Ken Hall’s musical roots run deep in the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff area. His grandmother played piano for silent movies in Charlevoix, MI before marrying and moving to Lake Bluff where she taught piano and often played organ on Sundays for the Union Church. Ken’s Mom was a music teacher in the Lake Bluff schools and also taught private voice lessons from her home.
Ken started playing the piano and writing his own music at a young age. He loved to compose melodies and fool his Grandpa into thinking a famous composer had written them. By age nine Ken began playing the clarinet and quickly became a young prodigy, winning scholarships to music camp from the Women’s Club. He was an unprecedented 13 years of age when he performed Weber’s Concerto for clarinet at Solo and Ensemble contest.
While attending Lake Forest High School, they wasted no time discovering Ken’s remarkable ability to play nearly any instrument he put his hands on. Ken played alto sax and flute in the jazz ensemble, oboe and bassoon in the Orchestra and wind Ensemble, and clarinet in the marching band. While attending summer music camp at Northwestern University, Ken took a class on jazz improvisation and quickly found that he was a natural. The next summer he attended the acclaimed Jamie Abersol jazz camp at Northern Illinois University playing alto sax and continuing his fascination with the jazz idiom.
As a multi-instrumentalist Ken’s biggest change came at the end of his junior year in high school. The talent show pit band (which Ken starred in playing flute and soprano sax) celebrated a great show by attending a concert by vibist Gary Burton and his band. Fascinated by the vibes Ken took them up and has never looked back. Eventually he sold his other instruments (his wife Chris still hasn’t forgiven him for selling his alto sax) to purchase amplifiers and microphones to use with his vibes. Ken graduated high school receiving the esteemed John Phillip’s Sousa award for outstanding musicianship.
Ken attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and received a bachelors degree in professional music. Having taken a course in basic piano tuning at Berklee, Ken further expanded his knowledge at The American Conservatory of music in Chicago and shortly after apprenticed for and was hired full time by Kurt Saphir Pianos in Wilmette. Five years later, with young kids at home and one of the parents needing to be home-based, the time was right for Ken to leave Kurt Saphir and go into business for himself. At the end of 2016 Ken retired from piano tuning to focus more on his original music.
Since graduating from Berklee, Ken has played with many groups including the John Moulder Ken Hall Duo, The Last Dance Band, Jazz Conceptions, The Lil' Cow Band, Damascus Road, The Message Ensemble, The Good On Sunday Band & the Hellhounds. Ken has also been an active church musician for over 25 years. Starting with bell choirs and moving to worship bands as a volunteer, eventually he was hired by St. James Lutheran Church to lead their worship band “Damascus Road”. His responsibilities included choosing music, arranging, conducting and composing. A job he was well suited for with his education from a college specializing in contemporary music. He even took some of the traditional liturgy and put modern music to it which is still used and cherished by many of the St. James parishioners today.
When “The Community Worship Hour” transitioned from Saturday nights to Sunday mornings and became “The Community Church” Ken was hired as the music director and a few years later dubbed “Minister of Music”. Traditionally a church budget is spent on having several salaried musicians on staff, but with Ken’s skills to handle a wide variety of duties there is no need. With Ken’s diverse musical background, and the many connections he has with outstanding musicians in the Chicago area and beyond, the church is able to hire some of the most amazing musicians in their field. This has translated directly into a diverse and unique music program unlike any other.
In his free time Ken uses his musical abilities to raise funds for his favorite charities, including KidsUganda, Playing for Change, Beef4Hunger and the C.O.O.L. food pantry. He also loves to sail and play disc golf, especially at his favorite spot in Northern Michigan where he and his wife, Chris, have a home. Ken also cherishes Sunday dinner with his wonderful family including son Scott and his wife Lauren, daughter Jen, Granddaughter Everly, Grandson Jax and the one and only yellow lab, Simba.