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
Specializing in and exclusively performing works written for four hands and four feet at one pipe organ console, celebrated duo organists Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault have made a significant historical contribution to the pipe organ repertoire through their commissioning, arranging, premiering, and recording of nearly sixty organ duets. For their work and their renowned artistry they have indisputably earned “The World's Premiere Duo-Organ Team” title given them by the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.
The Chenaults' 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. Since then, the Chenaults have commissioned duets, in a wide range of compositional styles, from Ronald Arnatt, David Briggs, Charles Callahan, Melinda Clark, Gary Davison, Pamela Decker, Alan Gibbs, Naji Hakim, Robert Hobby, Gerre Hancock, Francis Jackson, 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 popular Christmas carols, Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” Wagner opera arias, and a medley of songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
Their immense popularity has caused them to be featured recitalists at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians, the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, the International Summer Organ Festival at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in San Diego, and at venues such as the Washington National Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), York Minster Cathedral (England), Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, the (now former) Crystal Cathedral in California, the Mormon Tabernacle, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, and in numerous other venues coast to coast.
Mr. and Mrs. Chenault, natives of Virginia, received their Bachelor of Music degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University where they studied 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.
In 1975, Mr. and Mrs. Chenault were appointed Organists and Choirmasters of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta. The Choir of All Saints’ has recorded two CDs for Towerhill Records featuring Christmas music, A Christmas Alleluia (TH-71996) and spirituals, Promised Land (TH-71997). 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 and 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. 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 widely acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. The duo has been featured numerous times on American Public Media’s radio show Pipedreams and National Public Radio’s “Performance Today.” Their four organ duet recordings are on the Gothic label. 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 Ruffati 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 (St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Amarillo, TX) and Aeolian-Skinner (Washington National Cathedral). Their CDs have received rave reviews in The American Record Guide, The Organists’ Review, The Tracker, Choir & Organ, The American Organist, and The Diapason journals. Several volumes of The Chenault Organ Duet Library Collection have been published by Warner Bros. Pub., Inc. and are now available for purchase through the Chenaults’ website (www.chenaultduo.com). MorningStar Publishers has just released The Chenault Organ Duet Series, featuring many of the duo’s commissioned works, including the most newly-commissioned works as well as several which were previously unpublished.
In mid-June 2018, Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault will retire, following a 43-year tenure, from their positions at All Saints Episcopal Church, Atlanta, and will be available for full-time concertizing, recording, and continuing their duet commissioning work.
Photo credit: Parlee Chambers