Music Ministry




At First Presbyterian Church, we strongly affirm the ability of music to address and engage us as a religious people. John Calvin once said that “music is a funnel into the heart through which should pour the word of God”. The First Presbyterian Church has maintained a long-standing tradition of musical opportunities. You can join a choir or a handbell ensemble to enhance and facilitate worship, or you can be a vital part of the congregational choir, our largest choir. You can also attend the wide variety of offerings provided by our Church’s Music/Fine Arts Series, now in its forty-second consecutive season. Years ago, I was in Montreal, Quebec, accompanying the Westmoreland Choral Society, at Christ Church Cathedral. In the narthex of the Cathedral, there was a brochure entitled “Singing in a Choir Can Be a Joy for a Lifetime”. This adage has been our choir motto at First Presbyterian Church since that time. We have changed it a bit to read, SINGING AND RINGING IN A CHOIR CAN BE A JOY FOR A LIFETIME. Edgar Highberger

Please visit the Music Ministry Soundcloud website to hear recordings of music at First Presbyterian Church from our three albums!


THE CHANCEL CHOIR leads the congregational song and offers anthems and responses in various styles and genres during the 10 A.M. worship service from September through June. It also sings for various other services throughout the year, including the Christmas Eve Festival of Lessons and Carols and the Maundy Thursday Communion Service. Please contact Ed Highberger (724-832-0150) for additional information. Rehearsals are in the Choir Room on Thursday, from 7:30 to 9 P.M., beginning on September 8.

THE KIRK RINGERS ring the Church’s Schulmerich handbells and Malmark Choirchimes at the 10 A.M. service and for the Christmas Eve Festival of Lessons and Carols. Rehearsals are on Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:30 P.M. in the Handbell Room, beginning on Thursday, September 15. The ability to read music is important. Please contact Ed Highberger for more information.

THE CHILDREN’S MUSIC MINISTRY takes place after the children’s sermon at the 10 A.M. on Sunday mornings in the choir room. The children finish at 11:10 A.M. This change has been made to accommodate children who cannot make the regularly scheduled Wednesday evening rehearsals of the past. Children learn vocal technique and the basic rudiments of music reading, in addition to the playing of choirchimes and the Orff percussion instruments. First rehearsal is on Sunday, September 11.

THE JOYFUL NOISE SINGERS (Grades 6-12) rehearse from 9:40 to 10:10 A.M. in the Handbell Room each Sunday morning. First meeting to be announced.

THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLES (High School and Adults) Karen Cole has just retired from her position at McKeesport Senior High School, where she was the director of prize-winning bands for many years.  She will continue working with instrumental ensembles at First Presbyterian.  The instrumental music program is for musicians of all ages and skill levels.  Our largest ensemble is an intergenerational concert band for occasional Sunday worship, which includes all of the traditional band instruments.  This group will play for the first time on Sunday, November 20 for the Christ, the King service.  Small ensembles are flexible, based on the liturgical calendar and on various abilities.

THE CHORAL SCHOLAR PROGRAM, instituted in 1987, and provided for by private families and the Church, continues to provide us with gifted soloists and section leaders for the Chancel Choir program.

THE ORGAN SCHOLAR PROGRAM provides talented middle school/high school pianists with complimentary organ lessons given by Ed Highberger. This season, Maria Onto, Jeffrey Patterson, and Jacob Gruce have been selected to be organ scholars. Maria is a Junior at Ligonier Valley High School, and is a member of St. Michaels of the Valley Episcopal Church in Rector. Jeffrey is a sixth grade student at the Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh, and is active in the music program at First Presbyterian Church. Jacob attends Greensburg-Salem High School, and is an active member of the Otterbein United Methodist Church.

THE TRAINING OF CHURCH MUSICIANS has been an essential part of our music program. Since 1974, over 150 students have had instruction on the church’s pipe organ. The majority of these students have been from Seton Hill University. Seton Hill students have also fulfilled their sacred music internship requirements at First Presbyterian Church.


The Dr. Edgar S. Highberger Memorial Music Fund

Ed’s Fiftieth Music Fund

The Thomas P. Cole III Memorial Music Fund

Your generosity is always so very much appreciated!

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