The First Congregational Church of Madison is celebrating the successful restoration of their historic M.P. Möller pipe organ after nearly a year of work. A special re-dedication concert will be held on Friday, January 17th, 2020 at 7:00 pm (snowdate of Sunday, January 19th at 3:00 pm) featuring Thomas Murray. An internationally-known recitalist and University Organist at Yale for the past 38 years, he was a strong advocate for the organ when it was first restored in the 1980s and also during this most recent restoration. A free-will offering will be collected to fund future organ maintenance and programming.
Beginning on January 2nd and ending in November, the A. Thompson-Allen Organ company of New Haven painstakingly replaced thousands of bits of worn-out, brittle leather, refurbished many pipes and has brought the organ back to “like new” condition.
The contract with the M.P. Möller Organ Company of Hagerstown, Maryland was signed on October 29th, 1929 – the very day the stock market crashed, heralding the beginning of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, the Madison church went forward with the project, and its completion in March, 1930 was lauded in both local and national press as a triumph for the congregation and community. Since then, it has become one of the most renowned unaltered organs in Connecticut, drawing admiration from musicians and listeners across the region.
The choice of the Möller organ was instrumental in attracting an outstanding new music director in 1929, Leon Beckwith, who served the Madison church in that capacity for 42 years. It was also a big attraction for their current music director, Nathan Bayreuther, a skilled musician who, in addition to playing at the church each Sunday and for numerous organ recitals, has played at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and other venues across New England. With his assistance, funds for the incredibly labor-intensive restoration – nearly $300,000 – were raised within an astounding two months, a testament to how much the organ is appreciated by the public.
The A. Thompson-Allen Company, one of the premier organ restoration companies in the nation, began maintaining the instrument in 1957. Now co-owned by Nicholas Thompson-Allen and Joseph Dzeda, they had performed another thorough overhaul in the mid-1980s, although the leather material, while the best available at the time, had a shorter life-span than the original leather. Thankfully, the superior leather and other materials used in the current restoration will allow the organ to go without another major renovation for the next 50 or 60 years.
We hope you will join us for this special event!