The music man

Rick Hallam

Photo By Carli Cutchin

Rick Hallam has been the worship director at Grace Community Church since 1993. A native Nevadan, Hallam says that his love of music kicked in at age 8 and translated itself into a career in music. Upon dedicating himself to a life of faith at the age of 27, Hallam was ready to hang up his musical hat, but he found a way to pursue his passion for music within the church. Hallam, a golf lover and longtime Dallas Cowboys fan, lives in Reno with his wife, Terri, and their two children, Trevor and Corrie. Grace Community Church’s Christmas concerts are scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 22 and 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 23.

What are your Christmas concerts all about?

I start in July. … The choir [begins] rehearsing in September, and they’ll rehearse once a week until December. I used to direct the choir up until two years ago, [when] one of my vocalists, who has experience in directing, [took over]. I’ll take six to 10 musicals, and she’ll go through them and say, “What do you think about this one?” I’ll listen to it to make sure it’s a good fit for who we are as a church. [It usually is], because she’s in tune with our philosophy and who we reach as a church.

What do the concerts consist of?

If you [go to the morning] program, then come back at night, you’d go, “This is a totally different thing.” [The morning one] is more traditional; [the evening one] is more contemporary. We can [accommodate] 400 people in our sanctuary at one time, and we anticipate 2,400 [coming to all the Christmas concerts]. We don’t sell tickets, but we give tickets out. Say you want to come to our first service on Sunday, [you] take a ticket that says [that]. It allows [us] to take the 2,400 people and even it out. If they go up to the counter and say, “I want tickets [to a certain service]” and [the tickets for that show] are gone, it encourages them to get another ticket. We tried it last year for the first time, and it worked very well.

What age groups are represented in the concert choir?

We will run the gamut from zero to 90.

How did you become a worship leader?

Well, that’s an interesting story. Got an hour? I’ve been playing guitar since I was 8 and, believe it or not, I got started watching the Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles came on. I went on this whole journey. I was involved in rock ‘n’ roll bands, and when I was 27, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I thought I wouldn’t play music again. If someone had said, “You’ll be doing this at 27,” I would have said, “You’re crazy.”

What’s your job all about?

Some people think I get paid to sit in my office, listen to music and play my guitar. That’s part of it, but not all of it. I’m also an elder here at the church. When I’m an elder, I take my music hat off and put my elder hat on. Elders are the leadership of the church.

What role does music play in your life?

Music is … I’ve been doing it my whole life. If music were ever taken away from me, it’d be like cutting my arms off. And to me, I feel that one of the most powerful things on Earth is to take the word of God and to put that to music.