All Saints Parish, Ashmont

C.B. Fisk, Op. 103, 1993


Skinner Organ Company, Op. 708, 1929


C.B. Fisk, Op. 103:

The visual design for Opus 103 was developed to harmonize with the architecture of this the first church designed by Ralph Adams Cram. The design was created within a scale model, which allowed the designers to view the case from all angles, including the tower entrance. The organ speaks down the length of the nave from a new gallery designed by architect William Buckingham, a member of the parish. The sculptural quality and decoration of the quarter-sawn white oak organ reflects, but does not compete with, the lavish carvings in the chancel and in the exquisite Lady Chapel.

A singular feature is the rear façade rank, facing the great tower window. The Tower Diapason supports the singing of those seated in the tower and provides an echo effect for the listeners in the nave. Instruments facing two sides are not uncommon in England, Italy and Spain; the unique architectural setting at All Saints' provides the ideal opportunity to achieve this arrangement in America.

Skinner, Op. 708:

In 2012, in the midst of the final stages planning for the restoration of our historic buildings, the Parish was afforded a unique opportunity to acquire a vintage Skinner organ from a closed church in North Adams, Massachusetts. Ideal in size, sound and pedigree, Skinner Organ Co.'s Opus 708 was a welcome and timely solution to the problem of All Saints' failing chancel organ.

(The former chancel organ, Hutchings-Votey Organ Co.'s Op. 1482 from 1902, never seems to have been musically adequate for the needs of the Parish. It underwent a series of well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful rebuilds over the course of the 20th century. By 2012, it was only partially playable and could not adequately accompany choral singing.)

Thanks to a generous gift, the Parish was able to acquire and store Op. 708 on site, arranged through organ consultant and parishioner Jonathan Ambrosino, organ restorer Joe Sloane, and the help of many church volunteers. Mr. Ambrosino and his team's restoration and installation were timed to coincide with the completion of the church restoration project in early 2015.

Skinner organs excel at choral accompaniment—a critical requirement at All Saints, where the chancel organ's primary role is to support the Choir of Men and Boys. Op. 708 was built at the firm's subsidiary plant in Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1929. The construction quality is superb, representing the finest materials and craftsmanship of the period. The instrument was in a remarkable state of preservation when acquired, and its installation at All Saints involved a complete historical restoration, along with the minor re-engineering necessary to make the instrument conform to the space available in Ashmont's chancel organ chamber.

The organ's original 20 stops and 23 ranks are in three divisions and a pedal, with the Swell and Choir under expression. The console is fitted with a number of assists that enhance its function and flexibility as a fine accompaniment instrument. The Skinner joins the Centennial Organ—C.B. Fisk's Opus 103—which leads congregational singing and provides a fine instrument for solo literature. This two-organ arrangement creates an ideal environment to support the Parish's ambitious music program.

- material from the All Saints Parish website