How they met: Couple still in tune after 30 years marriage

Craig and Mary Bircher


Couples know that staying in tune with each other is important.

Craig and Mary Bircher understand that better than most.

Both are longtime members of the Omaha Symphony, and met at the perfect place: a rehearsal.

In fall 1981, both were new members of the symphony, and were rehearsing in the ballroom of the Scoular Building near downtown.

Mary plays the harp and Craig the trumpet, and for that rehearsal Mary was set up near the brass section.

The principal trumpet player introduced himself to Mary, and then introduced Craig.

The meeting was brief, just a quick hello. Mary thought Craig was quite cute, and he thought she was pretty and cheerful. Both were intrigued.

At the next few rehearsals, Mary would look over at Craig. She thought he played with passion.

They started spending time together, meeting for a drink or taking a walk in Fontenelle Forest.

In spring 1982, the tempo of their relationship picked up.

They attended an Opera Omaha performance of Mozart's “The Magic Flute,” and held hands throughout.

The two musicians began thinking their relationship had real potential.

But soon they would be living in different cities. Craig was with the symphony to fill a one-year temporary vacancy, and needed to find another position.

He found work in New York City, playing music festivals and chamber music. He got a chance to attend Broadway musicals, and experience the arts and culture of New York. But he missed Mary.

She was still in Omaha, performing with the symphony, and could hardly stop thinking about Craig.

Through visits and phone calls, they kept their relationship alive.

On June 11, 1983, they married in the chapel of a Colorado mountain village. Musician friends provided beautiful music with harps, trumpets and bassoon.

About a month after they married, Craig rejoined the Omaha Symphony and is now associate principal trumpet player. Mary is principal harpist.

This summer they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, and have two children in college. Both kids play violin.

Mary and Craig perform together as a harp-trumpet duo for weddings, receptions and other events.

Harp and trumpet aren't traditionally paired because a harp is so soft and a trumpet so loud. But Mary and Craig make it work. He plays a little lighter, and she has always played with a strong sound.

They love playing together, just the two of them, in what Craig says feels like a dance.

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