William Teague dead at 97

July 6, 2020
William Teague
William Teague

William Chandler Teague, 97, died June 27. He was born July 8, 1922, in Gainesville, Texas, where he began musical training at age three with his mother. At age 12 he became the organist for a large Methodist church. As a teenager he studied organ in Dallas, Texas, and entered Southern Methodist University at age 16. His studies were interrupted when Alexander McCurdy sent for him to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His studies at Curtis were interrupted by World War II, as he joined the United States Army Air Force as a chaplain’s assistant. He returned to Curtis after the war to study and serve as McCurdy’s assistant, playing for Sunday oratorio performances. Accompanying Teague to Philadelphia was his young bride, the former Lucille Ridinger, whom he had married during the war. They had met at a Methodist camp when they were 12 years old. Teague’s organ teachers included Dora Poteet Barclay, Alexander McCurdy, Marie-Claire Alain, Harold Gleason, and Catharine Crozier.

After graduation from Curtis in 1948, Teague came to Shreveport, Louisiana, to accept the position of organist/choirmaster at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (now the location of The Church of the Holy Cross) and a teaching position at Centenary College of Louisiana in the organ and sacred music departments. He taught for 44 years earning the rank of full professor. He was later designated Professor of Music Emeritus at the college, which granted him an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree. He served as accompanist as he and his wife traveled with the Centenary College Choir to various countries including China. He served St. Mark’s Cathedral for 39 years before being designated Organist Emeritus.

He maintained an active concert career, performing in such venues as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria, Westminster Abbey, Trinity Church Wall Street and the Riverside Church in New York City, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and the armed forces academies. He was invited to play behind the Iron Curtain with concerts in East Berlin, Poland, and in other countries. He and Lucille were in East Berlin at the Wall when the first blows were struck to tear it down. He would perform in Japan, Australia, all over the United States and Europe, and in North Africa. In addition to solo organ concerts, William joined his son, Chandler, in presenting music for organ and percussion in concerts across the United States. Following his retirement from St. Mark’s Cathedral, Teague was interim organist for churches throughout the region.

Teague was active in the American Guild of Organists, Association of Anglican Musicians, the Sewanee Music Conference, and the Evergreen Summer Conference. He was a Fellow in Church Music at the Washington National Cathedral. For ten summers Teague was summer organist at St. Ann’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport, Maine. He was a founding member of the Baroque Artists of Shreveport, founded the Great Masterpiece Series at St. Mark’s Cathedral, recorded a weekly organ concert for radio broadcast for eight years, trained thousands of choristers in the tradition of Anglican music, and played for hundreds of weddings, funerals and festivals. During his career Teague recorded organ literature including Dupré’s Stations of the Cross, Messiaen’s Serene Alleluias, and Healey Willan’s Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue. In 1988, the City of Shreveport honored him with William C. Teague Day, and the Teague Music Scholarship was established at Centenary College. The Teague-Smith Scholarship Fund for young choristers was later established at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Teague is listed in numerous volumes of Who’s Who including the International Who’s Who and was recently honored by the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival.

William Chandler Teague is survived by a son, Chandler Teague, and wife, Janis Adams Teague, of Shreveport, Louisiana; a daughter, Lynda Gayle Teague Deacon of Memphis, Tennessee; three grandchildren, Sandra Deacon, Clay Deacon, and Hunter Deacon; and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 77 years, Lucille Ridinger Teague.

A combined service for Dr. and Mrs. Teague will be held at a later date. Memorials may be made to the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, 616 Jordan St., Shreveport, LA 71101; the Teague-Smith Scholarship Fund at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 908 Rutherford St., Shreveport, LA 71104; or the Teague Music Scholarship Fund at Centenary College, 2911 Centenary Blvd., Shreveport, LA 71104.

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