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April 28, 2014 by Jonathan DimmockPeter Hallock, composer, performer, mystic, philosopher, and church musician, died yesterday afternoon at the age of 89. He died peacefully within moments of returning to his beloved home in Fall City, Washington. He was my closest friend and mentor of 25 years. What follows is a letter to him as he rests beyond the grave.Hallock, baby!Well, you did it! You’ve merged with the Light and are now a part of that great numinousness that you’ve always tried to communicate through your music. What’s it like? Your astounding ability to communicate, through your music and through our countless conversations has awakened me to the profundity of that cosmic mystery; how glorious to think that you are now part of it. When I opened my eyes this morning, and the sun was pouring into my room, my very first thought was that you had enjoyed helping the sun up, out of its cradle, this morning – You, whose face always epitomized the radiance of the sun. When you left us, did you take one last cosmic journey over Mount Ranier – that place that you dearly loved? You always told me that you were a mountain man, and today I seem to understand that even more than before. And what about those sublime and fertile hills of the English countryside, and Canterbury Cathedral which formed you both musically and spiritually, did you take a farewell trip over those places to get one final blessing from that beauty? Or do I have it backwards? Perhaps it was you, yourself, blessing those places, that makes them so soul-enriching for the rest of us.Now that you’re on the other side, I find that I want to pummel you with questions: What are the secrets to gardening that perfect Japanese garden? Have you met Bach yet? You’re probably still in the “Welcome to heaven” stage, but I’ll bet you made a bee-line for John Donne. And you, who were the logical extension of French impressionistic music, must have been eagerly welcomed and thanked by Debussy, Ravel, and Duruflé. Am I right? But, knowing you as the introvert, I daresay you’ve opted to take your time with all of these things, and absorb the enormity of just where you are – right to the depths of your being.And just what is your “being” now? On the one hand, I clearly sense your presence, and on the other hand, I deeply lament your passing from my sight. I look out my window at redwood trees, the sunrise kissing the mountains in the distance, the lichen-covered, ancient oak-tree out the back window, and they all seem to speak your name. How did you do that?You know the old adage: You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. Happily the two of us did, indeed, know “what we’ve got.” Our friendship is, as we often commented, one of those rare gifts of grace. It’s one of those friendships that only come once in a lifetime, and that, only if you’re lucky. We were lucky! Thank heavens neither of us had hang-ups about being able to say how deeply we loved each other. Our mutual support of each other’s charisms has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. And although we were a generation apart, you were my Tom Sawyer, and I your Huck Finn.We are no longer a generation apart, you and me, for where you are, there is no time; and where you still meet me, in the splendor of nature, in numinous music, in my meditations, I can join you in timelessness. Yet, at this very moment, my heart is broken open in grief. I yearn to listen to the music of Tallis right now, to your psalm settings, to men singing plainsong.The older I get, the more I’m convinced that no two people can truly understand each other; the mystery of existence only moves in the direction of greater depth. Can we even understand ourselves? No, not on this plane. But how much gratitude I’m feeling that you helped me understand life, divinity, and beauty more than I possibly could have had I never met you. Blessed is the day we met!
Since Peter Hallock‘s death last Sunday, the tributes have been pouring in for this extraordinary church musician and mystic. Especially poignant and touching was the Office of Compline for April 27, 2014, which was sung at St. Mark’s Cathedral on the very night that Peter died. You can hear the podcast by clicking here. Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Peter. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Peter Hallock remembered: Seattle’s world renowned choral musician.From Dana Marsh, newly-appointed visiting faculty for Early Music at Indiana University: Peter was the great mentor of my teen years, during my last two years of high school. I owe him so very much. Heaven has been hugely augmented. A true visionary, mystic, musician, friend. He was a fantastic organ teacher; he understood French Classical music like few others. I remember going on hikes and having the most fantastic theological conversations. A prince of the very first order. I’m sorry only that I didn’t get to see him at the end. Rest in peace, my friend.From concert organist Jonathan Dimmock: He was my closest friend and mentor of 25 years. What follows is a letter to him as he rests beyond the grave. Hallock, baby!From Richard Sparks, who recorded many of Peter’s works: Peter Hallock dies.The official obituary has now been written by Jason Allen Anderson, Peter’s successor as Director of the Compline Choir since 2009. I am quoting it in its entirety here:scan0001-e1399217106699-102x150Peter R. Hallock—mystic, solitary, composer, organist, liturgist, and countertenor forever linked to Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle—died of congestive heart failure on Sunday afternoon, April 27, 2014. He had just returned to his beloved home in Fall City, Wash., after a lengthy hospitalization. He was 89.The youngest of five children, Peter was born on November 19, 1924 to George Oakley Hallock and Estella Rasmussen Hallock. Peter’s brother George and sister Peggy preceded him in death. He is survived by his sisters Matilda Ann Milbank of Los Altos, Calif., and Barbara Hallock of Kent, Wash., and several nieces and nephews and a growing number of grandnieces and grandnephews.PRH_Youth5At age five, Peter’s parents enrolled him in piano lessons, and sent him, along with his siblings, to Sunday School and worship at Saint James Episcopal Church in Kent, Wash. At the age of 9, Peter had his first encounter with the numinous at Saint James; five years later, Hallock was playing the organ there. His organ teacher at the time was Clayton Johnson of Tacoma, Wash. Peter’s sisters Tillie and Barbara would often trek to Saint James to hear Peter play miniature organ recitals on Sunday afternoons; whatever Hallock was doing, his sisters were always there. He was active and creative from an early age, not just in music, but also arts and crafts, weaving, letter writing, puppet theater, and soap box derby car racing.scan0003After high school, Peter enrolled at the University of Washington (UW), but was drafted into the U.S. Army after only one year of study. From June 1943–February 1946, he served as a chaplain’s assistant and sharpshooter in the Pacific theater during World War II. After the war, he re-enrolled at the UW and resumed organ performance studies with Walter Eichinger, composition with George McKay, and took music courses with Miriam Terry and Eva Heinitz, all of whom maintained a lifelong collegial relationship with Peter. Though Hallock had completed all required coursework by 1949, eighteen months of government-paid education remained, so Peter enrolled at the College of Saint Nicolas of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), then based in Canterbury, England. He became the first American Choral Scholar at Canterbury Cathedral, singing under the direction of Gerald Knight. In June 1951, he completed both the RSCM program and was graduated from the UW with a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. Later, in 1958, he took the Master of Arts in Music degree from the UW.Among his many contributions to local and national church music traditions are the introduction of countless audiences in the United States, and the Pacific Northwest in particular, to the countertenor voice, and founding the chant study group that eventually became known as the Compline Choir—an ensemble that has led to a resurgence of interest in the Office of Compline. He also fought successfully for installation of the Flentrop tracker-action organ at the cathedral, making Saint Mark’s the first Episcopal cathedral to have such an instrument. He developed the Advent and Good Friday Processions and introduced liturgical dramas at the cathedral. Perhaps his greatest contribution to church music was composition and publication of The Ionian Psalter.HallockatKimballPeter began work as organist/choirmaster at Saint Mark’s Cathedral on October 28, 1951, a position he held until his involuntary retirement in 1991. He was named Canon Precentor, the first layperson in the Episcopal Church to hold such a title; he received two Bishop’s Crosses from two Bishops of Olympia, was named an Associate of the Royal School of Church Music, and was granted a Doctor of Church Music degree honoris causa by Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In 1992, at the invitation of the Rev. Ralph Carskadden, Peter became organist at Saint Clement of Rome Episcopal Church, Seattle, a position he held until March 2013.Hallock composed over 250 works, from occasional church music to extended anthems, to dramatic works (sacred and secular), to music specifically written for the Compline Choir. To discover Hallock the mystic and composer, one need only experience his music in the “Holy Box” that is Saint Mark’s Cathedral. It is that “Holy Box” that provides both a physical space and musical landscape in which to hear, process, and intuit Hallock’s music. The texts Peter set provide vignettes of the metaphysical and mystical, from the poetry of Alcuin, to the words of the psalmist, to the poetry of Thomas Merton. Hallock married text and music in ways that allow listeners to experience something wholly unique, something beyond themselves, something numinous. Peter said it best: “Music is a conduit to the inner, spiritual person; and I think the road to God is internal.” No piece of music was immune to revision, even those already published. His most recent compositions include Advent Calendar (2012), commissioned by the Compass Rose Society to honor Archbishop Williams on the occasion of his retirement, and Victimae Paschali (2014), a work that was undergoing final revisions at the time of his death.PRH_Russia5The Ionian Psalter, Peter’s largest creative work, was born out of a desire for greater congregational participation in Psalm singing. Hallock began composing the Psalm settings on October 4, 1981 and continued through the entire three-year cycle of lectionary readings. Later, he expanded the Psalter and created a customized version for use by Lutheran congregations and those following the Revised Common Lectionary. The Psalter’s name is derived from Ionian Arts, Inc., the music publishing company founded in 1986 by Peter and his lifelong friend and business partner Carl Crosier.10-1-06 5657At Peter’s invitation, twelve men from the university and community began study of chant in 1955. This study group solidified into a choir that sang the Office of Compline on Sundays at 9:30 p.m. beginning in late 1956. Classical 98.1 KING-FM began broadcasting the service in 1962. Hallock once wrote of Compline: “The Compline service may find its best definition not in terms of what it is, but what it does, for the needs it fulfills for those who attend in person, the large radio audience, and members of the choir. For all of these it is part of a journey towards God. Such a journey must allow for definitions as varied as its sojourners with the promise of a goal as ‘wide as sky and sea.’” Peter directed the Compline Choir until his retirement in June 2009.As a soloist, Peter began to concertize as a countertenor in 1951, exposing audiences to that unique sound for the first time. The countertenor voice was so unusual in the U.S. that colleges and universities across the country soon requested performances—from the University of California, Berkeley, to the University of South Alabama. As a conductor, Peter’s most memorable conducting might be his first performance of Handel’s Messiah using period or replicas of period instruments in 1985. This period style performance was a first for Seattle; concerts sold out and critics raved.IMG_1187As an organist, Peter’s lasting legacy at the cathedral is the mechanical-action organ built by the Dutch firm D. A. Flentrop. Installation of the organ began in late 1964 and tonal finishing took place in July 1965. For the dedication, Peter composed Hail Universal Lord. Hallock believed installation of the Flentrop to be one of his greatest accomplishments: “I suppose the Flentrop might be my greatest accomplishment, provided we don’t blow ourselves off the earth, it’ll probably be there for a century or two.”PRH_SM1As a liturgist, Peter contributed something new to the Advent and Good Friday Processions held at the cathedral. He composed music for two choirs in dialogue (Cathedral and Compline Choirs), liturgical handbells from the firm Petit and Fritsen based in Aarle-Rixtel, Holland, and organ. Hallock’s ultimate metamorphosis of the Advent Procession was in crafting the liturgy around the seven ‘Great O Antiphons’ and the setting each of the antiphons to music, using all the pomp and drama he could muster. As a dramatist, Peter produced liturgical dramas at the Summer School of Church Music held at Saint Mark’s in 1965. Hallock was assisted by Ronald Arnatt (music director), Aurora Valentinetti (dramatic director), and Glenn White (sound engineer). This production team, minus Arnatt, collaborated on future productions in 1968, 1969, and 1975 for Hallock’s Everyman and 1970, 1971, and 1974 for his Days of Herod.PRH_patio_2013Hallock worked extensively within The Episcopal Church, having been appointed to the Joint Commission on Church Music in 1965; he also directed the choir for the 1967 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. His work with the Joint Commission on Church Music centered primarily on production of the 1973 Songs for Liturgy and More Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Embedded within Songs for Liturgy was the introduction of new, intriguing sounds, like handbells, percussion, and clapping and antiphonal congregational texts, into the worship space.Though Hallock’s music, creativity, innovations, and contributions to church music are notable, his greatest legacy is the community and family of musicians, mystics, solitaries, composers, weavers, theologians, humanists, agnostics, acousticians, “sound nuts”, chefs, gardeners, nature lovers, and lovers of beautiful things with whom Peter cultivated lifelong friendships. Whether meeting him in the office, organ loft, or his home, following his direction in a rehearsal or performance, sharing a martini over lunch or dinner, exchanging letters or emails, weaving with him at the loom, hiking or walking with him along a nature trail, digging in the dirt with him in his Japanese garden, or collaborating with him on a recording or video project, it was the friendship that mattered most.A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 5 p.m. at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, 1245 Tenth Ave E, Seattle. Contributions in Peter’s memory can be made to one of two 501(c)(3) designated charities; please note “Hallock Legacy” on your gift: The Compline Choir 1245 Tenth Ave E • Seattle, WA 98102 The Cathedral Foundation of the Diocese of Olympia 1551 Tenth Ave E • Seattle, WA 98102By Jason Allen Anderson, Peter Hallock’s Biographer, Friend, and Caregiverand second director of the Compline Choir (4 May 2014)
Strange Bedfellows -- Politics NewsNews about Seattle and King County government as well as national politics.Peter Hallock remembered: Seattle’s world-renowned choral musicianPosted on April 28, 2014 | By Joel Connelly Peter Hallock, a world-renowned church musician who made beautiful music in Seattle for 63 years, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Fall City. He was 89.cThe Compline Choir in rehearsal at St. Mark’s Cathedral. The ancient monastic service draws hundreds of young people on Sunday nights. Its founder, Dr. Peter Hallock, died on Sunday.As choir director at St. Mark’s Cathedral for 40 years, from 1951 to 1991, Hallock is best known as the musician who revived the ancient monastic rite of Compline, which became a Sunday night magnet for generations of Seattle-area young people.“What an amazing thing he created,” said Austin Rickel, a senior at Center School who did a video on Compline last year. “Here was a service that you could experience, a spiritual experience that you could appreciate even if you did not fully understand.“The experience is going to live on: One of the greatest things a person can do, what you should live for, is to create something that goes beyond yourself. As long as St. Mark’s is in existence, Compline will be in existence with a wealth of participation in something deeply spiritual.”James Savage, music director at St. James Cathedral, described Hallock as “a giant” and added: “For me, he was the one who made it possible for me to do what I do here. He saw a cathedral as a citizen of the community. He invited people to come for more than worship (services), for annual performances of the Messiah, for organ concerts, for times of grief and celebration.”Savage was a master’s degree student at the University of Oregon when, in 1974, he was invited to sing at St. Mark’s. “I had a job waiting for me somewhere else, but I fell in love with Seattle.”Hallock conducted the Compline Choir until 2003 when he was succeeded by Jason Anderson, who wrote his dissertation on Hallock’s music. Hallock believed, said Anderson, that “God could be experienced in beauty, in song, in the communal experience as well as the contemplative.”The Compline service at St. Mark’s, begun in the 1950′s, led to a rediscovery of the late-night monastic prayer tradition in the Episcopal and Anglican churches. Anderson estimates that, at one time or another, there have been 50 groups across North America modeled on the St. Mark’s Compline Choir. Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver has a Compline service.cThe Compline Service at St. Mark’s has been widely copied across North America.“He was instrumental in enabling St. Mark’s and the Pacific Northwest to make a critical contribution to sacred music generally, and to music in the Episcopal-Anglican tradition,” said the Rev. Steve Thomason, dean of the cathedral.Hallock thought big. He was the person who caused the Flentrop Organ — usually called “the mighty Flentrop” — to St. Mark’s in 1965. He authored a three-year cycle of psalm settings for choir, with antiphons for congregational singing, that is widely used in the Episcopal and Lutheran churches.Hallock was still composing at the time of his death. One of his last works, a setting of the Victimae Paschali, had its premier during Easter services at St. Mark’s in 2013.“On Easter, I am not not always thankful of having to listen to everything twice, but with this piece I was most thankful,” said the Rev. Greg Rickel (father of Austin), Episcopal bishop of Olympia.Bishop Rickel noted that Hallock stayed at the “Holy Box” on Capitol Hill for 40 years, conducted the Compline Choir for a half century . . . even as he won national and even international recognition.Hallock was honored across the pond by the Royal College of Music and was awarded an honorary degree from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He was the first lay musician in the Episcopal Church to be given the title of canon precentor.“There is nothing normal about that anyplace in the church,” said the bishop. “He gave his life to St. Mark’s. He brought so many, many people who had never crossed the doors of a church into a church.”It’s likely that not one of the hundreds of young people who fill St. Mark’s at 9:30 on Sunday nights knows what a “canon precentor” is. Yet, generations of college and high school students have come to witness one of Christianity’s most ancient rituals.Hours after his death, the Compline Choir processed to Hallock’s setting of the Easter canticle Pascha Nostrum (Christ our Passover) and remembered him simply at the beginning of the service. Arrangements for Hallock’s funeral service are pending.Peter Hallock made Compline happen, in Seattle and elsewhere. It is his living legacy.