Church musicians and concert pianists Becky Griffin Ramsey and Alice Griffin Walker can’t imagine life without music. Alice is organist and director of the senior adult choir at the Covington First Presbyterian Church. Becky, the eldest by ten minutes, is organist and director of music for the senior adults at the Covington First United Methodist Church and also serves as Organist at Oxford College. The identical twins began taking piano lessons at the age of five and were gifted with absolute pitch.
Both accepted Christ at the age of 11 and grew up attending the Peachtree Baptist Church in Atlanta. The twins were taught to arrange at an early age and played for convention centers and secular events. Their teacher, Mary Ethel Beyer, asked them to consider studying pipe organ and to think about church music as a vocation. Upon acceptance by audition, they studied organ for four years with Dr. Raymond J. Martin at Agnes Scott College and majored in music.
After graduating with Bachelors of Arts, they pursued careers in church music, while performing extensively as duo-performers. They studied organ performance with Dr. Timothy Wissler and Sarah Martin and completed master classes with Jean Langlais, Diane Bish, Dr. Alec Wyton, Dr. Roberta Gary, Dr. Tom Trenny, Diane Belcher and Dr. Gerre Hancock.
As a duo, Ramsey and Walker played many outstanding pipe organs, including the historic organ at the Wesley’s Chapel in London. In the United States, they played the Hazel Wright Organ at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.; the largest church pipe organ in the world at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles; and the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world at Balboa Park in San Diego. Both have performed in Europe and Canada, and have played some of the largest pipe organs in the world.
"Sometimes, due to living some distance away from each other, we would prepare our parts separately and when we got together, we would find we had been working in the same direction — it is that way with identical twins," said Ramsey.
The twins have performed in the southeast at Spivey Hall, Berry College, Reinhardt College, the Georgia Dome, the Townsend Center at the University of West Georgia and Emerson Hall of Emory University. They have appeared as soloists with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the DeKalb Symphony, and in concert for the Atlanta Music Club, the Southern Arts Federation, and the Georgia Council for the Arts, as well as other arts associations throughout Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Their recent achievements include postgraduate study at Valparaiso University in Indiana and certification from the American Guild of Organists as both Colleagues and Associates. Earning these titles involved passing stringent examinations in history, composition and theory. They are the only set of twins in the United States to complete the requirements for the degree on the same day.
"We grew musically," said Ramsey. "If I got discouraged, Alice would say, ‘God is going to help us do this.’ Or, she might get tired and discouraged, and I would say, ‘Alice, I know we’ve got to keep on and we can do this with God’s help.’"
Their upcoming schedule of events includes a concert with the Newton County Arts Association on January 31, 2010, and they will be featured in 2011 at Defuniak Springs at the historic Saint Agatha’s Episcopal Church.
"In planning our classical programs, we always try to add a hymn," said Ramsey. "Of late, we have also been researching and including classical repertoires by women composers, such as, the late Cécile Louise Stéphanie Chaminade, Amy Marcy Cheney Beach and Paula Szalit."
One of their greatest loves over the past 38 years has been the opportunity to play for the Salem Camp Meeting, scheduled for July 10 through 17.
"We are constantly amazed at how the Lord has led our thinking together for the music and the pastor’s message to connect," said Ramsey. "It comes together in a beautiful way and you can feel the Lord’s presence. Coming from the mountain top experience, we leave bubbling over with the joy of the Lord. That is our challenge — to bring it back and live it out."