Ann Stookey, the longtime Chestnut Hill resident who passed away suddenly in 2012, has left a remarkable musical legacy to the community. Thanks to a fund established in her name, the resounding tones of the landmark Aeolian-Skinner organ at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church will continue to be enjoyed by church worshippers and concert-goers well into the foreseeable future.
A gift to Saint Paul’s of $250,000 from Ann’s husband, Joe Waz, came with the challenge to raise a matching amount from friends of music at Saint Paul’s. Two years later, that goal has been accomplished, and the Ann Stookey Fund for Music at Saint Paul’s stands ready to contribute to the cost of ongoing maintenance and periodic repairs and enhancements to the organ.
Pipe organs are highly complex instruments. The one at Saint Paul’s has more than 6,000 pipes and many parts that must be maintained and repaired as they age. Built in 1956 and the last organ “voiced” by the celebrated Donald G. Harrison of the Aeolian-Skinner Company, the organ at Saint Paul’s is no exception to the ravages of time, and is in need of care and attention.
“It is hard to overstate the significance of the Ann Stookey Fund in allowing us to take proper care of this historic organ with its lavish sounds from the baroque period,” said Rector Cliff Cutler. “The fund will ensure that this organ is used and enjoyed by future generations.”
According to Saint Paul’s Director of Music and Organist Zach Fritsch-Hemenway, planning can now begin for cleaning and refurbishment, as well as the completion of some missing pipework.
“This project will improve the tonal integrity of the instrument, adding richness and fullness to the sound of the organ,” he said.
Already one of the finest organs on the East Coast, it is the centerpiece of our vibrant music program at Saint Paul’s. Now we can dream of making it a nationally-recognized instrument that draws pipe organ students and enthusiasts from far and near. Ann Stookey would be so very pleased.
The instrument was recently showcased through the Ann Stookey Memorial Organ Recital series, performed by talented organ scholars from music conservatories around the country. The final recital of this series takes place on Sunday, May 10, at 4:30 p.m. and features Karl Robson of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
For more information about the organ, recital events, and making a donation to the Ann Stookey Fund for Music at Saint Paul’s please visit www.stpaulschestnuthill.org/music, or contact the Parish Office at 215-242-2055.