Southwest New Jersey

Last updated: October 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Message from the Dean 

October, 2015

I would like to thank everyone who came out to the September program. We had the chance to sing thru some choral anthems from Augsburg Fortress including one by our own Evelyn Larter! After lunch we were able to honor a longtime member Helen Taylor. Special thanks to Marilyn Rabbai for putting together a wonderful slide presentation with pictures and commentary on Helen’s (and her late husband Bob’s) contributions to enrich the musical culture of South Jersey. Several of Helen’s children and grandchildren were able to be in attendance for this special event. One of Helen’s former students, Amanda Taylor Lawless, spoke about how Helen had influenced her musical journey and then played a special piece on the flute, with Marilyn accompanying on piano. To round out the program, we heard from Kevin O’Malia on some of the history of Jewish liturgical music. Kevin also brought some fascinating resources which included Jewish text, which he reminded us was read “right to left,” NOT “backwards.” Thank you to Cathy O’Neill for hosting and coordinating the food.

As we start the fall season I am reminded of the “special” circumstances that often arise when working with mostly volunteers. For my first choir rehearsal, I had less than half of my choir members in attendance (the rest of them DID let me know ahead of time that they would be absent). For this weeks rehearsal I had almost all of them in attendance. I had to approach each rehearsal differently because of who was in attendance, but was equally refreshed both evenings by their eagerness to learn and the smiles that light up their faces when they know they’ve done something right. In our jobs (as in most, I guess) it can be easy to get caught up in everything that doesn’t go the way you expect, or is not done exactly the way you would do it. I would encourage you to look for the little things that remind you why you love what you do. For me it’s those smiles on my choir members faces or the rolling-on-the-floor laughter of my younger piano students when I let them hop on the organ bench and they find out what a 32′ Contra Bombarde sounds like for the first time. If you look for them, there are usually far more little events like this that far outweigh one or two big things that you can often learn to deal with over time. Happy Fall!

Rob Hobgood – Dean

Sunday, October 25 at 6:30 we will participate in a Hymn Festival for Reformation at Covenant Presbyterian, Cherry Hill, hosted by Rob Hobgood and featuring massed choirs and instruments.
Sunday, November 15 at 7 pm will be our annual Organ Recital at Haddonfield Methodist Church, Wayne Richmond host – The featured recitalist is Daryl Robinson of Westminster Choir College.
Saturday, January 16 is the annual Jump Start conference at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.
Sunday, January 24 at 4 is the Annual Guild Service at First United Methodist, Glassboro, planned and hosted by Bill Mitchell and featuring hymns, anthems and special musical guests.
Our clergy dinner will follow at a local restaurant.
Sunday, February 21 at 3:30 will be a program of Organ and Instruments at Martin Luther Chapel in Pennsauken, Lia Gerkin hosting. Salem County Brass will perform, and members are invited to participate as well – contact Larry DePasquale.
Saturday, March 12 at 10 we will host editor and publisher Wayne Leupold as he presents and discusses his latest project, the New Bach Editions. Watch for more details.
Sunday, April 17 at 4 is our annual Members’ Recital at First Presbyterian Church, Bridgeton, Gae Finch hosting.
Sunday, May 15 at 7 Glenn Rodgers will host at First United Methodist, Moorestown, a return of Jeannine and David Jordan with a new presentation “From Sea to Shining Sea,” a narrated musical and historical recreation of 200 years of the organ in America.

Watch this space! We will update announcements throughout our 2015-2016 season.

CHAPTER SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE We have Chapter Scholarships available for persons interested in learning to play the organ. The Scholarship provides 14 free lessons for any pianist who is at an Intermediate level of pianistic ability. Members who teach piano may have a student who would be interested. For information contact Chair of Scholarship Committee Vernon Williams (856-235-0811;


Local Events

Young Musicians from The Curtis Institute to Perform at Deerfield Presbyterian Church:
The first recital in the new series at Deerfield Presbyterian will be on Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at 4:00pm, and will feature three brilliant young artists, all making their first appearance in this area. Daniel Hsu, piano, will share the program with Will Chow, cello, accompanied by Daniel’s older brother, Andrew Hsu.
Daniel Hsu was accepted to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music at age 10 studying with the world-renowned pianist Gary Graffman and legendary piano pedagogue Eleanor Sokoloff. Now, at age 18, he is pursuing the Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at Curtis.
Cellist Will Chow studies with Carter Brey at The Curtis Institute of Music. Will has appeared on NPR’s From the Top and has performed as a soloist with the Nova Vista Symphony and the Peninsula Youth Orchestra.
Equal parts composer and pianist, the piano-playing of twenty-one-year-old Andrew Hsu has been hailed as “incendiary” (New York Times), and “a great storyteller, who listens attentively to what he says and plays with deep conviction…in turns limpid and virtuosic”(Kalamazoo Gazette). An emerging young artist, Andrew has performed with numerous orchestras across the United States, and his music has been interpreted and performed by some of the leading musicians of our time. His music has received numerous honors over the years, including several ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, a BMI William Schuman Prize, and winning prizes at the Chicago’s Generation Next Young Composers’ Competition.
The program will include works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Messiaen and Brahms. This is the fourteenth season of the popular recitals at Deerfield Presbyterian Church, where prestigious artists perform for an appreciative audience from Salem and Cumberland Counties and beyond. There is no admission charge; a freewill offering will be received. The recital will be followed by a “Meet the Artists” reception. For more information or directions call (856) 455 1222, or visit

Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 4PM: Saint Mary’s Parish in Burlington will present a concert Music for Viols and Voyces. The performers will be the aMuse Consort of Viols (Donna Fournier, Rebecca Humphrey, Heather Miller Lardin, Leslie Nero) and The Choir of Saint Mary’s. Lee Milhous will conduct. The program will feature English music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods including Henry Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord and Orlando Gibbons’ The Record of John. Several madrigals will also be performed. The viol consort will perform additional music of William Byrd, Anthony Holborne, and others. The Philadelphia-based consort of viols, aMuse, draws inspiration and energy in creating and recreating music together. Its name simultaneously invokes the Greek Muses as knowledge and the arts personified, and the joy and pastime realized when we engage with them. aMuse was founded in 2012. The chiming of Saint Mary’s 150 year old peal of Whitechapel bells will precede the concert at 3:45 p.m. A free-will offering to benefit Music at Saint Mary’s will be received. Saint Mary’s Church is located at 145 West Broad Street in historic Burlington. For directions, further information, or to be placed on the Saint Mary’s Music Series mailing list please contact the Parish Office at (609) 386-0902,

Sunday, December 6th, 2015 7:00 pm at Deerfield Presbyterian Church, Deerfield Street, NJ: Annual Christmas Recital with Gary Seydell, tenor, and Lydia Calhoun, clarinet, accompanied by Evelyn R. Larter, piano. The program will feature selections from a newly released CD, Carols for the King from Around the World. There is no admission charge; a freewill offering will be received. The recital will be followed by a “Meet the Artists” reception. For more information or directions call (856) 455 1222, or visit

Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm: Candlelight Procession and Advent Lessons and Carols
The Choir of Saint Mary’s Church (Lee F. Milhous, Organist and Choirmaster) will sing Ord’s Adam Lay Ybounden, Poston’s Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, Oxley’s Linden Tree Carol, Adelmann’s Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, and Palestrina’s Matin and Vesper Responsory. The congregation will join in the singing of traditional Advent hymnody. Saint Mary’s peal of English Whitechapel tower bells will be rung beginning at 3:45 pm. Reception Follows in the Guild House. Free-will offering. Handicapped Accessible. For information, contact Lee Milhous at 215-348-8872,, or visit

Sunday, February 21st, 2016 4:00 pm at Deerfield Presbyterian Church, Deerfield Street, NJ: Benjamin Shute, baroque violin, performing with duo partner, Anastasia, on the harpsichord, in a program of music from the era in which the historic sanctuary of Deerfield Presbyterian was built. There is no admission charge; a freewill offering will be received. The recital will be followed by a “Meet the Artists” reception. For more information or directions call (856) 455 1222, or visit

Sunday, May 1st, 2016 4:00 pm at Deerfield Presbyterian Church, Deerfield Street, NJ: Trevor Babb, classical guitar, and SWJAGO chapter member, James Roman, organ, sharing the stage for the final program in the series. There is no admission charge; a freewill offering will be received. The recital will be followed by a “Meet the Artists” reception. For more information or directions call (856) 455 1222, or visit

CHAPTER EMERGENCY FUND Our Chapter has begun the sponsorship of a fund to provide short-term emergency aid to Chapter members who find themselves temporarily in need of assistance. No dues money will be used for this aid, but tax-deductible contributions will be welcome at any time, and the free-will offering from this year’s Members’ Recital has been dedicated to this fund. A committee of three, consisting of the Dean, the Chair of Professional Concerns, and another member of that committee, will award aid as the need arises. Any Chapter member may recommend a member in good standing who, for reasons such as illness or unemployment, deserves our help, by contacting the Dean or the Chair of Professional Concerns. All cases of course will be confidential. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send your tax-deductible donation (made out to SWJersey Chapter AGO) to our Treasurer Gail Gassaway, marked for “Musicians’ Emergency Fund.”

CHAPTER PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE– Our Professional Concerns Committee has published the first edition of the brochure SO YOU’RE THINKING OF HIRING A CHURCH MUSICIAN… Topics included are, Where to begin your search, the AGO Code of Ethics as applicable to hiring procedures, Formula for Determining Workload, as well as a Worksheet for Determining Workload, Job Description Form, Guidelines for the Interview and Audition, sample Working Agreements, and a copy of our latest edition of Guidelines for the Compensation of Church Musicians. These brochures will be sent by our Placement Director to all institutions listing positions in our publications and website; you may also request a copy from the Professional Concerns Committee Chairperson. Also available from the Professional Concerns Committee – “Guidelines for Compensation” (see below); Sample “Working Agreement for Church Musicians;” and “Copyright Law Simplified” (revised Sept. 2005).


Based on a response of 32% of the membership, the following recommendations represent reasonable expectations for compensation in our geographical area. (Topics of further interest, such as other forms of compensation, budgets, benefits, etc. will be posted in the coming weeks.) A printed version of the Guidelines is also available – please request your copy from The Professional Concerns Committee (see Contact Us below). The guidelines below are based on ONE SERVICE 52 weeks per year. For each additional Sunday service ADD 30% to the salary base. For weekday or Saturday services, and services of a different format, add $150 or more per service.

  • Organist only, no choir: (6 to 8 hours per week) With Private study – $7,200-7,800 With a Service Playing Certificate – $7,920-8,580 With Bachelor in Music or CAGO – $8,360-9,625 With Master in Music or AAGO, ChM – $9,350-11,140 With Doctorate in Music or FAGO – $10,230-12,650
  • Organist OR Director, 1 choir: (7 to 15 hours per week) With private study – $8,750-11,100 With SPC – $9,625-11,210 Bachelor in Music or CAGO – $10,395-12,760 Master in Music or AAGO, ChM – $12,210-14,410 Doctorate in Music or FAGO – $15,950-19,060
  • Organist OR Director, 2 choirs; OR Organist/Director, 1 choir: (14 to 22 hours per week) With private study – $10,400-14,500 With SPC – $11,440-15,950 Bachelor in Music or CAGO – $12,210-20,020 Master in Music or AAGO, ChM – $13,200-21,560 Doctorate in Music or FAGO – $16,940-24,225
  • Organist OR Director, 3 choirs; OR Organist/Director, 2 choirs: (18 to 28 hours per week) $21,010-48,950 depending on nature of position and qualifications of musician.
  • Organist OR Director, 4 or more choirs; OR Organist/Director, 3 or more choirs: ( 40+ hours per week) $37,180-89,100; positions of this nature are full time and demand salary plus benefits, depending on the scope of the position and qualifications of the musician.

Pay for Substitutes: For a basic service consisting of one Sunday service and no choir rehearsal, the recommended fee is $150 per week. Additional contiguous services should command an additional $100 per service. Additional weekday or Saturday services should command an additional $150 per week. Non-contiguous rehearsals should command $75 per rehearsal. Long-term substitutes should be paid in accordance with the Guidelines above. When travel is a consideration, paying mileage is appropriate.

Pay for Weddings: The resident organist shall play for all weddings, memorial services and funerals in the employing institution. If the resident is unavailable, a substitute may be employed. If the resident organist is available but an outside organist is requested by the family, the church organist is entitled to the regular fee. Wedding service fee – $150 to $250, not including any rehearsals. Each rehearsal (whether with wedding party, soloist or instrumentalist) – $75 additional. A deposit of $50 paid in advance to reserve the wedding date is recommended. Funeral and memorial service fee: $150, or higher if local custom dictates.


Salary and Training by David Rhody, Member of the Professional Concerns Committee The survey elicited 35 responses, or 32% of our membership. The SWJAGO membership continues to include highly educated musicians with 71% possessing degrees in music. These degrees include SPC, CAGO, AAGO, ChM, FAGO, B.A., B.Mus., and M.Mus. According to the 2011-12 Membership Directory, professional certification numbers are the following: SPC-11, CAGO-5 (including 4 who list both CAGO and SPC), AAGO-3, FAGO-1. The 2012 survey shows a wide disparity of salaries, which range from zero to $83,000 per year. Approximately 10% choose to volunteer as organists and receive no compensation for their service. The trend appears to be that salaries are very gradually rising, although they are much below the compensation levels of other professions. Positions with the highest salaries are held by members with degrees in music. The results are as follows (gaps in the figures occur where no one reported a salary: Category…Salary…..Percent of answers A. 6-8 hours per week… $3,900-7,000……..17% B. 7-15 hours per week.. $10,555-30,000……11% C. 14-22 hours per week..$19,480-28,000……26% D. 18-28 hours per week..$21,000-40,641……14% E. 40+ hours per week….$26,520-83,000……14%

Benefits by David Rhody, Chair of Professional Concerns Committee Based on responses to our survey, four-fifths of our members (80%) now receive one or more fringe benefits in addition to salary as part of their compensation, the most common being paid vacation (80% of respondents)ranging from 2 to 6 1/2 weeks, the most common being 4 weeks; and compensation for continuing education (26%). Another 11% have professional dues paid by their employer, and almost a quarter also receive paid major medical insurance, dental plan and pension (23%). Most of those respondents with benefits are in salary categories B, C or D as listed above. Members should remember when negotiating with their employers that benefits are often an attractive alternative to a pay increase in the eyes of the employing institutions, since they may involve tax consequences favorable to the employer. Our Professional Concerns Committee offers a sample “Agreement between Musicians and Religious Institutions” which you are welcome to request from David Rhody, Chair (856-795-6735;

Weddings and Funerals; Demographics by Joyce Ann Routon, Member of Professional Concerns Committee

Wedding Fees- These fees have remained about the same as on our last survey four years ago, varying from $110 to $250, with the majority still receiving $150-200. $250 – 3 people $200 – 9 $175 – 3 $150 – 12 $100 – 21

Funeral Fees- These fees also remain about the same. Fifteen people receive $150 or more, while two donate their services. $200 – 1 person $175 – 1 $150 – 13 $125 – 5 $100 – 6 Services donated – 2

Rehearsals- Most of you who are paid for extra rehearsals still receive $50. $100 – 1 person $50 – 5 $40 – 1 $25 – 2

Substitute Fees- The lowest fees reported are at least $35 higher than four years ago, but the fees still vary widely, with most asking $150. $300 – 1 person $200 – 2 $175 – 2 $150 – 8 $130 – 1 $125 – 4 $100 – 4 $80 – 1

Extra Services- Only three reported being paid for extra services, the rest reporting that extra services are considered included in their annual salaries. $200 – 1 person $133 – 1 $50 – 1

Pay Increases- The majority either receive pay increases annually or not at any time recently.
Annually – 12 people
Every 2 years – 3
Every 5 years – 1
Varies with the Economy – 2
Not recently – 9

Job Description Changes- Most have remained the same; but of the ones who have changed, their duties have been expanded. One church has reduced the number of services from 2 to 1. Another person still plays the same number of services, but at two different churches that have merged.

Duties Expanded – 6
Duties Reduced – 1
Signed Contract or Working Agreement- The great majority have no contract or working agreement.
Contract – 8
Job Description – 7
Verbal Agreement – 1

Denominations- The survey showed six denominations responding, with the majority being Presbyterian or Episcopalian.
Presbyterian – 9
Episcopal – 8
Lutheran – 5
Catholic – 4
Methodist – 4
Baptist – 1

Size and Attendance of Churches- There is a huge variation in the sizes of the churches where you are employed. The churches range from 70 members to 3500, while the attendance shows 25 to 600. The average percentage of attendance ranges from about 13% to 95%, with most falling in the 30% to 50% range.

Type of Community Served- Most of you work in a suburban community.
Urban – 4 people
Suburban – 21
Semi-Rural – 1
Rural – 3

When asked about employment issues that could be addressed at a Chapter meeting which would benefit you, only two replied. One requested seasonal anthem-reading sessions. The other was a plea for a way to explain to clergy, lay people and non-musicians how much work is involved in preparation for services and rehearsals.



JOIN OUR CHAPTER TODAY — Regular Membership categories: Regular Voting Member – $92 Over 65, Under 21, Disabled – $67 Full-time Student – $37 Partner Voting Member (second member at same address) – $67 Dual Voting Member (Regular member of another chapter) – $36 Student Dual Member – $15 Chapter Friend (non-voting) – $36 Please contact our Registrar for further information (see Contact Us below)



POSITIONS AVAILABLE Reminder – although a position no longer appears, that does not necessarily mean it has been filled. You may reach Placement Director Peter Homon at 856-665-0149.

SUBSTITUTE LIST This list is published as a courtesy to chapter members. The AGO assumes no responsibility for the musicianship or reliability of substitutes. Substitutes who have passed AGO certification exams are so noted. If there is an error in your listing, please notify us so we can correct it. You may reach the Chapter Hotline at 856-665-0149.

Note–This is the official Substitute List of SouthWest Jersey Chapter, American Guild of Organists. It is administered by Peter Homon.

These musicians are available on Sundays and also for weddings and funerals other days:

Miriam Bisbing 856-627-9434 (Sicklerville) April through November only
John Dow 856-327-1739 (Millville)
Mary Johnson 856-332-8869 (Pine Hill)
Carol McDaniel 856-428-0911 (Haddonfield) substitute organist and director
Nancy McLoud 856-667-6127 (Maple Shade)
George Mitchell 856-795-0970 (Cherry Hill)
Irina Nenartovich, CAGO, SPC 856-321-3465 (Cherry Hill)
CathyO’Neill 856-589-0192 (Sewell and vicinity)
Joanne Owen 856-769-3212 (Woodstown)
Kathleen White 609-267-3349 (Hainesport)

These substitutes are available for weddings and funerals or Saturday work only:

Evelyn Larter, CAGO 856-358-1112 (Elmer)
Lee F. Milhous 215-348-8872 (Burlington)

Employers and job seekers are invited to post and search listings of available positions on the Guild’s National Website.



Would you like to prepare for or take one of the exams for AGO certification? Contact Ruth Fink, education coordinator: (856)829-6604.

These members currently hold AGO certification, as listed in our Membership Directory:

Rae Ann Anderson, CAGO
Miriam Bisbing, SPC
Alice Brown, SPC
Helen C. Carrell, CAGO, SPC
Mark A. Cole, SPC
Charlene Cranmer, CAGO, SPC
Lawrence DePasquale, CAGO
Ruth O. Fink, AAGO, ChM
Ethel H. Geist, CAGO
Evelyn Larter, CAGO, SPC
Sister Emily McMullen, SPC
Irina Nenartovich, CAGO, SPC
Marilyn Rabbai, CAGO, SPC
David L. Rhody, SPC
Glenn L. Rodgers, AAGO
Joyce Ann Routon, CAGO, SPC
Helen K. Taylor, AAGO


Contact Us

DEAN: Rob Hobgood, 919-349-7458
TREASURER and REGISTRAR: Gail A. Gassaway 856-848-6787
SECRETARY: Catherine O’Neill, 856-589-0192,
PLACEMENT COORDINATOR: Peter Homon (856)665-0149
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Marilyn Rabbai, CAGO 856-589-3901
WEBMASTER: Marilyn Rabbai, CAGO (856)
NOMINATIONS: Evelyn R. Larter, Chairperson
CARES & CONCERNS: Catherine O’Neill, 856-589-0192,
PROFESSIONAL CONCERNS: David Rhody, Chairperson
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Class of 2016 – Robert E. Gladden Jr, Sr. Emily McMullen, William Mitchell, Stephen F. Obarski; Class of 2017 – Helen Carrell CAGO, Larry DePasquale CAGO, Joseph Krupa and Marilyn Rabbai CAGO; Class of 2018 – Peter J. Homon, Jr., Hugh Kronrot, Victoria A. Nichols, James J. Roman,III



Some of the world’s largest and most interesting organs are located in our area – here are a few of them:

Information concerning the Midmer-Losh organ in Atlantic City Convention Hall, including the newly published booklet “The Story of the World’s Largest Pipe Organ,” can be found at
For information on the large Hope-Jones Organ in the Ocean Grove Auditorium,
For the Wanamaker Organ at the Lord and Taylor Store in Philadelphia, see
The US Naval Academy Chapel, where our member Erik Meyer has been Assistant Organist, can be found at
And the Princeton University Chapel Mander Organ is featured at
Publications of the ORGAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY are available at
Compositions by ROBERT FARRELL for organ or choir are available free from the composer at

Links to other musical institutions in the area:

Westminster Choir College
The Philadelphia
The Curtis
The Bach Choir of
The Estey Pipe Organ (A Virtual Museum) is a new website devoted to the organs manufactured by the Estey Company in Brattleboro, VT, and may be found In addition to a listing of all opus numbers, the site includes hundreds of photographs of organs and the people connected with them. An on-going project, the site is always looking for additional materials about Estey pipe organs, especially those instruments which are still in existence. The site’s owner, Philip Stimmel, may be contacted by email at or by phone at 802-254-8470.

AGO National website