Organist moving to the next level

EVERETT — Music committee chairman Tim Hisey met Halden Toy when he applied to become the choir organist for the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

He was the youngest candidate that day and Hisey was skeptical of the 19-year-old Toy.

When Toy played, the organ “completely sung on the first note,” he said.

“I was pretty much convinced he was the one I wanted to hire,” Hisey said.

That was about nine months ago. Since then, Toy, who is from Marysville, played the organ at the weekly service and other local churches in the Puget Sound area.

On April 14, Toy played a solo pipe organ concert for about 200 people at the church, located at 2531 Hoyt Ave. That’s about double the amount of people Toy usually plays for at the church.

It was a special occasion because it was his last concert.

Toy moved to Idaho this week to attend Brigham Young University-Idaho. Toy has enrolled to study organ performance and prepare for auditions. Toy hopes to become a professional organ player and a teacher.

The last concert was bittersweet because he enjoyed playing for the congregation, but he is happy for the future.

“There is excitement for the new venture,” Toy said.

Toy has been playing the organ for nine years even though his parents wanted him to play the piano. His two older brothers started that way and they then switched to guitar. Toy was drawn to the organ when he saw his grandfather play.

“The organ has more combinations of notes than the piano can produce,” Toy said.

His parents thought he would lose interest, but Toy kept practicing every time he could at his home in Marysville or at a methodist church in Everett where his father played.

At 15, he started performing for other congregations and even organizations as the local guild of organists. One year later, he knew he wanted to play as a way to earn a living. “I know it’s a dying thing, but I want to try and keep it going as far as I can,” Toy said.

Toy prefers to play classical and gospel music. His favorite composer is Bach.

“He was the kind of musician that demonstrated that with hard work, anyone can do anything,” Toy said. “I am trying to emulate that attitude.”

Hisey describes Toy as having the best combination of professionalism and enthusiasm.

Toy has a love of all kinds of music and he likes to try new things, which are his biggest strengths, he said.

“You get a lot of organists that play the organ, and that’s what they do,” Hisey said. “Halden enjoys listening the congregation sing. He will bring the volume of the organ down to hear the congregation sing.”

Toy brought youth, vigor and love of music to the church, Pastor Fred Zoeller said. “He injected a jolt of joy into our worship and the church life,” Zoeller said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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