Photo courtesy of sewanee.edu
By Simon Boes
With the recent conclusion of Dr. Robert Delcamp’s nearly four-decade-long tenure to the University, a new charismatic face charms The University of the South. Dr. Geoffrey Ward is the freshly appointed organist and choirmaster of All Saints’ Chapel.
Hailing from Canada, Ward studied at Mount Allison University and Arizona State, then later taught at Cashmere Elementary and then University of Kansas. When asked how his love of the organ began, he acknowledged, “I started in piano, but I received a key to the chapel at Mount Allison and had an inspirational watershed moment with this new opportunity.” Most recently, Ward has brought the Memphis Boychoir and Girlchoir ensembles to campus to sing with the University Choir for the past ten years, as he was the Organist Choir Master and Artistic Director at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Memphis.
Ward and his family live within walking distance from campus, with a morning commute similar to those who trek from Gorgas or Quintard. He has been immersed in the Sewanee traditions for a decade and is enthusiastic about being a part of the community. One of the main differences between Saint John’s and Sewanee is the ages of the students. Ward mentions, “When working with the Boychoir or Girlchoir, I would be dealing with both elementary students and their parents, now I’m working with people with much more independence and drive.”
When asked about any potential problems working with this demographic of students, Ward smiled and said, “We have something I call a good problem right now—20 incoming freshman into the University Choir.” With several seniors graduating last year, this is a welcome and substantial increase.
Ward’s reception on campus has been excellent. Anna Burklin (C’18) comments, “He is extremely nice and makes choir rehearsal, which can oftentimes be boring, actually fun. He cracks jokes but also guides us to take the music in a cool direction.” She goes on to say, “I think he’s just a really good fit for the choir and for Sewanee.”
Ward’s determination to integrate into the Sewanee community has been a complete success. Dr. Ward’s favorite part of his job is the role of All Saints as a community hub. “All Saints’ is unique because it brings students, faculty, community members, and more people together in its own form of outreach.” Anyone is free to visit him in All Saints’ Chapel, where he works.