A Cornucopia of Preludes and Postludes!

The Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter is sponsoring a “A Cornucopia of Preludes and Postludes” on Monday, March 9 at the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit. Members are encouraged to bring accessible organ literature suitable for a liturgical prelude or postlude to share. The event begins at 7:30 PM and is open to the public. First Presbyterian is located at 300 School Street in Clarks Summit.

Dedicatory Recital of new Solo division at St. Stephen’s

Canon Mark Laubach, organist and choirmaster of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, will be playing a dedicatory recital on Sunday, March 29, showcasing the new solo division of the parish’s magnificent Berghaus pipe organ. The new Solo division includes six new ranks of pipes that imitate orchestral sounds – strings (Gamba and Gamba Celeste), flute (Doppelflöte), English horn, French horn, and English Tuba – and one old rank, the Clarinet (the pipes are 100+ years old!). The division also boasts a new set of Deagan tubular chimes and a Harp stop.

Here’s what else you can look forward to hearing on the program…

Eugène Gigout, Grand Choeur Dialogue – highlighting the new Solo English Tuba and French horn in dialogue with the full main organ.

Herbert Howells, Psalm Prelude, Set Two, #1 (Psalm 130, v. 1 – De profundis) – a deeply moving tone poem in the great Anglican tradition, showcasing this instrument’s noticeable “English accent!”

G. F. Handel, Water Music Suite (arr. by Carl McKinley, adapted by M. Laubach) – transcriptions of five tuneful movements from Handel’s beloved suite of dances written for the riparian entertainment of England’s King George I.

Leo Sowerby, Carillon – this lush and touching piece will give us a unique chance to hear the new chimes and harp.

Three hymn preludes will offer us a chance to sing the hymns, each followed by these exciting settings for organ.

Fantasy on “Praise to the Lord, (Lobe den Herren) by Neils Gade (19th century Danish composer)

Gospel Prelude on “What a friend we have in Jesus” by William Bolcom (a unique blend of black gospel, jazz, and contemporary classic organ composition by one of America’s most gifted living composers)

Toccata on “Now thank we all our God” by Egil Hovland (living Norwegian organist, choral conductor, and composer)

The dramatic conclusion of the program will be a single featured work, a spectacular masterpiece rarely performed live – Franz Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam”. This is a truly “orchestral” work that will show off the full tonal and dynamic scope of our instrument. With plenty of virtuosic fireworks, this piece is sure to rivet the attention of all present, despite its length (just shy of 30 minutes long)!

The recital will begin at 4:00 PM on Sunday, March 29, 2009. The event is free and open to all, although attendees are encourages to make a free-will offering in support of the NEW HOPE CAMPAIGN of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. NEW HOPE is providing vital support to our companion diocese of Kajo Keji in the Sudan, as well as to social outreach ministries here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, including St. Stephen’s Reach Ministry to those in need in our community.

Lenten Organ Recitals in Wilkes-Barre

Since the 1920’s, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Wilkes-Barre, has hosted an annual series of weekly Lenten Services for the Community, led by clergy from participating Wilkes-Barre churches of various denominations, both Catholic and Protestant. Over the years, this series has grown in popularity and now includes organ recitals (at 11:30 a.m.) the service (at 12 p.m.), and a soup and sandwich lunch (immediately after the service) for $4.00 in the Auditorium of St. Stephen’s Parish House.

The featured organ recitalists this year represent a splendid group of both local and regional performers. The list follows here ….

Wednesday, March 4
Jane Bourdow
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Alexandria VA

Wednesday, March 11
Victor Fields
Trinity United Church of Christ, York PA

Wednesday, March 18
Stephen Buzard
Trinity Episcopal Church, Princeton NJ

Wednesday, March 25
Stephen Williams
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allentown PA

Wednesday, April 1
Kevin O’Malia
First United Methodist Church of Germantown, PA

Wednesday, April 8
Alain Truche
Covenant Presbyterian Church, Scranton PA

The series of ecumenical services this year will feature the theme, “The Beatitudes”. Officiants and homilists will include clergy from participating Wilkes-Barre churches, including Central United Methodist, Christ United Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, Good Shepherd Lutheran, St. Clement’s & St. Peter’s Episcopal, St. Nicholas’ Roman Catholic, St. Stephen’s, Unity, and Westminster Presbyterian. The organist and music coordinator for these services is Mark Laubach, organist and choirmaster of St. Stephen’s. The noon services will also feature special music presented by gifted individuals and ensembles from our community. These will include the Marywood University Chamber Singers, the Wyoming Seminary Madrigal Singers, mezzo-soprano Carol Tome, oboist Thomas Heinze, the Misericordia University Chamber Singers, soprano Judy Ann Curtis, and pianist John Curtis.

The lunches that follow each Wednesday’s service are provided by volunteers from the various participating churches. A donation of $4.00 per person is requested for lunch.

Proceeds from offerings received at this series are given to many organizations and institutions that provide food, clothing, and other forms of assistance to those in need in our community. St. Stephen’s Church is located on South Franklin Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre.