Our Musical Instruments
The First Church in Belmont is proud to have several top-notch musical instruments available for use in worship services and special events.
The First Church organ was built by the Canadian company, Casavant-Freres and was dedicated on October 26, 1930. Katherine Atkins gave the organ in memory of her husband Edwin Farnsworth Atkins, who was Parish Chair when The First Church building was dedicated in 1890. The organ installation was part of a renovation to the Sanctuary that included the addition of the choir loft where the organ console is located and refinishing of the church interiors. The architect for the renovation was church member, H. Thaxter Underwood. An article in the Belmont Citizen at the time recounted that the organ “…is one of the finest instruments in any of the churches of Greater Boston…and the instrument includes 27 stops, with an average of about 60 speaking pipes in each stop, there being 1619 speaking pipes in all, ranging from the great sixteen foot bourdon to diminutive whistles hardly larger than a lead pencil. In addition, there is an organ harp with 61 notes and chimes with 25 notes. The instrument is electrically driven and has great range and variety.”
In 1983, E.M. Skinner Organ Co. added several ranks (549 pipes), i.e. four stops, including three mixtures. The instrument now has a total of 31 stops and 2,168 pipes.
In 2001 Richard Nickerson of Nickerson Pipe Organ Service in Melrose rebuilt (re-leathered) the organ. In 2009, the instrument was completely cleaned and the façade pipes were repainted.
The First Church has two concert grand pianos and two upright pianos.
A Steinway & Sons Model A concert grand (ca. 1911) graces the Sanctuary. This piano was purchased by First Church in 1995. The Honduras mahogany case was beautifully refinished by Acme Piano in 2007.
A Steinway & Sons Model B concert grand is located in the Parish Hall. This instrument dates from 1907 but was acquired by the church in the late 1960s. The piano was given by members and friends of The First Church in memory of Marion D. Gardner (1894-1967).
The two upright pianos are located on the ground level of the church. One is a Baldwin spinet and the other a fine Steinway upright.
The harpsichord is located at the front of the Sanctuary. This instrument, a copy of a Taskin double manual harpsichord, was built by long-time First Church member and physicist Harrison E. Radford. It was given to the church by Alfa and Harrison Radford. It was dedicated in April 1979 at a Chamber Music Concert that became an annual event held every June.