13 June 2021
3.00 pm (ET)
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross celebrates the 145th year since the dedication of its principal organ, the 101-rank E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings Opus 801, on February 23, 1876.
Dr. Bridgette Wargovich, Corpus Christi Parish, East Sandwich
Leo D. Abbott – FAGO, ChM – Music Director Emeritus | Cathedral of the Holy Cross
Maks Adach – Associate Music Director | Saint Paul’s Choir School, Boston
John Black – Director of Music, Greenwood Church, Warwick, Rhode Island
Richard Kelley – trumpet
Richard J. Clark – Cathedral of the Holy Cross
» Works by Dupré, Vierne, Pott, Reger, and Clark
Tickets are available here and at the door.
Children 17 and under are free but must register online at the link above.
You may also make a donation of any amount larger to the Cathedral Organ Restoration Fund, or write a check made out to the “Cathedral of the Holy Cross” with the memo “Organ Restoration Fund.” Your donation is tax deductible! This Fund was established by Leo Abbott in 1987 in memory of his father, Arthur J. Abbott.
About the Organ
At 364 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 120 feet high, with a seating capacity of 1,700, Holy Cross Cathedral is New England’s largest church. Dedicated in December 1875, it was constructed of locally-quarried Roxbury puddingstone and Quincy granite to designs of noted ecclesiastical architect Patrick C. Keely. The advent of cast-iron construction permitted exceptionally slender nave columns supporting the largest wooden vault of its time. An unfashionably remote location—the former site of the town gallows—betrays Anglo-Saxon Protestant Boston’s ambivalence toward waves of “foreign” immigrants, for whom the new cathedral’s completion after nine years of construction was a signal achievement.
The 1875 Hook & Hastings wasn’t the largest organ built in the United States during the nineteenth century, but at seventy voices and 101 ranks it is the biggest to have survived unscathed. Built in the early years after Francis Hastings assumed control of the firm from founding brothers Elias and George Hook, Holy Cross’s instrument was the first of several organs intended to generate considerable power in vast spaces. Fully a quarter of the organ’s resources—twenty-seven ranks—are vested in a blazing Great chorus topped by a Trumpet and Clarion imported from France. With a five-rank cornet in every department, many registers of pure tin, and a ten-inch pressure tuba built and voiced in the Hook & Hastings shop, here was Hastings’ manifesto on post-Civil War tonal heroism.
Like the neighborhood itself, Opus 801 languished into the twentieth century in the shadows of newer, “better” organs with electrific action and French horns. In the 1920s, the organ was casually electrified and fitted with a second-hand theatre organ console. The Hook revival of the 1960s and ’70s brought renewed attention, however. More recently, under the tireless banner-waving of Cathedral organist Leo Abbott, the instrument is seeing happier days. In 2003, the Andover Organ Company supplied a modern console patterned after the original, and in the past decade has undertaken select restoration as funding has become available.
In 2015, the Cathedral closed for interior and exterior renovation. The Church was reopened on Palm Sunday, 2019. The biggest change, musically, was the removal of carpeting and sound-dampening material. The new acoustic is glorious, with a five-second reverberation.
The organ was rededicated with a concert by Leo Abbott, now Organist Emeritus, on September 15, 2019.