Join us for our Spring Gathering at St. Peter’s Cathedral


The public is invited to attend our chapter’s upcoming Spring Gathering at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, on Friday, April 26, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

The evening will begin with Easter Vespers in the Cathedral. After dinner, Peggy Haas Howell will present a fascinating lecture-demonstration of organs and organ music in the United States and Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries. Peggy is Organist and Choirmaster at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lynchburg, VA, and is the Music Director of Cantate Children’s and Youth Choir. She has been a member of the American Guild of Organists since the age of sixteen, and is currently Dean of the Lynchburg Chapter.

Tickets are $14.00 per person for non-members and $12.00 for AGO members. Please RSVP before April 22, 2019 by calling Raphael Micca, Dean, at 570-301-9253 or email dean@agopane.org.

Job Opportunity: St. Paul Lutheran, Tannersville

St. Paul Lutheran, Tannersville seeks a part-time (10-15 hours per week) individual(s) to fill the choir director and accompanist roles. Versatility in playing the organ (2 manual Allen Digital Computer Organ), piano (Young Chang baby grand), and electric keyboard is desired. Two choirs (adult vocal and bells) provide musical leadership for one Sunday liturgical service (9:00 am) as well as evening Lenten services and weddings/funerals. First Sunday of the month is contemporary worship with praise band and may or may not request keyboard input, which would have separate compensation scale. Salary is commensurate with experience and level of musicianship. Please send resume and request for job descriptions to St. Paul Lutheran Church, attn. Personnel Committee, P. O. Box 196, Tannersville, PA 18372, or by e-mail: parishcoordinator@stpaultannersvillepa.org.

Celebrate America!

Join us for a concert of American music at St. John’s Church in downtown Pittston on Monday, July 2 at 7:00 p.m.. Members of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists will perform selections on the church’s pipe organ accompanied by a brass quartet and a community choir. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

Singers needed for “Celebrate America” concert

Members of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists are planning a concert of patriotic music entitled “Celebrate America!” on Monday, July 2 at 7:00 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston. Chapter members are hoping to form a combined choir which will sing the National Anthem and patriotic hymns during the concert. The choir will be under the direction of Raphael Micca, Dean, and accompanied by organist Michael Sowa, music director at Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish. Anyone who loves to sing is invited to take part in this concert! Rehearsals will be held at Saint John’s on Monday, June 18 and Monday, June 25 at 7:00 p.m. If you are interested in singing, please e-mail Mike Sowa at msowa126@gmail.com, or call him at 570-881-2301 by Monday, June 4.

Tips and Tricks for Organists

Church of Christ Uniting, 190 South Sprague Ave, Kingston, will host “Tips and Tricks for Organists” on Friday, May 4 at 6:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter, American Guild of Organists.

Participants will learn how to set appropriate registrations for hymns and solo works, discover how different combinations of sounds can affect the mood of various organ selections, and find out how to maximize their church’s organ resources, even when the initial resources are limited or humble. Both beginning organists and experienced players will benefit from the discussion. Pianists interested in learning to play the organ are especially encouraged to attend.

The workshop will be led by Mr. Carl Ruck, Minister of Music at Church of Christ Uniting. Mr. Ruck holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Mansfield University and a Master of Music in Organ Performance from Ithaca College School of Music.

The event is free and open to the public. Musicians of all denominations are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Raphael Micca, Dean, at 570-301-9253 or email dean@agopane.org.

Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza is coming to downtown Wilkes-Barre!

The pipe organ has been called the “King of Instruments.” The sounds of the pipe organ have inspired worshippers for centuries. Great composers have written countless works for the instrument. Pipe organs have been installed in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and theaters. The American Guild of Organists is passionate about the pipe organ and we want to share our love with a new generation.

Join us on Sunday, April 15 at First Presbyterian Church of Wilkes-Barre from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. for Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza. Participants will receive a behind the scenes tour of the instrument in addition to a chance to play it themselves (and eat some pizza!). All are welcome to attend. Students currently studying the piano are encouraged to bring a piece to play on the organ.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR PEDALS, PIPES, AND PIZZA!

Fall Gathering at the Lutheran Ministry Center

Our Fall Gathering was a beautiful time of fellowship, prayer, and learning. The evening began with a Service of Light featuring The Lutheran Academy choir and a message from Pastor Kristian Bjornstad. Dinner and fellowship followed and the evening concluded with a fascinating presentation by organist, musicologist, and chapter member Dr. Sarah Davies on “The Organ as a Sign of Confession in the First and Second Reformations, 1524-1624.” Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Gathering and to all who helped make it possible! A special thanks to our friends at Peace Lutheran Church and The Lutheran Academy for being such gracious hosts.

The Organ as a Sign of Confession

The Lutheran Ministry Center, 1546 Monsey Avenue, Scranton, will host the Fall Gathering of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter, American Guild of Organists on Friday, November 17 at 6:00 p.m. The program will begin with Vespers followed by a buffet-style dinner and a lecture on “The Organ as a Sign of Confession in the First and Second Reformations, 1524-1624” presented by Dr. Sarah Davies, organist and musicologist.

Dr. Davies earned her Ph.D. at New York University with a dissertation on the geistliche repertoire in Renaissance Swiss and German tablatures for lute and organ (2010); her Masters thesis at Rutgers University was on William Byrd’s “My Ladye Nevells Booke” of 1591 (1973). Since returning to academe after more than twenty years in the New York music business, Dr. Davies has given more than twenty papers at musicology, interdisciplinary, German studies and keyboard conferences in America and Europe. Her recent presentation on the organ as a confessional sign in Germany and Switzerland will be published in 2017 by the University of Leuven. Her paper on the organ as the “Devil’s Bagpipe” was published in Budapest, and she is a contributor to New Grove. She is currently involved in an ongoing project on British, American and German organ sermons (Orgelpredigten) of the 17th and 18th centuries, and on the place of the organ in German Lutheran service orders (Kirchenordnungen).

The program is open to the public; AGO membership is not required. There is no cost to attend Vespers. Suggested donation for the dinner is $15 per person. Please register by Friday, November 3 by calling Raphael Micca, Dean, at 570-301-9253 or email dean@agopane.org.

Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza is coming to Wilkes-Barre!

PPPThe pipe organ has been called the “King of Instruments.” The sounds of the pipe organ have inspired worshippers for centuries. Great composers have written countless works for the instrument. Pipe organs have been installed in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and theaters. The American Guild of Organists is passionate about the pipe organ and we want to share our love with a new generation.

Join us on Sunday, April 17 at St. Nicholas Church in Wilkes-Barre from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. for Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza. Participants will receive a behind the scenes tour of the instrument in addition to a chance to play it themselves (and eat some pizza!). All are welcome to attend. Students currently studying the piano are encouraged to bring a piece to play on the organ

TO REGISTER FOR PEDALS, PIPES, AND PIZZA, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Lessons and Carols around the Pennsylvania Northeast

Lessons and Carols 2015 Poster on Letter Size Paper

The Choir of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre will present its annual Festival Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent, led by Canon Mark Laubach, Organist and Choirmaster, and guest conductor Dr. Rick Hoffenberg on Wednesday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m. The service, St. Stephen’s annual Advent and Christmas gift to the community and region, will feature traditional hymns and carols sung by all, as well as choral and organ selections for the season. A free-will offering will be accepted. Gifts of non-perishable food, clothing, and other necessities will be received for the Food Pantry and the Clothes Closet at St. Stephen’s. A festive reception will follow the service. The public is warmly welcome to attend.

Flyer 2015

The Shickshinny Area Community Choir and the Chancel Choir of First Reformed United Church of Christ, Berwick will sing a service of Lessons and Carols at First United Methodist Church, 6 E Butler St, Shickshinny, on Sunday, December 20 at 6:00 p.m. A Christmas organ prelude by chapter member Marilou Hinchcliff will precede the service at 5:30 p.m. and a reception will follow. Music for the service will be Joseph Martin’s cantata, “Appalachian Winter”.

Join us for Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza in Scranton!

pedalspipesandpizza

The pipe organ has been called the “King of Instruments.” The sounds of the pipe organ have inspired worshippers for centuries. Great composers have written countless works for the instrument. Pipe organs have been installed in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and theaters. The American Guild of Organists is passionate about the pipe organ and we want to share our love with a new generation.

Join us on Sunday, November 8 at St. Stanislaus Cathedral in Scranton from 2:00 – 4:00 PM for Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza. Participants will receive a behind the scenes tour of the instrument in addition to a chance to play it themselves (and eat some pizza!). All are welcome to attend. Students currently studying the piano are encouraged to bring a piece to play on the organ

TO REGISTER FOR PEDALS, PIPES, AND PIZZA, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Organ Crawl with the Binghamton Chapter

DSC02418On Thursday, August 8, members of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter, AGO have been invited to participate in a day-long organ tour of four prominent pipe organs in our area with the members of the Binghamton Chapter. An itinerary is included below. The Binghamton Chapter board has been kind enough to let us in on this event of theirs.

If you work during the week, this may be a good reason to take a personal day. You are welcome to visit one, several, or all of the churches as your schedule allows. Everyone will meet for lunch at La Trattoria Restaurant (near the University of Scranton) at 11:30 a.m. If you are interested in attending, please email Mike Sowa, dean, and let him know if you plan on going to the lunch so that an accurate count can be given to the event coordinators.

AGO Organ Crawl Itinerary for Thursday, August 8, 2013

9:00 to 9:45 a.m.

St. Stephen’s Pro Episcopal Cathedral – 35 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre, PA

The instrument at St. Stephen’s encompasses 4 manual – 89 ranks, 5,003 pipes and incorporates the work of Austin (1905), Aeolian-Skinner (1954), and later, Allan Van Zoeren.  Berghaus pipe organ builders recently rebuilt the organ.  Canon Mark Laubach, Director of Music at St. Stephen’s Cathedral will be demonstrating each of the instruments for us.  AGO members will have access to the chambers (as much as is practical), and console time to sit down and play.  Be sure to bring your music!

9:45 to 10:30 a.m. – Travel to Scranton

10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Hickory Street Presbyterian – 435 Hickory Street, Scranton, PA.  

The organ at Hickory Street Presbyterian was designed by Charles Courboin, an important organist in the early 1900’s who knew Dupre, Nadia Boulanger, and others.  It is a 3-manual, 51 rank Casavant, but built in the Romantic style.

Eugene Hopkins is the Director of Music at Hickory Street Presbyterian and also their longest tenured employee.  His work at Hickory Street Presbyterian began in 1967, soon after he graduated from Westminster Choir College.

11:30 to 1:00 p.m.

Lunch at La Trattoria Restaurant  – 522 Moosic St, Scranton, PA

1:15 to 2:00 p.m.

St. Peter’s Cathedral – 300 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton, PA.

The Cathedral Organ was built in 1979 as Opus 3141 by the Canadian firm Casavant Frères under the direction of Gerhard Brunzma.  This instrument is a tracker organ comprised of 3 manuals, 37 stops, 52 ranks and 2,588 pipes.  The organ is turned to the well-tempered system known as Werkmeister III and constructed to the tonal and mechanical principles of the great classic organs of Europe.

Daniel Marx is the Director of Music at St. Peter’s Cathedral.

2:15 to 3:00 p.m.

Elm Park Church712 Linden Street, Scranton, PA. 

Elm Park Church houses a beautiful Reuter organ.  Harold L. Hoover is the Director of Music at Elm Park Church.

Traveling directions from Binghamton to St. Stephen’s, Wilkes-Barre.

Take 81 South to Wilkes-Barre.

Take Exit 170B to Route 309 also known locally as the Cross Valley Expressway.

Stay in the right hand lane on 309 and get off at Exit 3 (South River Street).

Turn left on South River.

In approximately 1 mile, turn left on West Northampton Street.

In one block, turn left on South Franklin Street.  St. Stephen’s will be on your left.

There is a public parking garage across the street from the church.

Traveling directions from Elmira to St. Stephen’s, Wilkes-Barre.

Take 17 East to Exit 60 (Sayre).

Turn right onto Route 220 South all the way to Route 6 East in Towanda.

Stay on Route 6 all the way to Tunkhannock.

Be sure to stay on the “by-pass” route around Tunkhannock!

At the traffic light in Tunkhannock, turn right onto Route 29.

Stay on Route 29.  In approximately 10 miles, Route 29 splits into 29/309.

Keep going straight on Route 309!  This will take you to Dallas, PA.

In Dallas, keep in the left hand lane at the traffic light and stay on 309!

309 is known locally as the Cross Valley Expressway.

Watch for Exit 3 off 309 – (South River Street).

Turn right on South River.

In approximately 1 mile, turn left on West Northampton Street.

In one block, turn left on South Franklin Street.  St. Stephen’s will be on your left.

There is a public parking garage across the street from the church.

Renewing Congregational Song

A seminar on renewing congregational song led by Rev. John L. Bell of the Iona Community in Scotland will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit on May 19, 2012 from 10AM to 2PM. It will explore fresh ways to enliven church congregations through passionate singing.

John Bell lectures and leads seminars all over the world. He is an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland. He is a music writer and song leader, but his interests are much broader than that. His lectures span a range from Celtic traditions and putting Paul in context to global warming, consumerism and Facebook. He tends toward the off-beat, but with a strong respect for tradition. His forte is congregational song. He teaches techniques ranging from the simplistic to the professional, to allow song leaders of varying talents to bring out the best in as heterogeneous a group as a church congregation, even those who have always been told that they cannot carry a tune in a bucket.

This seminar is open to all who are interested in the role of church congregations in singing. It is appropriate for all denominations. The cost of the seminar is $10, which covers lunch. To register send an email to registrar@fpccs.org.

Chapter marks 9/11 anniversary with interfaith service

The Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists in cooperation with the Greater Pittston Ministerium sponsored an Interfaith Service and Musical Tribute marking the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The service took place at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston. Several chapter members performed during the service, which also featured scripture readings from the Talmud, Bible, and Qu’uran, contemporary reflections on September 11, reflective silence, and congregational hymns. A collection was taken for Tuesday’s Children, a charity which “provides support for the families of 9/11 and others impacted by global terrorism.”

Organ selections included an improvisation on Paul Manz’s “God of Grace,” Buxtehude’s “Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist,” a setting of the “Shalom Aleichem,” “Andante sostenuto” from Widor’s “Symphonie Gothique,” “Poem of Peace” by Langlais, “Be Still, My Soul,” by Sibelius, and an arrangement of “God of Our Fathers.” Members of the “Every Voice Choir” under the direction of Joanne Austin performed two anthems: “Peace Be With You” and “A Prayer for Our Time.” Special thanks to board member Mike Sowa for coordinating the service, Monsignor John Bendik, host pastor, and Joe Holden, host organist.

An open letter to those affected by recent flooding

Dear AGO Colleagues and Friends:

Northeastern Pennsylvania has had a long history of dealing with floods. Some of our long-time members remember the Hurricane Agnes flooding in 1972, not to mention flooding scares in years since, including 1996 and 2006. Perhaps some even remember the 1936 flood! Now ALL OF US have experienced the anxiety and heartbreak that has come with this most recent flooding episode. Thankfully, many of us have been spared damage to our homes, churches, schools, or businesses. But others of us have not been so fortunate. Our hearts go out to all those among us who have suffered losses from this disaster. I know all of us will want to come together as an AGO Chapter to support and assist those in need.

If you have experienced any loss, please let us know so that we might reach out and be of help in some way. Those of us who were here and lived through the horror of Agnes in 1972 will remember the incredible response from other AGO chapters across the country in sending money, music, and vestments to support our members and their churches in recovery from losses. Many will remember the “flood library” of choral music that was maintained for many years in the Choir Room at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. Multiple copies of choral octavos were available to AGO members’ church choirs who had lost most or all of their own collections of choral music. Indeed, there was assistance also from within the chapter; churches and musicians on higher ground were able to provide help to those individuals and parishes in the flood zone. In short, people pulled together to assist each other in a time of utter devastation.

Thankfully, it appears that, while the damage from this catastrophe is considerable and, in some cases, even worse than what was experienced in 1972, there are fewer people affected, thanks to the improved dike and levy system protecting Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, and Forty Fort. But our hearts must surely go out to those of our colleagues who have suffered loss.

Once again, if you have sustained loss at home or church, please let us know. Likewise, if you can offer help in some way, let us know of this as well. We are here for each other.

As we return to our work as music ministers, let us be mindful of the special roles we have to play in bringing comfort and hope to those in need. May we all recommit ourselves to our profession with renewed purpose, keeping in mind these powerful and appropriate words from the much loved hymn, “How firm a foundation …”

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.” [K. in John Rippon’s Selection, 1787]

God bless and keep you and yours!

Faithfully yours,

Kay Ten Eyck, Dean
Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter, American Guild of Organists