Ecumenical Lenten Services and Organ Recitals in Wilkes-Barre

Since the 1920s, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, has been host to an annual ecumenical Lenten series of services and organ recitals for downtown Wilkes-Barre and its surrounding communities. The 2013 Series continues this coming Wednesday, February 20th, with an organ recital at 11:30 AM, followed by an ecumenical Lenten Service at 12:00 PM.

As in past years, the 2013 Lenten series will involve clergy, musicians, and laity from Catholic and Protestant churches throughout Wilkes-Barre and the Wyoming Valley. A soup and sandwich lunch is served each week following the Lenten Service, with a suggested donation of $4.00 per person. Members of the participating congregations are the hosts for these lunches. Offerings received at this year’s services and lunches will support the Men’s Homeless Shelter in Wilkes-Barre.

This Wednesday’s Organ Recital at 11:30 AM will be presented by Peter Stoltzfus Berton, a native of Wilkes-Barre who grew up in Lancaster PA. Mr. Berton studied at The University of Michigan School of Music and the Yale University School of Music. Integral to his training as a church musician was serving as Assistant Organist at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit, Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven CT, and Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City. His principal teachers have been David Bartlett, Robert Glasgow, Gerre Hancock, Charles Krigbaum, Walden Moore, Thomas Murray and Carl E. Schroeder. Prior to becoming Music Director of St. John’s Episcopal Church, West Hartford CT in 2010, he held music director positions at All Saints’ Church, Worcester MA, Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos CA, and Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn Heights NY. He is active as a composer, choral clinician, organ recitalist and recording artist (JAV Recordings), and is a singing member of and organist for Mastersingers USA, a men’s touring ensemble.

The Service at 12 noon will be led by The Reverend Daniel C. Gunn, Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre. The preacher will be The Reverend Dr. Robert Zanicky, Pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre. Special music will be presented by Ellen Rutkowski, mezzo-soprano, and led by St. Stephen’s Organist and Choirmaster, Canon Mark Laubach.


St. Stephen’s presents Ken Cowan to honor the tenth anniversary of its Berghaus pipe organ

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, will celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the dedication of its Berghaus pipe organ with a concert by renowned organist Ken Cowan on Sunday, March 10 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 and $10.00 for students, senior citizens (65+), and WVIA members. Tickets may be purchased at the door or from the St. Stephen’s office Monday through Thursday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Ken Cowan is one of North America’s finest concert organists and is praised by audiences and critics alike for his dazzling artistry, impeccable technique and imaginative programming. His recent performances include appearances at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall, Spivey Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. He is also featured regularly in concerts and at organ conventions throughout the world, most notably at the conventions of the Organ Historical Society and the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

It was Cowan’s musicality, technical mastery, expertise in transcriptions of orchestral works and creative programming that led Canon Mark Laubach to select him as the perfect organist to highlight the anniversary the Berghaus pipe organ. In a recent concert review, Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News wrote, “Cowan was at his most dazzling in transcriptions of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Sounds shifted, swelled and diminished in apparently limitless variety, all while Cowan dispatched dizzying arrays of notes.”

In 2000, the “Polish the Gem” Organ Campaign was officially heralded with a gala concert by the Choir of Westminster Abbey from London, England. The dedicated efforts of the many involved in the “Polish the Gem” Organ Campaign was completed in 2003 and resulted in the acquisition of a glorious new retrofitted Berghaus pipe organ, which has become the cornerstone of the music at St. Stephen’s.

A truly stunning instrument, the Berghaus pipe organ enhances the Anglican liturgical tradition as well as secular transcriptions. Purchasing a new or newly refurbished Berghaus pipe organ is a “once-in-a-lifetime” project and few churches have the opportunity to do so. Berghaus organs are designed as aural and visual masterpieces. They must be exciting to the ear as well as the eye and are built specific to the space they will occupy. Berghaus Pipe Organs were the founded in 1967 by Leonard G. Berghaus, a gifted educator and organist whose early passion for the pipe organ prompted him to seek out extensive training in the art of organ building with a special emphasis on tonal design, voicing and the various forms of key and stop actions.

St. Stephen’s Pro Cathedral was built in 1897 and consecrated in 1899. It is the fifth Church edifice built in the same location and was designed by Philadelphia architect Charles Marquedant Burns, Jr. (1838-1922). St. Stephen’s has a rich history and Anglican tradition. Current services are held on Sundays at 8 AM and 10:30 AM under the leadership of Father Daniel Gunn. This concert is presented by the Music at St. Stephen’s Committee.

Chapter meeting cancelled

After watching the weather forecast and seeing that the height of the snowstorm will be tonight into tomorrow morning, we are canceling the chapter meeting which was originally scheduled for Saturday morning at 11:30 at Terry’s Diner in Moosic.