Providence United Methodist Church is now the home of a noted Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1472 organ. The new instrument, using Aeolian-Skinner as its core, replaces the Zimmer organ installed in the church’s sanctuary in the 1960s.
“This replacement project is a momentous event for our church and our music ministry,” comments Dr. Adam Ward, Director of Music Ministries at Providence UMC. “We’ve struggled with our existing organ because it was not the appropriate instrument for our space. We’re fortunate that the opportunity to acquire an instrument of such excellence has opened up to us.”
Opus 1472’s move from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. was completed June 15, 2012, several months after Phil Parkey, President and Tonal Director of Parkey OrganBuilders, had contacted Dr. Ward with the opportunity for Providence UMC to purchase the instrument. Interestingly enough, the Aeolian-Skinner’s removal was precipitated by the same size mismatch issues that plagued Providence UMC’s Zimmer organ: inadequate scale for the space where it is installed.
In both instances, a larger more powerful instrument should have been appropriated to the spaces and in both instances budgetary limitations kept the best instrument choices from being made. It is Providence UMC’s good fortune that its worship space is the perfect fit for the Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1472.
“Bringing this instrument to our sanctuary reinforces the prominence that we place on music as a vital worship element,” said Rev. John Fitzgerald, Senior Pastor at Providence UMC. “I’ve been impressed and elated with the response from the church for this opportunity. Churches, in general, are not known for rapid actions when it comes to raising and spending money. However, our members understood the significance of this opportunity and chose to seize it.”
The process of refurbishing an instrument of this stature and caliber is quite an undertaking. When Opus 1472 was in the Parkey facility in Duluth, Georgia, Parkey’s experts who rebuilt and refurbished the instrument to flourish in the Providence UMC space.
Parkey’s construction work on Opus 1472 includes: