Allen Jon Hill graduated with a Major in Liturgical Music and organ in 1971 from the Hartt School, University of Hartford, having studied with I. Albert Russell and the late, John C. Holtz. He was Director of Music at Emmanuel Church, Newport, RI, from Christ the King Sunday, November 23, 2008 through August of 2013, and formerly taught during the 2009 spring semester, as adjunct faculty at Salve Regina University, Newport, teaching organ at Emmanuel Church. He is now Parish Musician at www.ZionLutheranPortland.org, Portland, CT, since October of 2013.
Allen's interest with pipe organs started in the late 1960's, growing up and practicing on a 1961 II/26 Austin pipe organ in his hometown of Manchester, CT, at Concordia Lutheran Church. In 1970, while attending the Hartt School, Mr. Hill helped G. Edgar Gress, of Gress~Miles Pipe Organs, install the III/37 rank 'teaching-practice organ,' in the Hartt School Organ Studio at the University of Hartford. (Mr. Gress held the patent for his famed non-bounce electro-mechanical chest action valve, which later spawned much debate in The American Organist during the 1980's). This installation introduced him to classic-style, open-toe voicing. Despite the many opposing views on the subject, the valve action Mr. Gress patented allowed for low cut-up, 'open toe' voicing with very little nicking on very low wind pressures, which was very much in demand at that time.
In 1972 he helped install the Gress~Miles III/62 rank pipe organ at the South Church in New Britain, CT., home of the renowned Music Series at South Church and the founding location of CONCORA by Artistic Director Richard Coffey. Allen served on the Music Series Steering Committee at South Church for five years, three of which he served as Chair.
For over 24 years from October 1979, Allen was employed at Foley-Baker, Inc., Quality Pipe Organ Services of Tolland, CT, and was Vice-President of that firm for over seventeen of those 24 years. With them he serviced pipe organs throughout New England and supervised the care of many large instruments including the magnum opus 1253 IV/234 rank Aeolian-Skinner at The First Church of Christ, Scientist (The Mother Church), Boston, MA. This supervisory position included writing major survey and condition reports about the Mother Church organ and its counterpart in the Original Edifice of the church.
At the Mother Church he met Lawrence Phelps, designer of The Mother Church organs. Working closely with Mr. Phelps, Allen oversaw the re-leathering and complete reconditioning contracts undertaken by the Foley-Baker staff. His work also included the hands-on, tonal finishing of pipes during the final stages of the project with Dan Kingman of Austin Pipe Organs, Inc. Later, after the organ's completion, Allen addressed the 2001 Boston gathering of the A.I.O., American Institute of Organ Builders, convention for a lecture-demonstration of the instrument with Eric Huenneke, one of the organists of The Mother Church, performing at the console.
From 1996 through 2004, he tuned and supervised the work on the III/114 rank E. M. / Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ at Trinity Church, Copley Square in Boston, MA. Along side regular tuning and maintenance, the organ sustained serious water damage during a nearly disastrous fire in the attic above the Solo division. That portion of the organ was completely rebuilt, including new pipe chests to replace the ones damaged beyond repair. Other work included the complete leathering and refurbishment of the Gallery Swell division, the complete digital renovation of the console, and installation of an all new digital relay system between the console and the organ's five separate organ chambers.
At Trinity he prepared the organ tuning and was the on-call technician for the 2001 Christmas recording of 'A Choral Christmas,' conducted by then Music Director (now Music Director, Emeritus) Brian Jones and accompanied by current Director of Music, Michael Kleinschmidt. Hailed by critics around the country as outstanding, the recording aptly demonstrates the best of the church choral art, supported by the fabulous and finely tuned Skinner pipe organ.
Among his other service and tuning credits are the Aeolian-Skinner at St. Paul's Cathedral on Tremont Street as well as major organ reconditioning-installations throughout Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island, such as The First Baptist Church in America, Providence, RI. In addition, he prepared the Austin organ at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, Glastonbury, CT, in preparation for the ABC News Television program 'Receive the Gift - A New England Christmas,' which was nationally televised on Christmas Day 1998.
While at Foley-Baker, Allen worked closely with the entire staff in all of various facilities, including pipe organ care and stewardship, co-designing tonal specifications, and writing a number of the company's major reconditioning contracts, all of which round out his total pipe organ technical expertise. He continues to maintain that expertise by attending workshops and seminars, which have included attending the May 2004 reed-voicing seminar of the American Institute of Organ Builders, held at the Reuter pipe organ factory in Lawrence Kansas.
Among his tuning credits, he has been tuner and technical organ adviser for the six major organ and choral CDs. Allen has tuned for major choral programs sung by the Yale Camerata and Chorus Angelicus of Paul Halley's, Joyful Noise, Inc., at St John's Episcopal Church, Waterbury, CT, where resides the III/60 rank McManis pipe organ William Barnes wrote about in his The American Organ. The CD's include:
While in England, he visited the pipe organ shops of the Mander Pipe Organ Company, which restored the Royal Albert Hall organ and P & S Organ Supply, builder of pipe organ components for builders world-wide, including the new manual keyboards for The Mother Church, Boston, MA.
Upon his return to his work, he began Pipe Organ Consulting to promote and strengthen the positive servicing of pipe instruments throughout the southern New England area and New York. He now tunes, services, and consults with church committees and organists throughout the Southern New England area and New York, about pipe organs and all aspects of their construction and care. With a growing number of independent pipe organ service and tuning associates (five with whom he previously worked), P.O.C. regularly maintains pipe organs from the Hudson River Valley in New York, all the way to those throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
His outside musical interests included membership from the fall of 2004 through 2007, in the renowned City Singers of Hartford, a 24 voice, semi-professional chamber chorus conducted by Artistic Director Suzanne Gates. With CitySingers he was tenor section leader and sang solo in a variety of anthems, which included John Tavener's, Christmas anthem, 'Today the Virgin.' In his spare time, when not tuning, playing, attending, singing in or for a service or choral concert, he enjoys riding roller coasters.
The following is a brief list of church references that Pipe Organ Consulting has serviced since opening in 2004, in the Connecticut area:
Please see Pipe Organ Consulting's Recent Work List