Programs

Music Ministries

Abington Presbyterian Church is both a center for worship and a place for the exchange of ideas and cultural opportunities for the community, a tangible symbol of God's presence in our everyday activities.  Music has long played an important role in the life of this church.

Musical leadership for our ongoing worship life includes two children's choirs, a youth choir, and an adult choir, as well as bell choirs for children, youth, and adults incorporating ringers of all ages and abilities.

Musical Leadership

John Sall Director of Music Ministries
G. Stanley Powell Minister of Music Emeritus
Ethel Geist Organist & Accompanist
Janet Tebbel Director of Handbells
Ruth Ideen-Sall Director of Children's Choirs
Kathryn Messina Chair, Worship and Music Council
Alan Keiter Chair, Music at Abington Committee
Alan Keiter Organ Curator

John Sall

John SallDirector of Music Ministries
jsall@apcusa.org

John Sall serves Abington Presbyterian Church, founded in 1714, as Director of Music Ministries.  He leads youth and adult choirs and the Abington Symphony Orchestra and oversees congregational music programs and the Music at Abington concert series. With a background including organ, choral, and church music studies, Kenyan percussion choral accompaniments, and work with children, youth, and adults, John brings a variety of personal and professional experiences to the musical worship life of Abington Presbyterian Church. He has developed unique and creative programs which combine the rich and varied resources of the Abington Symphony Orchestra and Oratorio Choir in literature ranging from baroque cantatas to newly composed works for a cappella choir or solo orchestra, as well as classic Oratorios from the 18th to the 20th Centuries.

John Sall's interest in music was fostered in the rich resources of strong school, church, and private music study in Holdrege, Nebraska, and through the Lutheran Summer Music program.  A graduate of St. Olaf College (Minnesota), John was uniquely involved in the strong performance tradition of the school as a member of the St. Olaf Choir, St. Olaf Orchestra, and St. Olaf Band in addition to his studies in Church Music and Organ with John Ferguson; he received the Bachelor of Music degree in Church Music and Organ magna cum laude.  John Sall studied conducting with Alan Harler and completed the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2007 and was honored with the Elaine Brown Tribute Award, presented by the choral department each year to an outstanding student for their work in "relating music to broader issues of community-building and human expression."  Following graduation from the program, John was immediately invited to teach conducting to beginning students.  In 2010 Sall was invited to serve as a visiting Choral Scholar and returns this year as conductor of the Temple Women's Choir, and he regularly covers rehearsals with the Contemporary Music Ensemble.  John has studied choral conducting and worked in masterclass settings with Joseph Flummerfelt, David Hayes, Dale Warland, and Robert Scholz, and has studied orchestral conducting with Luis Biava and Steven Amundson.

John enjoys composing and orchestrating for his ensembles and in other settings, distinguishing himself as the Grand Prize winner in the First Annual Composition Contest for Young Composers, Riverside Church, New York, with his anthem, "Is Not This The Fast That I Choose?" composed for choir, organ and string quartet. This work was selected by the Harmony of Hearts program of Cross International as one of their featured pieces in 2009. (An interview about the piece is here.)  Sall has published percussion performance suggestions for several African hymns and choral anthems, and he helped develop and lead an experiential day camp to teach liturgy and worship to children.  John is a member of the American Guild of Organists participating in the Philadelphia chapter through regular appearances on the Tuesday recital series, as a conductor for a chapter hymn festival, and on the program committee. He served as president of the Rochester (Minn.) Area Chapter of the Choristers Guild, and is a member of ACDA. John came to Abington in 2001 and makes a home with his wife Ruth and their three daughters.

 

Ethel Geist

Ethel GeistOrganist and Accompanist

Organist Ethel Geist, daughter of a Lutheran pastor, began her church music involvement playing piano, then organ, while growing up in Ohio. With a major in clarinet, and as concert mistress of the touring concert band, she received her Bachelor of Music Education degree (cum laude) from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and her Master of Arts in Music Education from The Ohio State University.

Although Ethel's life as an educator consisted of 32 years teaching public school music in Ohio and New Jersey (15 years in Voorhees, NJ), she remained active in church music.

Most recently, Ethel served Trinity Lutheran Church in Perkasie, PA, as Director of Music/Organist and Associate in Ministry, leading an extensive music ministry.

Ethel is active in the Philadelphia American Guild of Organists (AGO) Chapter, where she served as the Dean from 2003 to 2005, chaired Promotion for the 2002 National Convention, and served as Education Chair and as an Executive Committee member. She is also involved with other AGO chapters, Choristers Guild, American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Organ Historical Society, and the Hymn Society.

When Ethel retired from teaching school, she began to study organ, concentrating on its concert repertoire, with Dennis Elwell, and continues this "hobby." She and her husband, Norm, who is also a church musician, live in Quakertown.

 

Janet Tebbel

Director of Handbells

Janet Tebbel shares her unique balance of church music, education, and ringing skills with the congregation through her leadership of children's, youth, and adult handbell choirs.

A member of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, for 37 years Janet Tebbel has played the carillon there and organized the summer recital series.  She also plays weekly recitals at Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown, and appears in recital around the country and globe both as a solo performer and as a member of the carillon duo "The Treblemakers".  She enjoyed her career as music educator and Head of the Music Department at Rosemont (PA) School of the Holy Child where she was involved in teaching classroom music, coordinating private lessons, and planning of festival choral gatherings and regular liturgies for the school.

Janet lives in the Laverock section of Glenside with her husband, Wayne and little black dog, Cassie. Besides carillon activities, Janet enjoys gardening, travel and spending time at the family's cabin in the woods near State College. Their son and daughter-in-law live in Germantown and are expecting their first baby.  Their daughter lives in Washington, DC and works for a startup designing programs to support underserved school districts.

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