Carol Hallenbeck, the well-known Organist/Choirmaster of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, is set to retire — again.
She has been organist/choirmaster at St. Peter’s for nearly 40 years, from 1975-2012, and from 2015 to the present. She is a graduate of Denison University (cum laude, majoring in organ performance, 1961) and The School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City (Master of Sacred Music, 1963).
Since moving to Delaware in 1969 with her husband, Jan Hallenbeck, a member of Ohio Weslyean University’s history department faculty for 30 years, she has been active in many music organizations in Delaware and Columbus, and a frequent performer in concerts and recitals.
She was music librarian at OWU’s Music Library in Sanborn Hall for 17 years.
Ms. Hallenbeck came out of retirement in 2015 to fill in at St. Peter’s as organist and choirmaster until a permanent replacement could be found, a task she thoroughly enjoyed.
“When I first began in 1975, there was no regular choir. We now number 18. This is no ordinary church choir,” she commented. “They rise to new heights every Sunday, it seems, and they have been a great source of support and friendship for me.”
It is called “benching” an organist when a new one arrives, so on June 11, St. Peter’s will “bench” Jeffrey Ward, a recent Delaware resident with a deep musical background.
Ward is a native of Pittsburgh, and received a degree in Music Education (major instrument: organ) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He was also certified in Special Education, and combined his skills as a music therapist for severely mentally and physically impaired children in a private residential school.
When the federal grant under which he was working lost funding, Jeff turned to a career as a Network Planner for GTE/Verizon until his retirement in 2015.
But during that time, the music never stopped. Since 1976, Mr. Ward has served as part-time Organist/Pianist/Director for several different church denominations.
His most recent and longest such commitment (23 years) was with a Lutheran congregation in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
He believes that the difficult challenge of planning, coordinating and implementing worship music in today’s multi-generational church is not a career choice, but rather “a calling to be joyously embraced.”
As a former music therapist, Mr. Ward has seen the unique ability of music to shape behavior. In the church environment, he recognizes the power of music to enrich the worship experience.
“As an experienced church musician, I know that music can invoke deep emotions that cannot be expressed in words. These emotions open a pathway to conviction, inspiration and motivation.”
Ward and his wife Cynthia live in Delaware. They have two daughters and three grandchildren. The three grandchildren live in Indonesia with mother Sarah and father Justin. Daughter Lizzie and her husband Jeff also reside in Delaware.
Information for this story provided by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Delaware.