|From its formal organization in 1838, music has been an integral part of the worship life of our congregation. Since the church's beginning, a quartet of professional singers has been maintained. In 1943, the quartet was increased to a paid choir of sixteen singers. From the 1970s, the music program has been enlarged to include choirs of Kindergarten and above, handbell ensembles for middle school and above, and the adult choir opened to volunteer singers and the number or professional singers limited to the quartet of soloists/section leaders.
The first organ, built by the now-defunct Jardine firm, was installed in 1862. A second Jardine was installed in 1884; the dedicatory recital was performed by Ethelbert Nevin, a son of the congregation and composer of such popular works as "The Rosary," "Narcissus," and "Mighty Lak'a Rose." The third organ, built by the defunct E.M. Skinner Organ Company was installed in the chancel of the Sanctuary in 1913. John Weaver, organ professor at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the Julliard School of Music, New York City, and director of music at New York's Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, performed the dedicatory recital on the 63-rank Holtkamp organ, currently installed in the Sanctuary, on November 10, 1991.
During the entire course of its history, this congregation has had a great appreciation for, love of, and support for the use of visual arts not only in worship, but throughout the church. Works of various styles of paintings and several examples of needlework are on permanent display. Over the years, the church's Worship and Music Committee has sponsored many arts festival that centers on some aspect of our Christian life as reflected in art.
R. Craig Dobbins was born and reared in West
obtained the Bachelor of Music degree cum laude from Baldwin-Wallace
College, Berea, Ohio. Dobbins holds the degrees of Master
of Music in Organ Performance and Master of Music in Music History
from The University of Michigan. He also studied at Clare College,
Cambridge University. His organ teachers include Robert Clark,
Wilbur Held, John David Peterson, Warren Berryman, and William Waxler.
In August 1987, R. Craig Dobbins became the Director
of Music Ministries of The Presbyterian Church of Sewickley, Pennsylvania.
For the American Guild of Organists, he has served
as Sub-Dean, a member of the Executive Committee, and Coordinator
for Professional Concerns of the Pittsburgh Chapter. Dobbins was the chairperson of the Program Committee for the 1999
Region III Convention and also served four terms on the Nominating
Committee of Region III.
For the Presbyterian Association of Musicians,
Dobbins has served as the Treasurer of the Pittsburgh Chapter.
He was a member of the Planning Committees for the 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005
and 2010 Westminster Conferences on Worship and Music and is serving on the 2010 committee,, as well as on the
Planning Committee for the 2002 Albuquerque Conference on Worship
and Music, He directed the Westminster Conference in 1996. In
1994, 2000 and 2006 Dobbins served on the staff of the Montreat Conference
on Worship and Music and will do so again in 2010, as well as on
the staffs of the 1989, 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2007 Westminster Conferences.
Dobbins also served three terms on the National Nominating Committee,
one as chairman. In 1997, he was elected to a three-year term
on the organization’s National Board and in 2000 was elected
National President-Elect. He became the organization’s
National President in 2002, a term which concluded on July 31, 2004.
He was previously the Director of Music of the
First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville, Florida. While in Jacksonville, he
served as the Dean and Sub-Dean of the Jacksonville Chapter of The
American Guild of Organists, and was a member of the Board of Directors
of the Delius Association of Florida, Inc. Prior to that,
Dobbins was the Director of Music of the First Presbyterian Church
of Greenville, Mississippi, where he served on the Boards of Directors
of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Delta Music Association.
Dobbins has been accredited a Certified Church
Musician by the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. He
is listed in the 1985 edition of Who's Who in the South and Southwest and in the 1983
edition of Outstanding Young Men of America. He has
performed as a soloist and an accompanist throughout much of the
Midwest and the South, and has also composed several choral and handbell
He is married to the former Susan French Nicol,
an attorney serving as a Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They are the parents
of one daughter, Maggie.