'Voicing the woods': Museum showcasing woodworker's instruments

October 19, 2016

Gloucester Daily Times / Times Staff

An exhibition showcasing the master skills of a Gloucester woodworker opens at the Cape Ann Museum this weekend.

A public opening artist reception for  "Voicing the Woods: Jeremy Adams, Instrument Maker" will take place Saturday, Oct. 22, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the museum for Adams, one of the most gifted musical instrument makers in New England.

The exhibition, which will be held in the museum’s 1,500 square foot special exhibitions gallery, will include a one-stop chamber organ, a demonstration organ chest, a 1995 clavichord and a selection of harpsichords, each built in its entirety by Adams in his Danvers workshop.

A selection of Adams’s furniture will be displayed in the museum’s 1804 Captain Elias Davis House, offering a contrast to the period furniture in the home.

A keyboard player from early childhood, Adams took his formal training with Roland Sturgis, Gregory Tucker and Melville Smith at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. In the 1960s, Adams began a six-year apprenticeship at William Dowd’s Cambridge harpsichord shop, where he gained recognition for his skills as a musician and developed his talent as a fine woodworker. Dowd established his workshop in the 1950s with harpsichord maker Frank Hubbard, engaging with the international movement to revive historic practices of performance and instrument building, according to a museum press release.

Adams continued to hone his skills in reed voicing and tonal finishing in an organ building apprenticeship at the Gloucester workshop of Charles Fisk, working on signature instruments at Old West Methodist in Boston and Harvard University, among others. In 1969 Adams opened his own workshop on the North Shore.

Adams’s harpsichords, clavichords and pipe organs can be found in public and private collections around the world, including the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston; the Sapporo Episcopal Cathedral and the Kyoto Fukkatu Kyokai (Kyoto Episcopal Church) in Japan; Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury; the Waring School in Beverly; Maple Street Congregational Church in Danvers; and the Annisquam Village Church in Gloucester. Restorations and expansions of existing instruments include work on Martha’s Vineyard and in Barbados.

"The design and construction of Adams’s furniture and objets d’art evolved, in part, from the refined casework required by the musical instruments, and in part from a lifelong interest in painting and sculpture," according to the release.

Photographs by Paul Cary Goldberg complement the instrument exhibit and document Adams’s studio and work process. 


Sign up for e-news