William Hall, DMA, outgoing founding dean of Musco Center for the Arts and former dean of the College of Performing Arts, has been awarded the rank of Professor Emeritus on the occasion of his retirement from Chapman University this year.

Catalyst for Growth

Smiling William hall with raised knit hat, sweater, and scarf while standing in a tour bus.

William Hall’s infectious enthusiasm on full  display while on tour with a Chapman choir.

Dr. Hall has been associated with the faculty at Chapman since 1963 and was instrumental in the transformation of the Department of Music to the School of Music, and later the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. In addition, he was the first distinguished professor to hold the Bertea Family Endowed Chair in Music. Dr. Hall was a highly successful teacher and inspiring mentor to generations of Chapman vocal performance and conducting students from 1963 to 2007.  A committed educator, Hall resolutely oversaw enormous growth in music student numbers and quality with his dedication to the student body, a rapier wit and signature charisma. Annual interterm tours in the Western United States and summer tours to Europe, Asia and Australia were a staple of the music program that he led with a strong hand.

Also under Dean Hall’s leadership, the School of Music eventually merged with the departments of dance, theatre and, initially, art, to become the College of Performing Arts. In his capacity as the inaugural dean of the new college, Dr. Hall oversaw the successful accreditations of the performing arts programs and the hiring and tenuring of many of the current faculty, and in 2003 the opening of Oliphant Hall, which is still part of the Conservatory building complex.

“It would be difficult to point to another individual in Chapman’s history who has had such a profound effect on both the academic program and advancement initiatives,” said Louise Thomas, DMA, associate dean for the College of Performing Arts.

Building a Legacy

Four people on a stage holding a large replica check for $25M from an anonymous donor with balloons in the foreground and musicians in the background.

Dean William Hall, second from right, was instrumental in securing backing from major donors for some of the college’s most noteworthy projects like Musco Center for the Arts.

When Hall joined Chapman in 1963, the college administration charged him with organizing a Christmas music program that would benefit the city of Orange. That inaugural Wassail performance occurred in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. To this day, Chapman’s annual Wassail celebration remains one of Orange County’s longest-standing and most beloved holiday traditions. For many decades, Hall also conducted Chapman’s annual revue showcase, now called Chapman Celebrates, which raises scholarship funds for the students. His engaging presence and personal charm garnered him many friends and ensured that the Chapman arts program flourished as a result of many generous donations over the years. Dr. Hall was also part of the leadership, planning, and fundraising committee efforts for Chapman’s new Musco Center for the Arts and was named founding dean in 2016 when it officially opened to the campus and community.

Cover of Newport Beach magazine featuring William Hall dressed in a tuxedo holding a glass of champagne under a crystal chandelier with a piano in the background.Outside of Chapman, Dr. Hall led the William Hall Chorale which performed under contract to Columbia Artists Management (the premier artists’ representative for touring ensembles) for more than 40 years, and sang throughout the U.S. and in international venues.

“Dr. Hall’s length of service is surpassed by a long list of achievements, both at Chapman and in the profession, that have decisively contributed to raise the visibility and reputation of the institution,” said Giulio Ongaro, dean of the College of Performing Arts.

“His work as a choral conductor is legendary. He has conducted at many major venues around the world with his William Hall Chorale—for many years a top choral ensemble in the U.S.— as well as with the Chapman University Singers,” Ongaro continued. “Many alumni of Chapman who sang in the choir with him over the years have related to me what a meaningful experience that was and how helpful it was to them professionally and in their attitude in life.”

Please join all of us at the College of Performing Arts and Chapman University in congratulating Dean William Hall for this well-deserved honor, and in wishing him a wonderful retirement.