Susan B. Hale loves organ music, but she understands why some people might shy away from a concert consisting of only that one instrument.
“The organ creates very heavy music, and I know a lot of people don’t enjoy sitting through an hour of that type of music non-stop,” said Hale. “I’ve gone to many organ concerts so I understand.”
As a result, when “He’s Coming Back,” a religiously based concert using some of Hale’s own compositions, begins at 8 Friday night at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, Hale will be there with her organ, and plenty of other musical options.
“Even when I was in college, I worked on developing musical pieces that used a combination of instruments,” she said.
“For this concert, we’re going to have a fusion of classical and gospel music using voices and other instruments.”
Members of the First Reformed Church choir will be joined by choir members of the Mt. Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, the Duryee Memorial AME Zion Church and the Friendship Baptist Church to provide vocals along with tenor Timothy J. Dunn. A small orchestra will join in the musical offerings, which will be conducted by Adam Paul Fine.
Along with her musical talents, Hale is also a painter and approximately 10 of her paintings will be on display in the First Reformed’s Dirk Romeyn Room.
A 1979 graduate of Scotia-Glenville High School, Hale went to Wheaton College in Illinois and studied classical organ performance. She started work on a master’s degree at Juilliard but didn’t complete it, suddenly feeling another artistic talent coming to the fore.
Music and art
“I started playing the piano when I was 4, but I’ve also been painting all my life,” she said.
“As a little girl I would sit and watch a neighbor of mine who was an artist, and she would give me some paper and I would paint. After being heavily involved in music for a long time, I started my master’s at Juilliard but didn’t finish because I wanted to do more artwork.”
Hale enjoys painting landscapes and florals.
“I am not a portrait artist,” she said. “Painting landscapes and florals is a great way to express myself, and usually I paint with oils. It’s the messiest, but oils also give you a lot of freedom. I paint a lot of landscapes because I love nature. It’s nature that really inspires me.”
She is looking for more opportunities to display her art. In July of 2013 she had 25 paintings on display at the Pettaquamscott Historical Society in South Kingstown, R.I. The building was originally the summer home of Edward Everett Hale Sr., her great-great-grandfather.
He was a popular Unitarian minister who lived from 1822-1909 and was well-known as the author of “The Man Without a Country.”
As her heritage might suggest, Hale has a keen interest in history.
“He became chaplain of the U.S. Senate in 1903 and they asked him if he prayed for the senators,” said Hale, relating a story about her ancestor. “He said no, he looked at the senators and prayed for his country.”
His son, Edward Everett Hale Jr., was a long-time Union College professor who ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1912 as a member of the Progressive Party in Schenectady and lost. Hale died in 1932 and has a building, Hale House, named after him on the Union College campus.
Further back is an uncle, Nathan Hale, the famous Revolutionary War spy who was executed by the British.
“His older brother, Enoch, was my great-great-great-great-great grandfather,” said Hale. “Nathan was only 21 when he died and never had a family. My parents were never really that interested, but I find my family history fascinating.”
Also in that history are plenty of people with artistic talent. One uncle was Philip Leslie Hale, a painter who worked alongside Monet in 19th century France, and Robert Beverly Hale, a curator of American paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1948-1966.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.