Marcellus Breach, an organist, pianist, and choir director, has enjoyed a distinguished career as a church musician for over fifty years in both Seventh-day Adventist and other denominational churches. He also taught at an Adventist college and has served as a preferred accompanist for soloists and choirs who have performed for nationally-known organizations and in notable venues in the Washington, D.C., area.
Marcellus was born in Charleston, South Carolina, one of six children and the second of three sons of Allen and Julia Breach. Musical influences in his early years included his mother, who was a church pianist and organist, the sound of the pipe organ in the Lutheran church across the street from his home that caught his ear when he was four, and the rehearsing of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra every Tuesday evening in a hall adjacent to that church. He started taking piano lessons at age eleven, band instrument instruction in high school at age fourteen, and organ lessons at age eighteen during his freshman year at Oakwood College, now University, in Alabama.
Marcellus continued organ lessons in Augsburg, Germany, while serving in the U.S. Army 24th Infantry Band and as assistant conductor of and pianist for the Soldierís Chorus. From 1962 to 1963, he was organist for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Chapel.
Following his discharge from the army, he enrolled at the Howard University School of Music, where he studied organ under Howard Keith, Harvey Van Buren, and Conrad Bernier. Additional study was taken under Mildred Andrews at the University of Oklahoma during that time. He graduated cum laude from HUSM with a B.Mus. in organ performance and a minor in piano in 1972. He was also awarded membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, a music honor society.
Breach continued graduate level study in organ at Catholic University of America under Conrad Bernier, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga under Charles Greasby, and at Howard University under his brother, Allen O. Breach. He completed all study requirements for an M.Mus. summa cum laude in organ performance at HU in 1987.
During his study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, he held a number of organ and choir directing positions in Adventist and other Protestant churches in the Washington, D.C., area. In 1974 he moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where he taught as an adjunct instructor in organ, piano, and theory at Oakwood College and served as an organist, assistant choir director, and childrenís choir director for the OC church. While in Huntsville he also served as organist at the Lakewood United Methodist and First Christian churches in that city.
Upon his return to the D.C. area in 1985, he became the organist for the Metropolitan SDA Church. In subsequent years, he served as organist and/or choir director at several Adventist churches in the area, serving for the longest period at Capital Memorial SDA for thirteen years. He was honored for his service at Capital when the Guild of Adventist Musicians cited him as Outstanding Organist at its first annual Music Awards program in 2008. Most recently he has been an associate organist at Sligo, Takoma Park, and Beltsville, Maryland, SDA churches.
Breach also resumed working in other churches as he returned to Washington. He returned to the position of organist/choirmaster at Asbury Methodist, a position he had held for five years before going to Alabama, and held it for five more years. After serving consecutive terms totaling seven years at a Presbyterian and Congregational church, he served for ten years from 1997 to 2007 as organist at the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, Maryland, and was in charge of youth instrumental players and assisted as fill-in director for the Sanctuary Choir and Gospel Choir. He has since served in various capacities at other area churches and is now serving as organist for the First Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In his years as a church musician, Breach has conducted a diverse repertoire of sacred music, including major works such as Handelís the Messiah, Mendelsohnís The Elijah; Haydnís The Creation, Saint SaŽnís A Christmas Oratorio, Duboisí Seven Last Words, Stainerís The Crucifixion, and others. As a performer he has played on the Washington National Cathedral Grand Organ several times, been an on-call accompanist for the Smithsonian Institutionís Museum of American History, and has played for soloists at the institution.
He has accompanied for two choir performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and also is accompanist for an Amalfi Choir and soloists. In that role he has participated in the Amalfi Coast Music Festivals in Maiori, Naples, and Amalfi, Italy.
Source: Information provided by Marcellus Breach, September and November 2012; 1940 U.S. Federal Census.