Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Music (Organ/Sacred Music)
East Studio Building, JS235
- Doctor of Sacred Music , Union Theological Seminary, 1978
- Master of Sacred Music, Union Theological Seminary, 1965
- Bachelor of Sacred Music , Illinois Wesleyan University, 1963
Marilyn Keiser is Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Music (Organ/Sacred Music) at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she taught courses in sacred music and applied organ for 25 years. Prior to her appointment at IU, she was organist and director of music at All Souls Parish in Asheville, N.C., and music consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, holding both positions from 1970 to 1983.
A native of Springfield, Ill., Keiser began her organ study with Franklin Perkins then attended Illinois Wesleyan University, where she studied with Lillian McCord, earning a Bachelor of Sacred Music degree. Keiser entered the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she studied with Alec Wyton and graduated summa cum laude in 1965 with a Master of Sacred Music degree. Her Doctor of Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary was awarded in 1977.
Upon graduation from Union Seminary, she became assistant organist of The Riverside Church in New York City, and one year later, was appointed associate organist and choirmaster of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a position she held from 1966 to 1970.
In constant demand as an organ recitalist and workshop leader, Keiser has appeared throughout the United States in concerts sponsored by churches, colleges, and chapters of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). She has been a featured artist for regional conventions of the AGO as well as for national conventions in Dallas and Washington, D.C., where she played with orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and in Detroit, where she appeared with the Detroit Symphony. In addition, she has appeared as featured artist for the International Congress of Organists in Cambridge, England; in concert at the Royal Victoria Hall with the Singapore Symphony; at the American Cathedral in Paris; the Southern Cathedrals Festival in Winchester, England; and the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.
An active member of the AGO, Keiser has been a member of the national council and served as national registrar, a member of the national nominating committee, and dean of the Western North Carolina chapter. She holds associate, choirmaster, and fellowship degrees from the guild.
A virtuoso concert organist, Keiser has performed across the United States. In addition, she has given lectures and workshops in church music for all of the major denominations, specializing in music for small churches. She has been president of the Association of Anglican Musicians, a contributing editor to the hymnal Ecumenical Praise, served on the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Church Music, and was a consultant to the Hymn Music Committee for the Episcopal Hymnal 1982. She served for five years as chair of the Advisory Board for the Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Congregations and is past-chair of the Worship and Music Commission for the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, as well as director of music at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington, Ind. She is the author of a publication in the Church Hymnal Teaching Series titled Teaching Music in Small Churches.
Keiser is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Lambda Delta national honor societies. She is a national honorary member of Sigma Alpha Iota, a national professional music fraternity. She is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America, the 1973 edition of Who's Who in North Carolina, and the 1975 World Who’s Who of Musicians. She was one of two alumni of Illinois Wesleyan University chosen for its first annual presentation of Outstanding Young Alumni Awards. In May 1995, she was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. In April 1997, she was presented the Unitas Citation from Union Theological Seminary, and in April 1998, she was presented with a Teaching Excellence Recognition Award from the Jacobs School of Music. She was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from Illinois Wesleyan University in February 2002 and was named Chancellor’s Professor at Indiana University in April 2002. In April 2013, she was awarded the American Guild of Organists Distinguished Artist Award.
Keiser has been heard in performance on National Public Radio broadcasts throughout the United States and has recorded for Loft Recordings (Music of Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s) and Pro Organo (The People Respond-Amen, Spiritual Pairs, Studies in Relief, and In Praise of the Organ: Latin Choral and Organ Music of Zoltan Kodaly). She has also recorded Seasons of Festivity at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Centennial Flourish at St. James’ Church in Hendersonville, N.C., and The Music of Dan Locklair at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, Ind.