Craig S. Williams
Organist & Choirmaster, USMA
West Point Cadet Chapel
Craig S. Williams is Organist and Choirmaster of the Cadet Chapel, United States Military Academy West Point, where he plays the world’s largest church all-pipe organ and directs the Cadet Chapel Choir. He is only the fourth organist to hold that position since the present Cadet Chapel building was erected in 1910.
At West Point, Mr. Williams oversees the music programs of five chapels, in which are given well over 400 services, concerts and various other functions annually. As director of the Cadet Chapel Choir, he has been regularly called upon to conduct the school songs in wreath laying ceremonies on the Plain and commencement ceremonies in Michie Stadium, performing before the president of the United States and other dignitaries. He works with two other organists and two pipe organ curators, who maintain the five pipe organs on post. Personally, Mr. Williams performs at approximately 200 of these chapel functions, including worship services, weddings, funerals, class reunion memorial services, recitals, choir concerts and VIP organ demonstrations performing for royalty, cabinet members, generals, members of Congress and many other international government and military figures. He has been featured on television numerous times and appears as organist on the West Point Glee Club’s DVD Stand Ye Steady.
He also keeps active in the vibrant Hudson Valley music community, occasionally performing with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the USMA Concert Band, the annual Bachfest and myriad other activities provided in the area. He started both the USMA Handbell Choir and Cadet Chapel Community Choir which regularly participates in the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at West Point and also performances of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Williams has performed on both organ and piano for over 40 years and continues to perform nationwide. His organ credits include performances at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and at Segerstrom Hall in Orange County, CA with the Pacific Chorale under the baton of John Alexander, in addition to giving numerous recitals and workshops for prominent cathedrals and churches on both coasts. He has also played on the summer series at Ocean Grove Auditorium. When J. Christopher Pardini was Organist of the famed Crystal Cathedral in California, Mr. Williams was given the opportunity of performing two recitals there and playing for the Hour of Power television broadcast.
Mr. Williams recorded a CD, released by Calcante Recordings (CD046), performing on the historic J.W. Steere organ at the Baptist Temple in Brooklyn and is one of the best records of that organ before it was damaged in a tragic fire several years ago. The CD is available through the Organ Historical Society catalog: http://www.ohscatalog.org/allglinhi.html
Mr. Williams is active in the American Guild of Organists, presently serving as dean of the Central Hudson Valley chapter. In the early 90’s, he served as dean of the Brooklyn Chapter. Also, he has been a featured performer for conventions held by the AGO and also the American Institute of Organbuilders.
For most of his performing career, he has been a church musician. Before coming to West Point, he was the Organist and Music Director of Calvary Baptist Church on W. 57th Street in New York City and also served for many years at the ecumenical Protestant Chapel at John F. Kennedy International Airport. For four years, he was a commissioner on the New York City Presbytery, advising and participating in the music programs of their monthly meetings.
Mr. Williams’ work on organ followed many years of piano studies, as his services being organist and choir director superseded his performance schedule on piano. He has been the only one to achieve Distinguished Status in receiving the Church Music Certificate from Westminster Conservatory (Westminster Choir College), which led him to the full masters degree program at Westminster Choir College. There he was honored to become the first Currin Scholar in organ performance, a full graduate level scholarship, studying with Eugene Roan. His piano performance degrees include the masters from the Juilliard School where he performed with the Juilliard Symphony at Lincoln Center, a student of Martin Canin; and the bachelors from the University of Southern California, studying with Daniel Pollack.
In addition to his duties at West Point, he serves on the conservatory faculty at Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ) and is adjunct professor of organ at Nyack College (Nyack, NY). He is devoted to his wife, Lee, and the proud father of Abigail and Stewart.
For further information regarding his position at West Point, please see his interview in the July 2006 issue of The American Organist. Also, please see the following websites for details regarding Cadet Chapel events and information.