Wendy Strouthman, an OHS citation attesting to the significient historical value of the Hook Organ. The views on the right show organbuilder John Bishop hand pumping the organ.|
|To the left is a close-up view of organ pump handle and wind pressure indicator.|
|OHS executive director William Van Pelt at Follen|
|Some of the OHS members enjoying the Hook at Follen are Paul Marchesano (looking away), Will Scarlbaro and Sand Lawn (with camera)
OHS Midwest Chapter president Stephen Schnurr is seen at the right framing his shot of the photogenic Hook
We visited two churches in Arlington which were within walking distance of each other. The historic marker to the right was found in the cemetary directly behind First Parish (Unitarian)
|First Parish (Unitarian)
E. & G.G. Hook
1870 (Op. 529)
Richard Hill performed a program of the forgotten generation of 19th and 20th Century composers.
The above edifice seems an unlikely place to find an historic instrument, yet here we find the Hook Organ shown to the right.
|First Baptist Church Frazee Organ Co. - 1926
OHS Hymn sing accompanied by Timothy Edward Smith
|First Baptist Church in Arlington was the location for the OHS Hymn Sing. It is customary to sing a hymn at each program, which has even included a program in a roller rink which came as a surprise to the regular skaters. The hymn singing generally impresses the parishioners of many of the churches visited who have not been exposed to such robust hymn singing.|
on Thompson Island
|Saturday night there was a break in the program schedule and we took a short boat ride to Thompson Island for a clambake with loads of steamed clams, steak and lobster. There was an abundance of good eats and no one left without satisfying their appetites.|
|OHS members heading for Clam Bake on Thompson Island. Click on picture for boat and harbor pictures.|
There were many more opportunities available than could be crowded into the duration of the convention. For that reason the convention committee planned some days with different options. On Sunday there were three different options for the early afternoon, (1) Visit to Mt. Auburn Cemetary, (2) Organs on the Cambridge Common (3) or a visit to Trinity Church with a demonstration of the organ and open console. I opted for the Trinity Church and below are some samples of the beauty of the sanctuary and its stainglass windows.
|Trinity Church (Copley Square)
Click on picture for interior and stainglass window pictures
|Organ Voluntaries and Choral Evensong at the Church of the Advent, Boston Aeolian-Skinner (Op. 940) 1936
Edith Ho, Director of Music
Mark Dwyer, organist
|Above is the sanctuary is filled with parishioners and OHS members waiting for the start of Evensong. The choir and organ provided a rich tapestry of music for this very traditional service.
To the right is the Aeolian-Skinner console at Church of the Advent
|This group is gathered in front of the Church of Advent following the Evensong. From LtoR Tim Bovard, David Scribner, Sebastian Gluck and David McPeak.|
|Riding the "T"
The convention package contained a 3 day subway pass for use to venues which were convenient to the subway system. Concerts at Harvard in Cambridge could be reached conveniently on the Red Line and the concert at the Mother Church was close to the E branch of the Green Line. At the right a Green Line train is enterring the Park Street Station. Click on photo for more views of the Boston Subway System.
|The First Church of Christ, Scientist (The Mother Church) -Extension, Boston
Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. (Op. 1203) 1950-52
Program by Cherry Rhodes
|This was the last event I was able to attend and the program on this magnificient organ was a good way to finish the visit.|
|OHS member Malcolm Weschler has done an excellent job of reporting the activities of the convention with his posts to organ email lists. With his permission these comments are available on line. Click here to read Malcolm's comments.|
|A few closing comments. In an era where the pipe organ has virtually disappeared from worship service and entertainment venues, this convention provides an opportunity to hear organ literature performed on the instruments that are able to present them as they were originally concieved. This pipe organ is an endangered species and across the country both individuals and groups are working to preserve and restore instruments that might otherwise be lost. Your support for these projects is an important part of insuring their success. On the bottom of this page is a list of links to resources for information about pipe organs and various organizations. I wish to thank the Organ Historical Society for a very exceptional time and acknowledge their part in preserving our organ heritage. I would also like to thank the Chicago Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts, (CATOE) for the use of their webspace for this page. Jon C. Habermaas August, 2000|
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