Editorial: Restored organ awaits its debut

  • Workers disassembled and labeled every part as they took apart the organ in the First Congregational Church in Ashfield for restoration back in July 2018. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

Published: 9/6/2020 3:28:25 PM

Here are some brief thoughts on recent happenings in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region.

Restored organ awaits its debut

In 1903, when this historic George W. Reed tracker organ was built, a church organ was the grandest (and loudest) sound most people had ever heard, befitting its role in extolling the glory of God. Such was the case for the instrument recently restored by the First Congregational Church of Ashfield, where it has resided since 1932.The Make a Joyful Noise campaign raised $300,000 from church members, friends and the community. Over a two-year period, the instrument was disassembled, restored and reassembled by William Czelusniak and a team of workers from Czelusniak et Dugal Inc. in Northampton. Much of the organ was rebuilt on site as components were delivered to the church one or a few at a time. Facade pipes were decorated by artisans within the church.

In prepandemic times, an organ restoration would have been the occasion for a grand concert showcasing its renewed capabilities and thanking its fans and supporters who helped fund the project. These days, such a celebration must await a return to normalcy. Now its pipes resound in an empty sanctuary, but one day those pews will be filled with organ lovers from the Northeast and beyond, who will come to Ashfield to hear an instrument that the Organ Historical Society awarded the prestigious Historic Pine Organ Award.

Meanwhile, church organist Amy Roberts-Crawford is no doubt preparing a concert that showcases its full range of sounds. Even these days, when electronic amplifiers can produce volume that deafens the ears, the pipes of an organ still produce sounds that resonate in listeners’ souls. We can hardly wait to hear it.

Radio personality Bobby C shifts gears

Fans of “Flashback to the ’70s and ’80s” — a weekend staple on WHAI for more than two decades — will have to migrate to new entertainment venues such as podcasts and FaceBook in order to follow their favorite disc jockey, Bobby Campbell. Bobby C, as he is better known, was a casualty of the pandemic, as WHAI laid off part-timers back in March. But his fans are already on board with Bobby C’s latest venture, a nightly update on Facebook Live to talk about what’s going on in our community, and no doubt they will discover his upcoming podcast to talk about issues in “regular people’s lives.”

No one does this better than Bobby C, a Greenfield native who’s had the pulse of the community all his life. “I want to make a difference in others’ lives, whether by playing music that makes them feel good … or in a more direct way, by providing much-needed food,” such as his Thanksgiving turkey fundraiser.

When things get back to normal, Bobby C will be back in the DJ seat at weddings and other larger events. “I’ve always had a voice in the Pioneer Valley and I don’t intend to stop now,” he said to our reporter, Anita Fritz. His many fans will make sure of that.

Field trips inspire love of science, nature

Thinking back on your school days, the things you remember are likely times you spent out of the classroom: a simple walk to a brook for the little ones, or a trip to a fossil site for older students. In fact, today’s environmental scientists and green activists probably got their inspiration early from teachers like Jay Loubris, who has taught sixth grade at Northfield Elementary School for 28 years.

Loubris, who is retiring at the end of the coming school year, was honored by the Northfield Open Space Committee with its Citizen Stewardship Award, in part for his field trips for students. “The values you work to instill in our young residents is just what we need, member Julia Blyth said. Visits to the Boston Museum of Science, whitewater rafting and programs raising and releasing trout, to name a few, introduce students to the natural world and their role in preserving it.

Loubris also leads the 20-week-long afterschool STEM RAYS program for students in grades four through six. He said the purpose of the program is “to get students outside as much as possible” to interact with their local environment. “I’ve got former students who are now in their late 30s and they still remember a lot of the things that we did,” Loubris said.

Selectboard member Barbara “Bee” Jacque said such experiences likely have had a lasting impression on the youngsters, some of whom have begun science careers of their own. Loubris can take pride in creating a generation of citizen stewards.




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