West Texas A&M honors Marjorie Urban with a special All-Steinway Designation
CANYON, TX – The first time Joan Urban ever heard her mother-in-law play the piano, it was a Steinway. Marjorie Urban would practice short passages of Bach, Chopin and Debussy at the family’s wheat farm in Perryton. That music coming from the heart of the Texas Panhandle lingered in Joan’s heart for many years to come.
“Listening to Marjorie play was an amazing experience,” Joan told fellow donors who gathered on a warm June night to celebrate the Marjorie Urban All-Steinway School Designation at West Texas A&M University. A generous gift from Joan and her husband Dr. Steve Urban helped fulfill a financial obligation that enabled the school to achieve All-Steinway status on June 29th, 2016.
The inventory of 84 Steinway & Sons pianos is one of the largest in the state. “This special designation is a major milestone in our eleven-year effort to give our students and faculty the finest pianos in the world,” said Dr. Robert Hansen, Director of the School of Music. “With gifts from our donors and institutional support, we have been able to join a list of the most prestigious music programs in the world. Now we look to the future by providing for the care and maintenance of these fine instruments.”
“Marjorie showed us how to live a good life serving others, using her talents, creating beauty... That is the greatest gift any of us can ever bestow.”
Piano playing, farming and caring for her children were constants in Marjorie’s all-too-brief life of 61 years. She grew up in the Dust Bowl with five siblings on another wheat farm just outside the town of Booker. After picking up an accordion at an early age, she quickly switched to piano. Marjorie majored in piano at Texas Woman’s University and emerged as an accomplished classically-trained pianist.
Always striving to improve, she routinely made a five-hour round trip to study with Dr. George Eason, known in West Texas circles as a challenging yet compassionate piano teacher. Early in her career, she finished second only to famed University of Texas pianist James Dick in a regional competition.
For more than 35 years, Marjorie was a fixture at the First Christian Church in Perryton, leading the congregation in praise from the organ and piano. Fighting a courageous battle against metastatic breast cancer, she played her final church service with astonishing fortitude, according to family members.
“But I would be giving you an inadequate impression if I only emphasized her brilliance as a musician and dedication to her art,” Joan said. “She practiced piano and yes, it was Steinway, but all the while she was practicing her way of life based on faith, hope and love. Marjorie showed us how to live a good life serving others, using her talents, creating beauty and loving... always loving. That is the greatest gift any of us can ever bestow.”