|After teaching himself how to play the piano “by ear” at age three, Mark Laubach began piano study at age six with Earl Bryan Seip of Palmerton, PA, and organ study at age twelve with J. Clinton Miller of Allentown, PA. In 1982, he received a bachelor’s degree in Church Music, magna cum laude, from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, studying organ with George Markey and Donald McDonald and harpsichord with Mark Brombaugh. In 1984, he received a master’s degree in Organ Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, where he studied organ with David Craighead and harpsichord with Arthur Haas. He has also performed in master classes and coached with Robert Carwithen, Wilma Jensen, Joan Lippincott, Thomas Murray, Arthur Poister, Eugene Roan, Russell Saunders, Fred Swann, and Harald Vogel. In 1984, Laubach was the recipient of a one-year appointment as Fellow in Church Music at Washington National Cathedral, serving as an apprentice to Richard Wayne Dirksen and Douglas Major.
Since winning first prize in the 1984 American Guild of Organists (AGO) National Young Artists’ Competition in Organ Performance, Mark Laubach has been known and respected throughout the USA and abroad as a gifted recitalist with unique skills in programming, registration, technical virtuosity, and expressive nuance. He has performed in notable concert venues in the USA (including the Kennedy Center and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.; St. Thomas’ Church, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Riverside Church, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; the Cadet Chapel at West Point Military Academy; the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California; Trinity Church in Boston; Grace Cathedral in San Francisco; St. John’s Cathedral in Denver; St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta; the Auditorium at Ocean Grove NJ; the Methuen Memorial Music Hall; and other churches, chapels, and concert halls in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Hartford, Houston, Jackson, Kansas City, Lincoln, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Richmond, and San Antonio) and in Great Britain (including the cathedrals of Bristol, Chichester, Gloucester, Lincoln, Norwich, Wells, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge). In June 2007 Mark performed in various venues in Germany (including the Stadtkirche in the town of Laubach) while on tour with choirs from Marywood University and Wyoming Seminary.
Mark Laubach has played and lectured at national and regional gatherings of the American Guild of Organists in Charleston WV, Harrisburg, Louisville, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond, and San Francisco. He has also performed for regional and national gatherings of the Association of Anglican Musicians (AAM) in Indianapolis, Lancaster PA, Washington, D.C., Wilmington DE, and at the 2012 National Conference in Philadelphia, where he received a standing ovation and resounding bravos for his featured recital on the famed Skinner organ at the Chapel of Girard College. In a review of this recital, Kyle Babin writes, “Mark Laubach played a virtuoso recital. From start to finish, the nicely varied program was thoughtfully registered and impeccably performed. Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture came to life, as if an orchestra were in the room. Laubach played William Bolcom’s Gospel Prelude on What a Friend We Have in Jesus with rhythmic verve, and we heard yet more dulcet tones from the pipes in Gerre Hancock’s Improvisation on St. Clement, transcribed by Peter Stoltzfus Berton. Finally, it was quite an experience to hear Julius Reubke’s epic Sonata on the Ninety-fourth Psalm on the Girard College Chapel organ. I will never forget the chorus of reed stops sounding the heraldic fanfares well known in the piece, and Mark Laubach’s fiery playing and brilliant interpretation.”
Mark Laubach has recorded three commercially distributed compact discs on the Pro Organo label. His first, Teutonic Titanics, recorded in 1994 on the Reuter organ at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Allentown PA, features works by Wagner, Reubke, and Liszt. A critique by Paul Hale in Organists’ Review magazine (UK) evaluates his playing as “beyond reproach...his depth of feeling and passionate (yet controlled) declamation is completely satisfying”. William Maddox, in Organ Alternatives (Canada), writes, “...Only a performer of great musicality, insight and conviction (coupled with a fair degree of daring) can not only bring off a performance such as this, but also still do justice to the composer’s intentions.” Laubach’s second Pro Organo disc, French Fest, was recorded in 1997 on the Berghaus organ at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois, featuring works of Tournemire, Franck, Dupré, Duruflé, Alain, and Vierne. In a review in the January 1998 edition of The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, G. Donald Kaye wrote that Laubach’s recording of Dupré’s Variations sur un Noël, Op. 20 “has to stand with the best - breathtaking! ... Throughout this disc we are confronted with playing which ‘dares’ comparison for its sheer brilliance and understanding of the muse.” In another review of French Fest appearing in the April 1998 Diapason magazine, critic Bernard Durman writes, “This new CD should serve as a reference of high standards for measuring all recordings of this repertoire, and should also serve as a fine introduction to the romantic and early 20th-century French school. Highly recommended.” Laubach’s third disc, Mosaics in Sound, featuring the Berghaus organ at St. Stephen’s in Wilkes-Barre, was recorded in December 2006, includes works by John Cook, Horatio Parker, Leo Sowerby, Edward Elger, Herbert Howells, Derek Bourgeois, Marcel Dupré, Joseph Bonnet, and Olivier Messiaen. In the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, Victor Hill writes of this recording, “Indeed, [Laubach’s] playing throughout is of the highest order with respect to technique, rhythm, sense of sound, and interpretive understanding.… This is an absolutely first-rate recording.”
Since January 1986, Mark Laubach has served as Organist and Choirmaster of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre PA, the Pro-Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. Continuing a long legacy of fine music there, he administers a busy liturgical, choral, concert, and broadcasting schedule. In 2002, under Laubach’s leadership, St. Stephen’s large Austin and Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ was rebuilt by the Berghaus Organ Company of Chicago. A new Solo division was added to the instrument in 2008. This organ has been universally praised, and was featured on the cover of the February 2005 issue of The Diapason. It’s heard regularly on Music from St. Stephen’s, broadcast weekly on WVIA 89.9 FM, the local affiliate of National Public Radio, and has been featured several times on Pipedreams, a program of organ music broadcast nationwide through American Public Media.
In 2008 Bishop Paul Marshall made Mark Honorary Canon Precentor of the Diocese of Bethlehem in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to the musical and liturgical life of the Diocese. Canon Laubach is a member of the Commission on Liturgy and Music for the Diocese, and has served as a faculty member for diocesan sponsored instruction through the Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Congregations, a unique program offering education and certification to part-time musicians working in parishes of the Episcopal Church USA.
Canon Laubach also continues a busy schedule of teaching and coaching private organ students privately and through Marywood University in Scranton PA. Several of his students have distinguished themselves in competitions, continuing studies, and as church musicians in posts around the country. Mark has served as a faculty member for Pipe Organ Encounters sponsored by the AGO in Philadelphia, Lancaster PA, Harrisburg PA, Baltimore, and Bethlehem PA, and has been invited to serve as an adjudicator for numerous organ competitions. He has presented master classes for AGO chapters, and is in frequent demand for leading hymn festivals and presenting workshops and lectures on such topics as liturgical planning, hymnody, basic improvisation, pastoral care through music, and service playing skills.
Mark Laubach is a past regional chairman of the Association of Anglican Musicians and has served several times as Dean of the Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Through its affiliation with the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in America, St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre serves as host for the annual RSCM King’s College Summer Choir Training Course. The largest of the North American RSCM course offerings, it hosts between 150 and 200 children and adults from across the country each year. Mr. Laubach served as Course Manager for three years and now acts as principal organist and liaison between the course staff and St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral.