The American choral conductor, organist and composert, Raymond Weidner, was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He began piano lessons at the age of 6 and organ at 14, studying under David Ulrich of Philadelphia. At 16, he performed on the famous Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia, and during his high school years, he studied with Reginald Lunt in Lancaster, having won the chapter’s Young Artist’s Competition in 1969. He obtained his Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College where he studied with George Markey and Donald MacDonald; his Master of Music degree from Western Michigan University, and his Ph.D. from Michigan State. He also holds a degree from Chesapeake Theological Seminary. He has performed under such notable conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Roger Wagner, and David Willcocks.
Raymond Weidner has over forty years experience in the field of church music, having served churches in Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and has been active as a clinician and adjudicator. He developed professional and semi-professional community choruses in Michigan (Grand Rapids Chamber Choir) and Oklahoma (Ars Nova Ensemble), wrote and produced a weekly radio program of choral music over KCMA-FM (Oklahoma). As an organist, he has performed throughout the USA, at Salisbury Cathedral (England), and on the famous Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia. He was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra Society (Jackson, Mississippi), and is the author of two books.
Raymond Weidner is a nationally recognized composer of instrumental, choral, and organ works. His compositions are found in the catalogues of National Music, Emerson Music, MorningStar Music, Paraclete Press, St. James Press, Wayne Leupold Editions, and Zimbel Press, and have been performed by such prestigious choirs as the Westminster Choir (Princeton, NJ) among other professional and collegiate choruses. His works have been featured at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Caroilina and nationally over NPR’s Theme and Variations. His compositions have received excellent reviews in both local and national venues: Psalm 130 for chorus and orchestra was called “…a work of epic grandeur” (NPR), O Sacrum Convivium for women’s ensemble and harp was called “…a lovely work…in a style similar to the works of John Taverner.” (American Record Guide), and of the cantata O Vos Omnes for choir, organ, and strings the Annapolis Capital has said, “The piece was easily the most memorable choral work on the program, which is really saying something, considering that it was juxtaposed against Felix Mendelssohn’s O Sacred Head and Jean Langlais’ Missa Salve Regina…This is clearly a work that should become part of the mainstream Lenten choral repertoire.” Of his French Sketches for organ, The American Organist has said, “If these pieces were advertised as recently discovered works by Mulet or the aforementioned composers [Marcel Dupré, Maurice Duruflé, and Cochereau] there’d be a run on the music store…you’ll want to play them all.” His Missa Brevis was one of five works selected from the entire catalogue of Paraclete Press for performance at a service commemorating their 25th anniversary. In 2011 he won two national competitions sponsored by the American Guild of Organists (AGO) for its regional conventions in Lexington, Kentucky and Greensboro, North Carolina, and in 2012 his Te Deum for choir, brass, timpani, and organ was premiered under the auspices of the Church Music Institute (Dallas, Texas) with Paul Leddington Wright conducting. His works have been recorded on the Raven CD label.
Raymond Weidner has taught composition at Lynchburg College and Sweet Briar College, and is currently Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Lynchburg. His personal interests include drawing, painting, building furniture, and classic British sports cars. He and his wife Margie, a singer and professional music teacher, have two grown sons.