Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Hi, I’m Jeff Walthall, a tenor in this wonderful organization! This August starts my 35th season as a singer (I started when I was 4…HA!)
My father was in the newspaper business, which is second only to the military for a nomadic lifestyle. I was the “new kid” in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 10th grades, in towns ranging from Massachusetts to Florida to Texas to Colorado. I guess that’s why, when I moved to Greeley in 1982 to work for the Tribune, even though I told myself it was 5 years at the most, I stuck around.
Although music has always been part of my life, singing didn’t come about until I was in college. I started taking piano lessons at 5, and kept that up for 11 years, the last 3 of which I also took organ lessons. When my family moved to Grand Junction, CO in 1974, we joined the newly formed Redlands United Methodist Church, and they needed an organist. So, from Dec. ’74 to Aug. of ’77, I was that organist, until departing for Hastings College in Nebraska in August of 1977 for my sophomore year.
At Hastings, I had every intention of continuing studying piano, but soon ran into the brick wall of scheduling practice time around music majors! They had priority, and I often found myself without a keyboard. So, Dr. Elmer Schock, Director of Choirs, (and later Minister of Music at 1st Congregational in Greeley) suggested I join choir. My response was, “I can’t sing.” He took me into his studio and proved me wrong, and thus singing became my musical passion, and I always had my instrument with me!
When I came to Greeley, I saw an ad for auditions for the Chorale, and decided that might be fun. I joined for the ’82-83 season, and stuck around for 3 years. In 1985 the Chorale was preparing for the first international tour, and I knew I couldn’t go, so I stupidly dropped out. Two years later, in the summer of ’87, the late Pat Bornemeier, a charter member of the Chorale, ran up to me after seeing me downtown and said, “You have to come back. We’re going to Australia!”
I rejoined that fall, and have been around ever since. I went to Australia, and also our tours in 1992, 1996, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017. It’s been my privilege to get to travel the world with these wonderful people, making beautiful music.
Upon my return in ’87, as I was on the advertising staff at the Tribune, Conductor Dr. Carl Gerbrandt asked if I could be the Chorale’s ad representative, just to simplify things. That very shortly grew into the position of Marketing Director, involving advertising, press releases, community relations, programs, program advertising, our website, social media, and pretty much anything else that can be loosely defined as “marketing”. So in addition to my 35th season as a singer, this fall also marks 32 years as Marketing Director.
But singing and marketing are not the only reasons I continue in the Chorale. It’s the people. This is a very special group, in that even though we only rehearse once a week, 9 months a year, we’re family, and are involved in each other’s lives. Like any family, we sometimes have “sibling squabbles”, but all in all, these are the people who have my back, and I theirs.
Other than a couple of friends from college whom I still see, my closest friends in the world are in this group. I can’t imagine my life without The Greeley Chorale!