The Parish of Saint Matthew: The Episcopal Church of Pacific Palisades


The C. B. Fisk Pardee Memorial Organ

C.B. Fisk Pardee Memorial OrganFollowing the disastrous Brentwood/Malibu fires of October, 1978, in which the former church building of Saint Matthew’s was destroyed, the Parish set about planning and working toward a new worship space. The firm of Moore, Ruble, Yudell was selected and, after a series of workshops with the congregation, a design was settled upon and construction began. Concurrently, a dedicated organ committee, with Thomas Foster as Consultant and Eugene Romig as Chairman, began researching the work of American organ builders. Having listened to the instruments of several significant builders, C.B. Fisk of Gloucester, Massachussetts, ( was selected.

The contract for the organ was signed in 1979, prior to that of the new church building, but because of the long delivery time of the C.B. Fisk firm, the organ was not expected until 1985, approximately three years after the scheduled completion of the new church building.

HarroldOrganIn the meantime, the congregation worshipped in the school gymnasium but the The Rev. Arnold Fenton, Rector of the Parish at the time, insisted that the congregation would not be without an organ during the interim. As a result, the congregation commissioned a single-manual, six-stop tracker organ from Los Angeles builder Greg Harrold. This instrument remains in the church today and is used for accompanying, continuo, antiphonal and solo music.

The Fisk Organ, a gift to the church and the community by Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt S. Pardee, Mr. and Mrs. J. Douglas Pardee, Mr. and Mrs. George M. Pardee Jr., and Marjorie Pardee Farrand, was given in memory of their mother, Mary Alice Swift Pardee.

Opus 86 is a mechanical-action instrument of 25 voices and 37 ranks distributed among two manuals and pedal (click here for the organ specification). The console is of mahogany and is attached to the 33-foot, red oak, freestanding case. Keys are of grenadil and sharps are of rosewood capped with cow-bone.

The specifications reflect an eclectic instrument – classic Charles Fisk – but one based on the concept of an expanded Classical-French design (Opus 86 was the last organ designed by Fisk before his untimely death in 1983).

organAs is typical of Fisk instruments, the organ was completed and assembled in the shop in Gloucester in December, 1984, played and then disassembled and shipped to California (through one of the worst January snowstorms of the last century!). Once here, the organ was unloaded by dozens of members of the Parish and reassembled over a period of several weeks by five members of the Fisk crew. Voicing continued from February through May, 1985 and the organ was dedicated in a series of recitals in May and June, 1985. Thomas Neenan, his teacher David Britton, and Britton’s teacher David Craighead played the dedicatory recitals.


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