November 4, 2011
After a day of business meetings in Boston I took a cab to the South End to meet some old friends at the Catholic Cathedral and make an audio blog of the E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings there. This instrument is the largest extant example of the artistry of that Boston firm. When it was completed in 1875, Opus 801 was the largest yet built pipe organ in America. The organ has 5292 pipes and boasts 39 ranks of mixtures, a cornet on every division, and 13 ranks of reed pipes, including three reed stops which were manufactured in Paris, by Henri Zimmerman.
Leo Abbott, Music Director and Organist of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, has lead the charge to save this amazing piece of American musical history. When I first heard the organ back when I was in college, it barely played, but today it is in very good condition. Mr. Abbot was able to raise the money to have the Andover Organ Company make a replica of the 19th century console made to replace a failing second hand console put on the organ in the early 20th century. As you can see from the photos taken in the organ a full and comprehensive restoration would be ideal, but this instrument still makes a grand sound.
People like Leo have been an inspiration to me as I tackle raising money for a much smaller instrument at Our Lady of Refuge in Brooklyn. It shows all of us in the organ world that almost anything is possible with vision, patience, persistence and a bit of Gods help.
Thank you Leo for all you have done for the organ world. Thank you Mark Dwyer for recording these improvisations that I insisted come from the Liber Usualis. It was a fun Friday night.
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Click below to hear Mark Dwyer improvise on the E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings Organ at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston