HOWLAND, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – William Dawson Hall passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 7, 2023, after battling Parkinson’s disease in his last years at his home in Howland, Ohio.
Bill was born on May 10, 1934, to Jesse Dawson Hall and Loula “Bany” Hall in Long Beach, California.
His parents and sister, Saundra Nye, predecease him.
He is survived by his children, Christopher (Tiffany) Hall and Erin (John) Ellis and grandchildren, Conner Ellis, Jessica Ellis, Rane Hall, Lily Hall and Jett Hall. His husband and partner of 39 years, David Masone and the entire Masone extended family, also grieves him greatly.
Bill Hall retired from Chapman University in August 2021, after a vibrant career that spanned nearly 60 years. His role as an artist, educator, mentor and leader helped transform the once-small college into the acclaimed university it is today. For countless people in Southern California, throughout the United States and abroad, Bill Hall represented the excellence of Chapman University and touched an astonishing number of lives. His legacy continues to reverberate through time and space as his legion of students perpetuate and amplify his passion for music.
Bill was a gifted musician from an early age. Piano studies began at age three, saxophone and clarinet followed but he discovered a passion for choral music in high school and began to publish choral works for major publishers soon after. At the young age of 21, he established his eponymous group, The William Hall Chorale and Orchestra. He was under contract to the William Morris Agency but soon began a three-decade relationship for his professional touring ensemble with Columbia Artists Management. His non-profit choir performed regularly throughout Southern California with subscription concert series in venues such as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Orange County Performing Arts Center and also with organizations including the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Boston Pops Orchestra, and others. He prepared choirs for such acclaimed maestros as Sir Simon Rattle, Zubin Mehta, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Robert Shaw, but William Hall’s passion and expertise was conducting the great choral/orchestral masterworks.
Bill Hall’s acclaimed recording of Britten’s “War Requiem” was professionally released just a few years after the composer’s own recording. Bill’s collaboration with Basil Lam on a highly ornamented edition of Handel’s Messiah is legendary. Two sold-out performances of Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” at The Crystal Cathedral was a testament to Bill’s ability to set a vision and marshal the necessary forces to create an exceptional musical experience for singers, instrumentalists, and audience members alike. His international tours included many European destinations, the former Soviet Union, China, Australia, and New Zealand. Groups under Bill’s baton performed for kings, presidents, and other dignitaries, including Pope John Paul II who invited Bill to conduct the Verdi Requiem for the opening of the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls in Rome. Bill and the Chapman Choir also performed in the massively popular film Sister Act II starring Whoopi Goldberg.
While studying at the University of Southern California for his Doctorate of Musical Arts, Bill began his career as professor of music at Chapman University in 1963. During his tenure, he greatly expanded student numbers and selectivity, and spearheaded numerous advancements including national accreditations for the programs under his leadership as dean. He was the founding dean of the School of Music, which later became the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music named in his honor. Bill also was the founding dean of the College of Performing Arts, which incorporated music, dance, and theatre. In 2011, he was named Founding Dean and Artistic Director of Musco Center for the Arts, which he led to its triumphant opening in 2016 — the fulfillment of his 50-year vision.
Bill’s fundraising prowess is perhaps as legendary as his musical accomplishments including leadership of capital campaigns for two music buildings (Bertea/ Oliphant Hall) and the magnificent Musco Center. His legacy of teaching and mentoring aspiring young musicians spans generations and continues to inspire musicians and arts lovers of all ages through his extensive discography, compositions, arrangements and the perpetuation of his joy of music-making in his legions of former students and colleagues.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Bill’s profound legacy of musical excellence with a generous donation to either: Chapman University-William Hall Legacy Endowment or the California Choral Directors Association-Dr. William Hall ECCO Scholarship. A private family memorial and scattering of ashes off the coast of Santa Catalina Island (the destination of countless adventures on his many beloved yachts over the years) is planned.
A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.
Arrangements by Cremation & Funeral Service by Gary S. Silvat, Inc. Share memories or send condolences by visiting cremateohio.com.
A television tribute will air Tuesday, October 10 at the following approximate times: 6:47 a.m. on WYTV, 9:43 a.m. on WKBN, 10:58 a.m. on FOX and 8:12 p.m. on MyYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.