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.

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Job Opportunity: Faith Lutheran Church, Blakeslee

Faith Lutheran Church of Blakeslee, PA is looking for an organist and choir director to serve two services (liturgy and hymns) each Sunday and special services. Send letters of interest to Mr. Phil Newlander, President at faithlut@epix.net or mail to P. O. Box 228, Blakeslee, PA. Phone inquiries can be made to 570-646-0309. Salary is negotiable dependent on experience.

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.

Repairs to begin April 16 on St. Stephen’s Berghaus Pipe Organ

On Monday, April 16 workers from the Berghaus Organ Company in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood, Illinois will begin to remove nearly 4,000 organ pipes and numerous other components of the Berghaus pipe organ at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in downtown Wilkes-Barre so that repairs can be made, not only to the organ, but also to the large chamber that houses most of the instrument and to the roof system above that portion of the building.  Roof leaks into the organ chamber have caused considerable damage that must be repaired in order to prevent further damage.  This work will proceed over the next four to five months.  Once the organ pipes and other components are removed or safely covered, the main organ chamber’s ceiling and walls and the roof above the chamber will be repaired and rebuilt.

St. Stephen’s Berghaus pipe organ, cited by many nationally and internationally acclaimed organists as among the finest in the mid-Atlantic region, is expected to return in late August for re-installation and re-voicing by experts from Berghaus throughout the month of September, assisted and guided by Canon Mark Laubach, Organist and Choirmaster.  It is expected that all work will be completed by early October, at which time plans for re-dedicatory and celebratory liturgies and recitals will be considered and announced.

Initial signs of water incursion into the organ chamber were discovered in November 2016.  Repairs to the roof and the organ were made soon thereafter, and by early 2017 the situation was thought to be under control.  But further evidence of water incursion was discovered in December 2017.  A thorough investigation of the main organ chamber and the instrument itself in late January 2018 revealed more pervasive damage and the risk of even greater destruction to the organ and building structure.  Comprehensive proposals by the Berghaus Organ Company and other contractors have been considered and approved by the Vestry of St. Stephen’s, clearing the way for work to begin on April 16.  Most of the cost of repairs will be covered by our insurance provider, but the Church will also be responsible for a portion of the work to be done.

Special organ music will be performed by Canon Laubach at the 10:30 am Eucharist on Sunday, April 15, the day before the organ removal commences.  Later that same afternoon at 4 pm, Mark will perform an hour-long recital open to the community at large.  There will be no charge for admission, but a free-will offering will be received toward the “Polish the Gem” Fund, which will be used toward the Church’s portion of expenses for repairs.  Checks should be made payable to St. Stephen’s Churchwith “Polish the Gem” listed in the memo line.

Plans are being considered for rental of a digital organ as a temporary replacement for the pipe organ through much of the period when repairs are in progress.  Pipes and other components of the organ that are not damaged and do not need to be taken to Chicago will be kept here at the church in a secure and climate-controlled storage space.

St. Stephen’s will continue its regular schedule of liturgical and musical events, including a Jazz Eucharist (April 21), Choral Eucharist and Evensong sung by a visiting church choir (April 22), a concert by the Wilkes University Choirs (April 29), Choral Evensong by the St. Stephen’s Choir and a concert by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Chamber Music Society (both on May 6), a Farewell Eucharist for Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Bethlehem (May 12), and the annual King’s College Summer Choir Training Course, sponsored by the Royal School of Church Music in America (July 22-29).

If you would like more information about the work to be done on the organ, email Canon Mark Laubach at mlaubach@ststephenswb.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!

Upcoming Lenten recitals around our region

Since the 1920s, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, has offered free recitals prior to the noon Community Lenten Service every Wednesday during Lent. A simple soup and sandwich lunch is available immediately following the services in the auditorium for $4.00. The series began on Ash Wednesday and continues through Holy Week. It is sponsored by the Downtown Ministerium of Wilkes-Barre. For more information and a complete list of performers and preachers, please visit St. Stephen’s parish website.
St. Stephen’s will also have the honor of hosting the Treble Choristers of the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys in a concert on Tuesday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. Many consider the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys to be the leading ensemble in the Anglican choral tradition in the United States, so it is a rare treat for them to visit our region! The choristers will be directed by Daniel Hyde, Organist and Master of the Choristers, and will be accompanied by Benjamin Sheen, Assistant Organist. The concert is free; a free-will offering will be taken.
Lastly, First Presbyterian Church, 3231 Tilghman Street, Allentown will be hosting a series of Lenten recitals on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m. This coming Sunday will feature our own chapter member and Past Dean Canon Mark Laubach and on Sunday, March 25, First Presbyterian will welcome Nathan Laube, Assistant Professor of Organ, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY. Here is the complete list of recitalists:
Feb 18. Mark Laubach, Organist/Choirmaster, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA. Past Dean, Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter AGO
Feb 25. Stephen Williams, Organist/Director of Music, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, PA. Past Dean, Lehigh Valley Chapter AGO
Mar 4. Gavin Black, harpsichord, Director, Princeton Early Keyboard Center, Princeton, NJ.
Mar 11. Adam Bergstresser, Organist/Director of Music, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Doylestown, PA.
Mar 18. Thomas Dressler, Organist/Choral Director, First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, PA. Dean, Lehigh Valley Chapter AGO
Mar 25. Nathan Laube, Assistant Professor of Organ, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY
Please spread the word about these wonderful recitals! Have a blessed Lent!