First Congregational Church of Greenwich Announces Free Lunch Recitals by Local Organists during Lent Season

To showcase the recent work and additions done on the First Congregational Church of Greenwich’s 1978 Austin pipe organ, the church will present a Lenten Organ Recital Series.

Each Thursday, from February 27 to April 2, organists serving on the staffs of Greenwich area churches will present a free, 30-minute recital from 12:15-12:45pm in the Meetinghouse.

Following the recital, there will be a simple lunch of soup and a sandwich in the Auditorium, which is also free, with a basket on each table for anyone who wishes to make a donation to offset the cost of their meal. No reservations are needed for the lunch.

Recitalists are:

February 27 – Dr. Craig Scott Symons, Minister of Music, First Congregational Church

March 5 – Jonathan Vaughn, Associate Director of Music, Christ Church Greenwich

March 12 – Leslie Smith, Director of Music, Round Hill Community Church

March 19 – David Johnson, Director of Music, St. Paul’s, Riverside

March 26 – Dr. Liya Petrides, Director of Music, St. Catherine Church, Riverside

April 2 – Dr. Craig Scott Symons, Minister of Music, First Congregational Church

Built in 1978, the pipe organ was built the Austin Organ Company from Hartford, CT. Founded in 1893, it has been at the current location on Woodland Street in Hartford since 1899. Many of their organs from the late 19th century are still in use today.

Minister of Music, Craig Scott Symons said First Congregational took some steps to upgrade the instrument to 21st century standards, such as the controlling (operating) system, which is now a state-of-the-art digital system and responds instantaneously when changing the preset sound combinations.

“There was a most memorable point in my organ audition during my interview process for the job that the organ piston I pushed failed to engage in the middle of a piece that I was playing,” he said. “In 2010, that was one of the points that was discussed in the verbal interviews that I said needed to be addressed at some point in the near future, and the committee agreed.”

Starting in 2017, plans were set forth to address a variety of issues, including console upgrades, control system, expansion (2018) some re-voicing of some stops, and general cleaning (2019). While the sanctuary went through a renovation in the summer of 2019, some of the organ was sealed, and some parts were removed and transported to Hartford for safekeeping during the renovation process. The organ returned last September and has been a source of inspiration, coupled with the acoustical improvements of the sanctuary, and makes worship a more exciting experience.

Several other digital stops (sounds) were added to increase the flexibility of the instrument. “Due to the building constraints of where the organ is installed, the pedal stops, ones that are used by the feet, did not give the appropriate amount of “umph” to the foundation of good pipe organs because the length of the pipes for those pedal stops were restricted by the pitched roof and angle of the room where the pipes are installed. To compensate for the lack of lower pitched pipes, digital stops/sounds were added to give the important rumble and depth to the organ and the sanctuary. In the first phase, we were able to add an extra enclosed segment of pipes which gives further flexibility for worship and concert music.”

First Church is excited to share this work with the community now that this series of upgrades are complete. Located at 108 Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich, across from picturesque Binney Park, the church is fully accessible for the recital and the luncheon. For more information, contact Craig Symons at 203-637-1791 extension 822, or email him at [email protected].