A few weeks ago, we went into an art gallery at Aloha Tower Marketplace and I saw an especially striking and memorable painting. The artist depicted scenes in which real people are “shadowed” by important figures in their history. I remember one particular painting in which there is a young child with her teacher at the piano. There are “outlines” of the child’s mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so on behind the young girl, each figure increasingly becoming more faint. Then there are “outlines” of people behind the music teacher, her teacher, her teacher’s teacher and so on.
That painting came to my mind today as I was notified of the passing of Mr. Regnal Hall, my choir teacher from Burbank High School. I was the accompanist for four of the choirs while I was a student (unpaid labor!) but Mr. Hall’s classes and teaching made a huge impact on me. Not only did I learn to accompany choirs, but I learned so much about choral singing, proper breathing, and good choral literature . . . “the shape of a musical phrase.” He was the person who introduced me to Victoria’s “O magnum mysterium,” and other great works. Yes, I went to a public high school and we sang great choral music. I know Mr. Hall had a profound influence on many, many people and for myself, I cannot go into a choral rehearsal of any kind without knowing that I was a benefit of his tutelage.
When I was in college, Mr. Hall offered me an organist position at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Glendale, where he was the choir director, but circumstances did not allow for me to go through with it. I found out later that he left Burbank High School shortly after I graduated and had a new musical career with the Walt Disney company.
Mr. Hall died after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s, and was pre-deceased by his wife, Barbara, who died of Parkinson’s in 2007. About twenty years ago Carl and I were fortunate enough to be guests in their home for a brunch, and I was able to update him on my musical activities and introduce him to Carl. We gave him a CD of our “Ceremony of Carols” by Britten and he was especially complimentary of the LCH Choir’s singing, and our “being able to sing a musical line.”
I’m so glad I had this opportunity to convey my thanks to him for his tremendous help in starting my musical career.
Aloha, Mr. Hall. You made a difference in my life.