St. Mark's Church welcomes new organist, choirmaster
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – As St. Mark’s School students prepare to return from summer vacation, the school’s Director of Music James Wallace prepares for his new role as organist and choirmaster at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He will start playing the organ for the church – which is affiliated with the school – Sunday, Sept. 7.
Wallace earned a bachelor’s degree in organ performance and church music from Pacific Lutheran University as well as a Master of Music degree in church music from Westminster Choir College. Additionally, he received an Advanced Studies Certificate in Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television from the University of Southern California. He was a graduate summer music education fellow at Northwestern University and has had compositions for worship published by Paraclete Press.
Wallace joined the staff at St. Mark’s School in 2013, replacing Thomas Berryman who served as music director for 30 years.
Wallace grew up in Wisconsin. He had his first church job at age 16, and worked continuously in church music for 32 years. In 2008, after seven years at St. Mark’s Church in Glendale, Calif., he retired from parish work and moved to Vermont to become music director at The Putney School. He has since worked at The Hill School in Pennsylvania and St. George’s School in Newport, R.I. This year will mark his 20th year working at a boarding school.
“I haven’s had a church position since I left California,” he shared, “but I’se always said that being a church musician is more something one is than something one does.”
While Wallace has been playing the organ for school chapel services at St. Mark’s School for the past year, he never attended a service at St. Mark’s Church prior to interviewing there.
St. Mark’s Rector Rev. Phil LaBelle is pleased to welcome Wallace to the church.
“He brings an extensive amount of experience as an organist and choirmaster in previous Episcopal parishes, in addition to his experience teaching music to students,” LaBelle said.? “James” playing of our historic organ shows the deep joy he experiences while making wonderful music, a quality we relished in as well. James will make a great addition to the staff of St. Mark’s.”
According to Wallace, the position at St. Mark’s Church is a great way to “get back in the saddle.”
“I feel that things have, in a very small way, come full circle,” Wallace said. “Originally St. Mark’s School and St. Mark’s Church were joined, and the rector of the church was the headmaster of the school. I look forward to working with the good people of St. Mark’s Church to build both traditional and contemporary music programs, and also hope that we can find opportunities for the school and church to do some things together in the future.”
Wallace lives on campus, right across the street from St. Mark’s Church on Main Street.
“I’s incredibly lucky to have two such fine positions so close to one another that my commute is never more than an eight-minute walk.”
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