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First Link Professor Myron Searle Wright dies at 86

By : Ingrid Husisian

Myron Searle Wright, Binghamton University’s first Link Professor of Organ, died Thursday, June 3, at 86. As a boy, Wright performed on the organ at the Capitol Theater in Binghamton, which had been installed by Link himself. That opportunity allowed Wright to develop a friendship with Link, who had become impressed with Wright’s musical abilities.

Link followed Wright’s career and worked to attract him back to Binghamton after Wright spent nearly two decades on the faculties of both Columbia University and the Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music.

Alice Mitchell, associate professor of music, who served as department chair when Wright joined the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences faculty, remembers him for his efforts in involving the great inventor and philanthropist Edwin A. Link with the music department.

In 1973, Link donated an organ to Casadesus Hall, which Wright helped design. Wright played at the first recital. “It was a great moment and the beginning of the very close connection between Ed Link and the music department,” Mitchell said.

In 1977, Wright became the Link Professor of Organ, a title he held until his retirement in 1984. His position also included the responsibility of organ maintenance, a Link graduate assistantship in music and an organ concert series.

Mitchell remembers Wright as a versatile musician. “Not only could he play the most challenging classical music, but he was also a great jazz pianist,” she said. “He played a very mean cocktail piano.”

Wright, the first American to perform at Westminster Abbey who served as the national president of the American Guild of Organists, was also organist and choir director at the First Congregational Church in Binghamton and organist for the B.C. Pops Orchestra.

Judy Giblin, administrative assistant at the First Congregational Church, sang in the church choir and was soloist during Wright’s pre-concert performance before the B.C. Pops. “Anyone who ever heard him play was not only impressed but moved,” she said. “Anyone who worked with him learned an incredible amount. He knew everything. Searle wrote absolutely gorgeous music. We still sing it today.”

A memorial service was held Sunday at Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton. A celebration of his life and music is being planned for the fall. Memorial gifts may be made to Roberson Museum and Science Center, 30 Front St., Binghamton, for the continual care of the Link Theatre Organ or to the charity of one’s choice.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08