Mark Thallander is a freelance organist, an organ editor for the Fred Bock Music Company, Adjunct Professor of Organ,(Glendale College), President of The Mark Thallander Foundation, a reviewer of new organ music for Creator magazine, a member of the executive committee of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and a member of the chapel organ committee at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Mark is probably best known for his long and distinguished ministry at The Crystal Cathedral, the largest congregation affiliated with the Reformed Church in America. He joined the staff in January 1976 as a music associate to Don G. Fontana and assisted Arvella Schuller with Hour of Power television scripting, service programming, and musical guests. Mark was Coordinator of Church Music Exploration, the national church music and worship conference held through the Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership. During Mark’s 18-year tenure at the church, he assisted with playing responsibilities for the many worship services, weddings, memorial services, seasonal concerts, and recording projects, as well as for the Glory of Christmas and the Glory of Easter pageants, and presented nearly 1,000 noon organ concerts for guests touring the Cathedral campus. While at the Cathedral, he had the opportunity to accompany many guest soloists including Sherill Milnes, Henrietta Davis, Norma Zimmer, Tom Netherton, Debby Boone, Carol Lawrence, Robert Goulet, and Kathie Lee Gifford. As Assistant Director of Music and Organist, Mark conducted The Cathedral Choir and The Summer Choir on many occasions when Frederick Swann was away on concert tours. Mark coordinated the 1,000 voices for the gala dedication of the Hazel Wright Organ (then the largest church pipe organ in the world), and participated in the 10th-anniversary celebration, performing several organ duets with Mr. Swann and playing the gallery organ for The Cathedral Choir’s presentation of Vierne’s Solemn Mass. For the 20th anniversary of the Hazel Wright Organ, Mark performed his own signature piece, Toccata on “Hymn to Joy” (available from the Fred Bock Music Company) and Widor’s Toccata from the Fifth Symphony. A “live” recording of the 20th-anniversary celebration organ concert is available from Crystal Cathedral Books and Gifts. Most recently, for the 50th-anniversary celebration of the congregation, Mr. Swann, and Mr. Thallander edited the Crystal Cathedral Golden Collection, fifty hymns for fifty years, published by the Fred Bock Music Company.
In the fall of 1993, Mark accepted the position of Associate Minister of Worship at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, the second largest church of the denomination in the nation, where he designed and played for five-weekend blended services of worship. In 1995, Mark was called by the Ministry Council to serve as Director of Music and Organist at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, the largest fellowship in the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. For 18 months, Mark also served as interim Associate Pastor of Worship at Lake Avenue Church, which included guiding many of the centennial events of the 100-days of celebration. The highlight was the Centennial Festival of Thanksgiving featuring combined choirs, organ, brass, and handbells numbering nearly 1,000 musicians. Under Mark’s leadership, the Creative Arts Academy, Friends of the Arts, Organ Concert Series, Tuesday-at-Noon Organ Interludes, and Pasadena’s annual Sing-along Messiah were established. He accompanied the 130-voice Sanctuary Choir in services and concerts, on tours, and at Ambassador Auditorium.
Following a horrific automobile accident in August of 2003, Mark has accepted speaking engagements in churches, schools, colleges, universities, and has been interviewed on radio and television programs, and also for newspapers, books, and national periodicals. More of his story may be read at www.markthallander.com. A book about Mark’s accident and recovery, Champions, written by the Reverend Gary DeVaul, has been a great source of inspiration to thousands of people. An expanded version of the book, Champions… Plus, was released in October 2007. Mark was honored to have been selected as the recipient of the 2004 Life’s Not Fair But God Is Good Award which is presented annually at The Crystal Cathedral.
Mark attended Central Bible College and Evangel University, Springfield, Missouri, and played for the weekly Revivaltime broadcast on the ABC radio network. He also attended Simpson University (now in Redding, California), and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in humanities from Vanguard University of Southern California, Costa Mesa, where he has held offices as both the President and the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association. At Vanguard University, a fully endowed organ scholarship has been established in his honor. He earned his Master of Arts degree in music at California State University, Long Beach, and he has taken additional graduate studies in sacred and choral music, organ, piano history and literature, and piano pedagogy at the University of Southern California. Mark’s organ professors have included Sandra Soderlund, Thomas Murray, Gerald Van Deventer, William Paul Stroud, Cherry Rhodes, and Ladd Thomas, plus summer study with Paul Manz at Westminster Choir College.
Mark has received invitations over the past decade to return as a guest organist for chapel services and alumni homecoming activities at his alma maters, Central Bible College, Evangel University and Vanguard University. He was selected as organist for the first Revivaltime reenactment radio and television broadcasts held in Washington, D.C. in 2003, and then again in 2005 Mark was chosen to perform at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, with the Revivaltime alumni choir.
Mark is listed in the 2006 60th Anniversary Diamond Edition of Who’s Who in America as well as the 2007 Who’s Who in American Education. Additionally, he is included in Outstanding Young Men in America. Mark has been honored by well-known composers Fred Bock, Michael Burkhardt, Charles Callahan, Pamela Decker, Joyce Jones, Jan Sanborn, and Richard Unfried, as they have composed musical works with dedications to him.
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