Holy Family Parish in Concord, Massachusetts, will be hosting Leo Abbott, F.A.G.O., Organist and Director of Music at Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston on Sunday, September 23 at 4:00 p.m. at Holy Family Parish / Saint Bernard Church in Concord Center. The occasion is the completion of work that has repaired and restored the parish’s heirloom pipe organ.
In 1875, ten years after Saint Bernard [now Holy Family] Parish was constituted by the then Archbishop John Joseph Williams, a new pipe organ was purchased and installed in the church. It was an E. & G.G. Hook and Hastings, Opus 812. Hook and Hastings was the premier organ company in the United States from the mid nineteenth century to around 1920 and the Hook and Hastings in our choir loft is testimony to the generosity and hard work of the earliest parishioners at this new Catholic Church. Most of the early Catholics in the Concord area were laborers and domestic workers and their generosity, hard work and devotion led to the young parish’s being able to purchase and install this vintage instrument.
In the 1992-1993 extensive restoration and enlargement work on the organ took place under the direction of the pastor, Father John Murray and the then music director, Taras Leschishin. At that time a new electronic organ, a two manual Rodgers, was purchased and installed on the main floor of the church. Both organs were at that time “paired” so that the Rodgers could play either or both instruments or the Hook and Hastings could be played by itself from the loft.
Around 2004, due to a leak in the roof above it, the organ sustained significant water damage and was not playable for almost eight years. This spring the parish was able to repair the Hook and Hastings which is now fully repaired and operational.
To mark its return to full service the parish will be holding a series of occasional organ recitals in the coming years. The inaugural event will feature Mr. Leo Abbott, renowned organist at Holy Cross Cathedral and one of the most knowledgeable persons about Hook and Hastings organs in the entire country.
This will take place on Sunday, September 23 at 4:00 PM in the church. Leo’s musical program will also include a brief talk about the history of the Hook and Hastings Company and the unique quality of their instruments. There is no charge for this concert and talk but donations to help offset the costs of repair will be gratefully accepted. This is an event for people of all ages and we hope you will avail yourselves of this great inaugural opportunity.
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