When the late Charles B. Fisk, a Harvard-educated physicist-turned-organ-maker, installed the first organ in Memorial Church at his alma mater, he wanted it situated in back of the congregation. For various reasons, his wish was not granted and the organ was installed in the front of the church in 1967.
When C.B. Fisk Inc. of Glouceseter built an updated organ for the Harvard church, however, Opus 139 was placed in the back of the building when it was installed last year, and the late Fisk’s wish finally was granted.
Now this story, and the legacy of the Gloucester organ-making shop, is the subject of the documentary, “To Hear the Music,” by Dennis Lanson. The film will be screened in Rockport at the Shalin Liu Performance Center on Thursday.
The business card for the film describes it as a documentary “about making a quality product in an age of ersatz.”
“To Hear the Music” is the story of the life so far of the grand Opus 139, beginning with the organ’s conception and continuing to its inaugural concert on Easter 2102 at Harvard’s Memorial Church.
Fisk, who died in 1983, apprenticed with Walter Holtkamp Sr., who was at the time the most avant garde of American organ builders. Fisk went on to become a partner and later sole owner of the Andover Organ Company in Andover. And in 1961 he established C. B. Fisk near his childhood summer home on Cape Ann.
“The first organ (for Harvard Memorial Church) was very important to him, and the second one was important to us as a company to revisit this venue,” said Greg Bover, project manager and C.B. Fisk’s current vice president of operations.
More than 40,000 hours of labor went into the creation of Opus 139.
Over the years, the Gloucester organ-building company has been featured on television programs such as “Charles Kuralt” and “Chronicle,” as well as being filmed on an informal level. “To Hear the Music” is the first professional high-quality film about the unique shop and its founder.