Organ Duets by Howard Hanson, Rayner Brown, Leo Sowerby, Barrie Cabena, Joseph Jongen and Gustav Merkel are played upon the Austin pipe organ of Asbury First United Methodist Church in Rochester, New York by David and Marian Craighead. The Hanson and Sowerby works are transcriptions by Marian and David Craighead. In the Sowerby, the Craigheads are joined by Tami L. Petty, soprano and John Beck, tubular bells.
Marian and David Craighead are native Pennsylvanians whose careers as church and concert organists extend back over fifty years.
A native of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, Marian’s early organ study was with Frank McCarrell in Harrisburg, following which she continued her training with Alexander McCurdy at the Westminster Choir College. From about 1939 to 1943 she was organist at the Market Square Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg, after which she was appointed assistant to Dr. McCurdy at the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Here her responsibility was to play the organ accompaniments for numerous oratorios presented at Dr. McCurdy’s regular Sunday afternoon vesper services.
Marian Craighead’s next move was to Los Angeles, where she was organist of the First Congregational Church, and in which church she and David were married in 1948.
David Craighead was born in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, but moved to Southern California at an early age. His first principal organ teacher was Clarence Mader, prior to study with Dr. McCurdy at the Curtis Institute. During his study at the Curtis Institute he was organist at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, and upon graduation assumed a similar position at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. During this time he was also instructor in organ at Occidental College.
Then in the summer of 1955 came the call for David to teach organ at the Eastman School of Music and the Craigheads then moved to Rochester, New York. At the same time he was appointed organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
One year later, in September, 1956, Marian was appointed organist of the Asbury First United Methodist Church which she continued to serve until her death on May 8, 1996. When honored by Asbury in 1991 she was cited for “her brilliant musical accomplishments, her never-ending loyalty, her boundless energy in pursuit of excellence, the generosity of her gifts and time, the warmth of her friendship, her patience as a teacher, and her selfless contributions to Asbury First.”
Asbury First United Methodist Church, Rochester, New York USA WEBSITE
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The American Record Guide “The organ duet repertory is bound to be unfamiliar to the general listener, and even to many organists. ... The Craigheads gave many organ duet recitals. Their many years of cultivating this rare performance medium led to an astounding degree of precision and teamwork. It is good to have this recorded document of their combined artistry.” - Gatens