NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 6, 2012

1871 organ to highlight Holy Family Christmas Concert

AMESBURY — A historic Simmons-built pipe organ will be the centerpiece of Holy Family Parish in Amesbury’s Christmas Concert, titled “Sweet Sounds of the Christmas Season,” on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m. in the parish’s upper church.

The organ, built in 1871 by William Benjamin Dearborn Simmons, is in a class of organs that includes an 1855 organ built by Simmons for Dover Hall in Boston, an 1859 organ he built for Harvard University and an 1860 organ he built for St. Paul’s Cathedral in Louisville, Ky.

Simmons, who was born in Cambridge in 1823 and died in 1876, apprenticed under the renowned New England craftsman Thomas Appleton (1785-1872). One of Appleton’s finest extant organ creations is currently on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Simmons founded his own business in 1845; his organs were some of the first to use a full Swell division. An innovator in the use of tempered tuning and of steam-powered machinery in construction, he crafted his organs from the 1850s on, including the one at Holy Family, with more Germanic qualities.

Showcasing the historic organ in the Christmas Concert will be parish organists David Morrow and Jack Rogers, along with Holy Family’s Traditional Choir under the direction of Margaret Doyle. Also performing will be the Contemporary Ensemble, Men’s Prayer Group, Children’s Festival Choir and the Holy Family Sing-Along Singers.

Showing his pride for the organ, pastor Lou Palmieri says in a release, “Please come and experience what indeed will be `sweet sounds’ for this Christmas season.”

The concert is open to all. A free will offering will be taken. Refreshments will be served immediately following the concert in the lower church.

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