About a week ago, I got an email from Jason Anderson, about whom I’ve written posts as he is Peter Hallock’s successor as the director of the Compline Choir in Seattle. You may also remember that Jason was Peter’s biographer and wrote his doctoral dissertation on The Life and Works of Peter R. Hallock (b. 1924) at the University of Washington. You might want to go back and read my post: Jason Anderson, Compline Choir Director.
I’m not sure why Jason was asking the questions, but as I read them aloud to Carl Crosier and I typed his answers for him, I thought my readers would be interested in the relationship between Carl and Peter, and our company, Ionian Arts, Inc. As it turns out, the interview has been submitted to the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians for publication.
A virtual interview with Carl Crosier
Questions submitted via email to Carl Crosier (C) from Jason Anderson (J) on August 16, 2014; answers dictated by Carl Crosier to Katherine Crosier on August 20, 2014.
J: What was the first piece by Peter Hallock you heard? What were your impressions?
C: I think the first piece I heard was probably Behold a Mighty Prophet, at Advent procession at St. Mark’s Cathedral when I was going to college [at the University of Washington]. It was like nothing I had heard before, especially the use of handbells in procession and the style of the music was so distinctive, yet very engaging.
J: When did you first meet Peter in person?
C: I had already written to him to have him send me some music. I happened to be in Seattle in the summertime, and I went to St. Mark’s, and we met. This was the beginning of our long friendship and collaboration.
J: What was the catalyst for forming IONIAN ARTS with Peter?
C: It was really Peter’s idea, when he got his royalty checks from Walton and GIA, he thought we could do a lot better than that! The standard composer royalty is 10%, and he thought if these checks represent 10%, the lion’s share of 90% was going to someone else! As to the name of the company, we joked that it should be called CROCK (a combination of Crosier and Hallock) or C & H (like the sugar company), but it was Peter’s idea to name it Ionian Arts after the island of Iona.
J: Talk about the Ionian Psalter and its importance in the development of the company and its importance to the Church.
C: The Ionian Psalter was going to be the body of music around which we would build the company. We were just not going to publish miscellaneous pieces — we were going to publish the Psalter and other pieces could follow. Kathy took the Episcopal Church Annual and for every parish over 500 members, developed a mailing list. We then sent out a sampler of the Psalter to about 1000 churches, and 200 responded with orders! Because the Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Book of Worship shared the same psalter texts, we would put it out for both lectionaries. We then went to AAM and ALCM conferences (1986) and did a land-office business! After many years of printing, collating, and mailing the psalter in six-month increments, we scanned and transferred the project to CD-ROM. To date, we have sold over 1,000 copies of the Ionian Psalter, and it has gone beyond the Episcopalians and the Lutherans — to Presbyterian, Mennonite, UCC, Nazarene, Roman Catholic, and Methodist churches. We think that it is the most widely-used choral psalter today.
J: Reflect on your friendship with Peter. What events or milestones are at the forefront? What disagreements might you have had with him and how did you handle those disagreements?
C: Certainly it was a milestone to bring the Seattle Compline Choir to Hawaii in 1979 for the Region IX American Guild of Organists convention. At the conference, Peter gave a lecture, a countertenor recital with Gregg Carder and Ken Peterson, and conducted two Complines—one at St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the other a joint one with the Honolulu Compline Choir at Kawaiaha’o Church.
I was invited to come along on the two Compline Choir tours to Russia/Scandinavia and England. Whenever I came to the Seattle area, I frequently stayed with Peter and sang with the Compline Choir. I visited Seattle at least two to three times per year from 1975 on — nearly forty years.
There was a big 75th birthday celebration for Peter at Bob and June Barnes’ house which we attended and had a great time. We celebrated Peter’s 80th birthday in Honolulu with a special concert featuring his music. I understand that he was weeping throughout. We also brought Peter to Hawaii for the ACDA Regional Convention (1992) at which the LCH Choir sang an all-Hallock program, including The Last Judgment.
And of course, for Peter’s 85th birthday, we catered a special dinner in Fall City, which you attended. For that we sent about eight boxes of dinner/party materials including pots, pans, utensils, dishes, silverware, stemware, tablecloths, napkins, a case of pineapples, and a case of papayas.
As for disagreements, we had a few — basically over revisions which I thought were perfectly fine. We also spent a lot of the company’s money on recording projects which were then never used. But basically, we just let Peter have his way.
J: Friends came and went in the course of Peter’s life. Your friendship with Peter remained strong for forty years. How?
C: We were in constant communication and working on projects together. We always had a lot of fun doing the projects and never thought of them as burdens. In the early days, we wrote letters back and forth (snail mail), then faxed each other at least once a week when that technology came out. Peter was used to an IBM-PC type of computer at St. Mark’s, but when we started the company, we got Peter hooked on using Macs.
J: Reflect on your time as Cantor at LCH. What role/influence did Peter and his music have there?
C: From the very beginning, I remembered my visits to St. Mark’s for liturgies and special services. When I took on the job at LCH, I contacted Peter for resource materials which Peter was very happy to share. At first, many of the manuscripts were marginally legible, so I re-did them in my neat handwriting and sent them back to Peter. From the mid-80s on, we used music software to do this. Our first four publications, though, were engraved in Korea. Outside of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, LCH probably has the largest Hallock library anywhere, including the Psalter, anthems, motets, Compline choir pieces, large works, etc.
J: Are there hallmark pieces by Peter that stand out for you? Why?
C: The three Advent Processionals (Behold a Mighty Prophet, From Lands That See the Sun Arise, and I Saw a New Heaven) stand out because they are so stunning and engaging. At LCH we rotated them on a three-year cycle. Functionally and musically, they are stunning.
The two Good Friday processionals (Wash Me Through and Through and Turn Us Again, O God of Hosts) were used over and over at LCH, again for their functionality as well as for their beauty.
The Last Judgment is one of Peter’s best pieces, and he finished it shortly after his father died. Kathy thought that it was because of his grief that it was such a meaningful piece, but Peter said, “Oh no, I hated my father!”
Centennial Te Deum and Song of Moses were also done several times in Honolulu and always met with very positive response from the congregation.
Other memorable works are the five-cello pieces: The Dawning and Jubilemus Omnes and To the Supreme Being—and the perennial favorite: There Is a Stream.
J: Talk about some of the musicians you’ve worked with on concerts featuring Hallock’s music. Who stands out?
C: I think of Vernon Nicodemus and David Newman for basses. In Honolulu, the harpist we used was Connie Uejio and Karen Bechtel, cellist, and these two ladies became very acquainted with Peter’s music, sometimes performing them under his direction. Scott Janusch, Brian Greene, and Ann Lillya (oboeists) played To the Supreme Being numerous times.
J: Can you recount your conversations with Peter about both his retirement from the cathedral and also from Compline? What was his mood? How was he processing those events?
C: His retirement at the Cathedral was basically forced and he was fed up with Fred Northup. He was somewhat angry yet resolute when the time came. It did take him a long time to process this decision, with all kinds of emotional layers: anger, grief, frustration, etc.
His car accident [in June 2009] was the wake-up call on the retirement from Compline and he acted quickly to make the change. He actually had been considering retiring from Compline for a long time, but the accident forced his hand.
On my retirement, he thought that it was highly unusual that it was my decision rather than the pastor’s or the church council’s.
J: Reflect on the Hallock 85th Celebration weekend in 2009—the dinner at Chez Hallock, the concert, and first “Alumni Compline”.
C: It was a total success all the way around, and Peter was deeply touched.
Carl Crosier was cantor and director of music at Lutheran Church of Honolulu (LCH) for 38 years, retiring in 2011. He founded, with Peter Hallock’s blessing, the LCH Compline Choir in 1976. He and Katherine, his wife of 37 years, together with Peter Hallock, founded IONIAN ARTS, Inc., publishers of Hallock’s Ionian Psalter and many compositions by both Hallock and Crosier. Kathy Crosier maintains a marvelous blog at http://insanity.blogs.lchwelcome.org/. Carl was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early 2014 and is currently receiving home hospice care.