Digital Exclusive: First Lenten Organ Recital of 2020

Digital Exclusive

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — If you walked past St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral Wednesday morning, you may have heard the beautiful organ music lifting spirits. The first of 8 Lenten organ recitals was held in the century old church. Mark Laubach is choir master for the church – helping to make a joyful noise for 34 years.

“We have records that show that this series has been going on since the 1920s. So I guess it’s about 100 years old now,” Laubach said.

Father Timothy Alleman, priest in charge at St. Stephen’s, says the concert, and the Lenten service that follows, is a strong tradition in the community.

“How difficult is it to find a parking spot downtown at this hour of the day. And yet we had 50 people here,” Alleman said, “It’s meaningful enough to people that they will make sacrifices like ‘oh my goodness where am I going to park to get to this.’

The concert on Wednesday featured Jane Bourdow. She tells me she drove 4 1/2 hours from Alexandria, Virginia on Monday, to perform.

“Mark Laubach and I have been very dear friends for many years and so I’ve done this Lenten recital up here numerous times… I’ve lost count,” she said.

She says music is an integral part of religion.

“Some of us musicians think it’s the most important part and then we have to kick ourselves and say no there’s more to it than that,” she said.

Laubach quotes St. Augstine saying ‘they who sing pray twice.’

“We have a special belief that singing brings us closer to the divine. And that really is for most all religions,” Laubach said.

He says the organ is the perfect instrument for concerts and services.

“The organ is a great instrument for performing for a large group of people because it sustains and it can be very commanding so it’s easy for people to sing with,” Laubach said.

“This is arguably one of the best organs that you will ever find, certainly in this valley. And even in the region, even in this eastern part of the state. This is an incredible instrument,” Alleman said.

The Lenten recital will be held at 11:30am every Wednesday until April 8th. Each week there will be a different organist performing.

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