Saturday, July 16, 2011

Historic Organ Foundation


I write to you with exciting news about an organization that it has long been my dream to found.

I have long been passionate about pipe organs from the 19th century. This passion was particularly kindled during my twelve years (1989-2001) as organist of the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, whose 1859 Hook organ had one of the most glorious tones of any instrument that I have ever played. (See photo, taken at the 2000 OHS Convention) The organ perished in a devastating 2005 fire – an event that to this day is painful for me to ponder.

Fire is not the only enemy of historic organs. One by one, churches around the country are turning away from what they deem to be "traditional" music, ignoring or even discarding their valuable organs in favor of inferior electronic and digital instruments.

Even in churches that do cherish their pipe organs, deferred maintenance is one of the most insidious enemies to the instrument. The repair problems mount over the course of decades, until the organ reaches a state that the church cannot possibly afford to restore it, even if it wanted to.

After much thought and consultation with colleagues and friends, I decided to form the Historic Organ Foundation. Our purpose is a simple one: to award grants toward the restoration, reconstruction, and repair of historic pipe organs.

Our glorious inaugural event will take place in October of 2012 at the renowned Methuen Memorial Music Hall. Some of the area's most renowned organists will participate in a gala organ concert, the proceeds of which will benefit the recipient of our 2012 grant.


The first twelve donors to make a one-time gift of $118.75 (fully tax-deductible) will be identified as Charter Members of the Foundation. They will be so identified on our website, in our programs, and in other publicity, now and for years to come.

Please note: your tax-deductible donation should be made out to "Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Inc.", with "Historic Organ Foundation" in the Memo line. However, your check should NOT be mailed to Methuen. Instead, it should be mailed to Leonardo Ciampa, 11 Wellesley Ave., Natick, MA 01760-3712.

UPDATE (21 June 2011)

The gala organ concert at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall will take place on Friday, October 5, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. The roster of organists will feature some of the finest players in the country.

We’re very pleased to announce that we have commissioned Harvard University’s CARSON COOMAN to compose "Methuen Fantasia," which he will première at this concert.

Photo of Mr. Cooman: Colby Cooman