Associate for Music and Liturgy,
Organist and Choirmaster
Hal is the eldest of five children and a native of Pennsylvania. His father’s side of the family was musical, so from an early age he was exposed to family sing-a-longs. It’s a miracle that those gatherings didn’t make him swear off music forever! He started studying piano when he was 8 and organ when he was 12. His piano teacher and first organ teacher were “originals”—the piano teacher charged $1 for a 45-minute lesson (for 10+ years!), and the organ teacher (organist at his home church) would accept no payment at all!
When he was in high school, he studied with another organ teacher in his home town, an alumnus of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. Because of the stories he heard, and because it had not only the largest organ department in the world but also one of the best choral programs anywhere, Hal became obsessed with attending that school. Although other music schools expressed interest, Westminster was the only place he applied. He earned two degrees there: Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance and Master of Music in Church Music. While at Westminster, he had the good fortune of being invited to serve as Assistant/Associate Organist to James Litton at Trinity Church, Princeton, which he did for 6 revelatory years. Having grown up in the Lutheran Church, he realized in short order that the Episcopal Church was his real “home.”
Over the course of more than 35 years in full-time church music ministry, Hal has had just two church jobs since his Princeton days. His first was a wonderful 9 years at Calvary Church, Williamsville, NY, and he began his long tenure at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in the fall of 1987. Hal has direct oversight of music for services, as well as concerts. Along with the Rector and other Associates, he helps coordinate all aspects of our worship liturgies.
Hal enjoys classical music in general and opera in particular. While a student in Princeton, he was just an hour from New York, so he made as many excursions as possible to the Metropolitan Opera House. One of the major joys in his life has been the artistry of the late, great opera diva, Dame Joan Sutherland. To say he’s obsessed with her singing and her mastery of vocal technique—even several years after her death—would be a gross understatement! He’s known far and wide to be a rabid gadget person: anything having to do with computers or gadgetry in general consumes far too much of his time! He’s also known to watch way too much mindless television and read ridiculously-low-brow novels.
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