America’s Premier Pipe Organ Duo
“No one can contest the spectacular facility, musicianship, and ensemble that these two offer in every musical style represented. Amazing artistry and technique, creative and diverse programming, and an accurate sense of what the public—from casual listeners to highly trained church musicians—will enjoy and appreciate.” (The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians)
Named "The World's Premiere Duo-Organ Team" by The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault, duo-organists, have concertized extensively throughout the United States and in Europe. Specializing in works written for two performers, the Chenaults have commissioned and premiered over seventy organ duets, thereby making a significant historical contribution to this slighted area of organ literature. Because of their unique and refreshing repertoire, combined with their exciting and sensitive artistry, the Chenaults are in demand as recitalists and have established themselves as America’s leading duo-organists.
The Chenault’s duet career began in 1979 when Arthur Wills of England’s Ely Cathedral composed Toccata for Two for them, followed by John Rutter’s Variations on An Easter Theme in 1982. Both duets were premiered by the Chenaults at Washington Cathedral and are published. They have been featured recitalists at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the International Summer Organ Festival at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in San Diego, Helzberg Hall (Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, MO), the opening recital for the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, as well as the Crystal Cathedral, the Mormon Tabernacle, Washington National Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), Woolsey Hall (Yale University), York Minster Cathedral (England), the Atlanta Summer Organ Festival, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. The Chenaults also have commissioned duets from Ronald Arnatt, David Briggs, Charles Callahan, Melinda Clark, Pamela Decker, Alan Gibbs, Naji Hakim, Gerre Hancock, Rachel Laurin, Gaston Litaize, Douglas Major, Jefferson McConnaughey, Philip Moore, Bruce Neswick, Dorothy Papadakos, Stephen Paulus, Craig Phillips, Daniel Pinkham, Robert Powell, Myron Roberts, Richard Shephard, Conrad Susa, Paul Lindsley Thomas, and Nicholas White. Additionally, the Chenaults have arranged several pieces for organ duet, including several popular Christmas carols, Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
Mr. and Mrs. Chenault, natives of Virginia, completed their Bachelor of Music degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University studying organ with Lawrence Robinson. Mr. Chenault received his Master of Music degree in organ performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he and Mrs. Chenault studied organ with Wayne Fisher. Upon graduation, Mr. Chenault became a Fellow in Church Music at Washington Cathedral studying with Dr. Paul Callaway. Other organ teachers include Harold Abmyer, Arthur Poister, and John Fenstermaker.
Mr. and Mrs. Chenault are Organists and Choirmasters Emeriti of All Saints' Episcopal Church, Atlanta, where from 1975–2018 they directed an extensive music program and concert series, as well as installed and played the dedication of a new organ in 2003 by John-Paul Buzard (Op. 29, IV/87 ranks). The Chenaults taught choral music at The Lovett School in Atlanta for 31 years, where Mr. Chenault was the Director of Fine Arts and Choral Director of the Upper School. Mrs. Chenault was Choral Director of the Middle School. Their choirs won many national competitions, and were featured at American Choral Director's Conventions, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Washington Cathedral, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. The Choir of All Saints' has recorded two CDs for Towerhill Records, Inc. featuring Christmas music, A Christmas Alleluia (TH-71996) and spirituals, Promised Land (TH-71997), www.towerhill-recordings.com. Mr. Chenault made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1996 conducting Mozart’s Coronation Mass featuring a 220-voice choir, soloists, and orchestra. Additionally, Mr. Chenault is a frequent adjudicator for many choral festivals and is a published composer of choral and organ works. He is a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).
Recitals by the Chenaults have been critically acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. They have been featured on "Pipedreams" (a weekly series of the American Public Radio network) and record on the Gothic Record Label (1-800-735-4720), www.gothicrecords.com. Their premiere recording, 20th Century Organ Music for Two (CD 49043), was recorded at Roswell United Methodist Church (Georgia), 20th Century Organ Music for Two, Volume II (CD 49073) was recorded at Washington Cathedral, and their third CD, Christmas at Spivey Hall (CD 49084), was recorded on the 79-rank Ruffatti organ at Clayton State College, Morrow, Georgia. The Chenaults’ most recent recording—20th–21st Century Organ Music for Two, Volume IV (CD 49292)—was recorded on two historic organs by E. M. Skinner & Aeolian-Skinner (Washington National Cathedral and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Amarillo, TX). Gothic Records also released Mr. Chenault's first solo recording, Concert Favorites (G-49305-06)—a two-CD set of rarely performed and recorded music of the 19th- and 20th-century French, Belgian, and Dutch organ schools—recorded on the magnificent Buzard organ, All Saints' Episcopal Church, Atlanta. Their CDs have been on the best-selling list nationally and have received rave reviews. Several volumes of The Chenault Organ Duet Library Collection have been published by Warner Bros. Pub., Inc. and may be purchased directly from the Chenaults by using the order form on the Chenaults web page (www.concertartists.com/theChenaults.html). Their newest organ duets are published by Morning Star Music Publication under the Chenault Organ Duet Series.
The Chenaults were featured at the 1992 AGO Convention in Atlanta, premiering organ duets by Gaston Litaize and Naji Hakim, and on “Performance Today,” National Public Radio’s daily classical music program, which was broadcasted live from Spivey Hall in Morrow, Georgia. The Chenaults also premiered an organ duet by Stephen Paulus for the Conference of Anglican Musicians in Norfolk, Virginia, and were named “Organists of the Year” by the National Music Director Magazine, Sacred Music USA. The Chenault duo’s most recent duet premieres featured “Fantaisie à Deux” by Rachel Laurin and “A Spiritual Romp for Two” by Nicholas White at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church for the Atlanta Summer Organ Festival. Rachel Laurin’s “Cantabile à Deux” was premiered by the Chenault Duo at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta.
The Chenaults will perform a “virtual” recital videotaped in August 2020 for the 2020 East Texas Pipe Organ Festival. This performance will be aired on the Festival’s website the week of November 8–12. Please visit http://www.easttexaspipeorganfestival.com/ for the broadcast day and time and for a complete list of other festival events.
The Chenaults are represented in North America exclusively by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, LLC.
Photo credit: Parlee Teague