Thomas Murray to present Recital and Master Class in Wilkes-Barre

Thomas Murray AGO

We are pleased to announce that Professor Thomas Murray, Yale University Organist and one of our most distinguished American concert organists, will be presenting a Master Class for our chapter on Saturday, October 18th at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre! There will be coffee and pastries in the church’s auditorium at 9:30 a.m., then the class will proceed from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon in the nave.

The class is made possible through The Richard Dower Education Fund, established in memory of Dr. Richard Dower, a distinguished member of our chapter who taught for many years at College Misericordia (now Misericordia University) in Dallas. There will be no charge for the class, but contributions will surely be most welcome to help us defray our expenses.

Professor Murray will be presenting a recital at St. Stephen’s, sponsored by Music from St. Stephen’s, on the previous night – Friday, October 17 at 7:30 pm. Thomas Murray is known throughout the USA and abroad as one of the finest exponents of the art of playing orchestral transcriptions on the organ, and his program at St. Stephen’s will surely include thrilling examples of his artistry in this realm. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15, $12 for senior citizens (65+), students and WVIA members (with ID).

Dedicatory Organ Recital at St. Nicholas Church, Wilkes-Barre

On Sunday, October 5th at 4:00 p.m. we will officially welcome the 1921 Moeller Pipe Organ from St. Casimir’s Church, Pittston, to St. Nicholas Church, 226 South Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre. The recital will be presented by Canon Mark Laubach, Organist & Choirmaster of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Wilkes-Barre. Canon Laubach is an acclaimed recitalist throughout the United States, England, and Germany. This concert will show the many voices of our Moeller Organ through a variety of classical organ music and hymns beloved by the German, English, and Lithuanian congregations it represents.

The recital is free and open to the public. A Free Will Offering will be taken. Following the recital there will be a reception for all in attendance. Please mark this historic event in your calendars so as not to miss it!

Hope to see you at our Fall Gathering!

You are cordially invited to attend our Fall Gathering at Grace Episcopal Church, Kingston, on Friday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m. The evening will include Evensong followed by a catered dinner and the installation of officers. Tickets are $20.00. Please RSVP by Friday, September 5. Call Raphael Micca, dean, at 570-301-9253 or email

Fall Gathering 2014

Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza comes to St. Peter’s Cathedral!

2014 Pedals Pipes and Pizza poster

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 3 at St. Peter’s Cathedral, 315 Wyoming Ave., 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, eat some pizza, and play musical games. All are welcome to attend. Students currently studying the piano are encouraged to bring a piece to play on the organ.

Presenters for the event are Dr. Sarah Davies, Michael Sowa, and Raphael Micca.


Philadelphia Organ Quartet in concert


Polish the Gem


On Sunday, April 27 at 4:00 p.m., St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral will celebrate the Eleventh Anniversary of the dedication of the Berghaus pipe organ with a recital by renowned organist Canon Mark Laubach.

Since January 1985, Canon Laubach has served as Organist and Choirmaster of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre, where he administers an active liturgical and choral music program, concert series, and Music from St. Stephen’s, a radio broadcast heard weekly on WVIA 89.9 FM Public Radio. A graduate of Westminster Choir College and the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, and formerly a Fellow in Church Music at Washington National Cathedral, Canon Laubach has performed in many of the most prominent churches and concert halls in the USA, Great Britain, and Germany. He has recorded three critically acclaimed compact discs on the Pro Organo label … Teutonc Titanics, French Fest, and Mosaics in Sound.

To celebrate the anniversary of his 2003 dedicatory recital, Canon Laubach has chosen a program of music which will entertain those listening and will also exploit the vast colors and range of the magnificent Berghaus Organ. The recital will open with an organ transcription of William Walton’s Crown Imperial March, which was originally composed in 1937 for the coronation of King Edward VIII of Great Britain. As Edward VIII abdicated before he was crowned, Walton’s new, stirring march was instead used for the coronation of his brother, King George VI, the subject of the recent, highly acclaimed film, The King’s Speech, and father of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

After the Walton march, Canon Laubach will play Johann Sebastian Bach’s exciting Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543, followed by four hymn preludes by Bach, Paul Manz, Gerre Hancock, and the recently departed Norwegian composer Egil Hovland. Before the playing of each hymn prelude, all assembled will have the chance to stretch their legs and their vocal cords by singing verses of the hymns upon which the organ pieces are based. Since the primary job of the wonderful instrument is to accompany the singing of congregations and choirs, this will be a most appropriate and inspiring addition to the program.

Following a brief intermission, Canon Laubach will perform Charles-Marie Widor’s beloved Toccata from his Symphony No. 5 for Organ. Interestingly, he has chosen to play three of the previous four movements of this grand symphony, which are performed not nearly as frequently as the famous Toccata. This is to give all in attendance the unique opportunity to hear the Toccata in its proper context.

After the Widor symphony, the audience will have a chance to hear some of the more lush sounds of the Berghaus Organ, including the beautiful harp and chimes in Leo Sowerby’s Carillon.

To close the program, Canon Laubach has chosen a regal, joyous blockbuster that will summon up all the forces of the instrument … the grand Finale from Alexandre Guilmant’s Sonata No. 1 for Organ in D Minor.

Finally, for those who may want something more after the Guilmant, he will present a very special, entertaining encore, which will remain a secret until it is performed. Canon Laubach assures us the encore is sure to bring a smile to the faces of all music lovers present.

Admission is free; however, a free-will offering will be accepted to help maintain the health of the Berghaus Organ. Immediately after the recital, the audience is invited to attend a lovely reception hosted by St. Stephen’s Music and Parish Life Committees.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral is located at 35 South Franklin Street in the heart of downtown Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Free parking is available next to the church. For more information, go to its website.

Spring Members’ Recital in Wilkes-Barre

Our Spring Members’ Recital will be held on Saturday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, 134 South Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre. Mark Ignatovich will be the host organist for this event.

The church’s more than century-old organ, built by the Müller and Abel Organ Company, was refurbished by Patrick J. Murphy and Associates in 2013. The instrument has three manuals (Choir, Great, and Swell) and pedal with 46 ranks of pipes.

All chapter members are invited to participate!

If you are interested in performing, please contact Mike Sowa by Wednesday, April 23 with the titles and composers of the pieces you would like to perform. Classical organ compositions, hymn-based works, and improvisations are welcome.


Radio program in memory of our chaplain, Father Al Wagaman

This coming Sunday’s (February 16th’s) Music from St. Stephen’s on WVIA 89.9 FM will be a program Mark Laubach has recorded in memory of Father Al Wagaman. Father Wagaman, who served as our chaplain, passed away on December 13, 2013.

The program will air twice on Sunday, at 7:00 am and 4:00 pm. People who can’t get good reception of WVIA where they live have the option of listening to the program live online at WVIA’s website.

Third annual Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza a success!


On November 3, members of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter conducted their third annual “Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza” program at Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston. The Rev. Dr. Carol Fleming, pastor, and Carl D. Ruck, minister of music and AGO chapter member, hosted the event. The program opened with the presentation of Daniel Burton’s Rex: The King of Instruments with Raphael Micca, sub-dean, narrating and Mike Sowa, dean, playing the organ. Participants were given a chance to get an up-close look at the organ console and the pipe chambers and to observe a collection of pipes taken from an area organ which is no longer in existence. Several of the attendees of varying ages and levels of experience sat down to play the church’s pipe organ. At the end of the program, pizza and refreshments were served free of charge in the church’s fellowship hall, where chapter member Mark Pall demonstrated a hand-cranked busker organ he built from scratch and chapter sub-dean Raphael Micca led a series of games with the children who attended the program.

Blessing and Rededication of St. Mary’s pipe organ

The Blessing and Rededication of the pipe organ at St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, 134 South Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre will take place on Friday, November 1 (The Solemnity of All Saints) at 7:00 p.m. The program will include the performance of organ works by J.S. Bach, Francois Couperin, and Gaston Dethier along with hymn singing by all in attendance and by the parish choirs. All are invited to attend the rededication.


St. Mary’s pipe organ was built by Müller and Abel, New York City in 1902 (Opus 60). It was rebuilt in 1927 by the Möller organ company of Hagerstown, Maryland. This year’s rebuild was completed by Patrick Murphy of Stowe, Pennsylvania.

It’s time for more Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza!

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 3 at Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston 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.

Presenters for the event are Michael Sowa and Raphael Micca, local organists with backgrounds in music education and church music. Carl Ruck, Minister of Music at Church of Christ Uniting, is the host.


Join us for our Opening Celebration!

You are invited to our chapter’s Opening Celebration to be held Friday, September 20 at Saint Nicholas Church in Wilkes-Barre, beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The host for this event will be Mr. Edward Loch, who serves as organist and music director at Saint Nicholas Church.  Please extend the invitation to your family, friends, colleagues, and pastors.
Evening Prayer will be celebrated in the lower level chapel at 6:00 p.m.  We will then proceed to the church hall for dinner following the service. The dinner will once again be catered by Dente’s Catering.
Cost of the dinner buffet is $16.00, which includes salad bar, two entrees, sides, desserts, and hot and cold beverages.  Please direct your RSVP to Mike Sowa, dean, by Wednesday, September 4.  You may either call (570) 881-2301 or e-mail
Following the dinner, we will head upstairs for an opportunity to see, hear, and play M. P. Möller’s Opus 3156, originally installed in the former Saint Casimir’s Church in Pittston.  An invitation to this event has also been extended to members of Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Pittston, as a good number of its current parishioners were once members of Saint Casimir’s before it closed in April 2008.

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.

Celebrate America!

We are pleased to announce that First United Methodist Church, Shickshinny will be hosting our chapter’s members recital on Sunday, June 30 at 6:00 p.m. We hope you will join us for a wonderful evening of music celebrating America. Please be assured that it will be worth the trip to Shickshinny. It is a beautiful church and a very supportive community. We are most grateful to Marilou Hinchcliff and to the people of First United Methodist for their willingness to host us!
Members and friends of the chapter are encouraged to perform one or more pieces on the church’s pipe organ. The repertoire may be patriotic, music written by an American composer, music containing “American” themes, or simply something celebratory in nature. In addition to organ music, members of the Shickshinny Area Community Choir will lead the singing of the National Anthem and several American hymns. There will also be prayers for the nation, a choral performance, and the recognition of local veterans.
If you are available to perform that day, or if you can assist with the program in any way, please contact Raphael Micca, Co-Dean, or Marilou Hinchcliff, host organist, at as soon as possible. The church is located on the corner of US-11 and E. Butler Street, Shickshinny.

Chapter to sponsor Wedding Music Workshop


Have you ever met with a “Bridezilla” who wanted things exactly HER way, or no other way?

Were you ever unsure as to whether a certain piece of music was appropriate to be played at a church wedding?

Have you ever had trouble finding a soloist or an instrumentalist for a wedding?

Are you interested in hearing some stories your fellow chapter members have to share about weddings they have played?

Would you like to share a piece you use at weddings with your chapter members or listen to pieces your other colleagues find useful for weddings?

Please mark your calendar for our chapter’s next event, a Wedding Music Workshop led by chapter member David Tighe, on Monday, May 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Rosary Church, 127 Stephenson Street in Duryea.

We will begin with Evening Prayer at 6:30 p.m. in the church. The meeting will follow. We will discuss some of the issues a church organist may face when playing for a wedding, regardless of the church’s denomination. Additional details will follow as the event approaches.

Whether you’ve played many weddings or only a few, or are dreading the thought of being called for your first wedding as a church organist, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Refreshments will be served after the meeting/discussion. Our evening should conclude no later than 8:30 p.m.

If you plan on attending, please call Mike Sowa, Co-Dean, at (570) 881-2301 or email


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.