Mr. George A. Emblom, M. Mus.

Director of Chapel Music 
and Lecturer in Church Music

B. Mus (with distinction) St. Olaf College

M. Mus., University of Missouri at Kansas City-Conservatory of Music

George Emblom is from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Noble Prize in Literature. He began playing the organ for his home parish when he was thirteen years old and has been an active church musician for over 35 years. Thus, George brings a wealth of experience not only to the academy, but to parish life.

Mission Statement
"Music helps enable the heart of the human soul to connect with the heart of the Eternal. The experience and study of sacred music helps one develop a deepening philosophy of liturgical music that leads to a deeper relationship with God, both in private prayer and corporate worship. Engaging both the mind and the heart, liturgical music cultivates healing, awe, mystery, repentance, and transformation. Music is powerful, for it is yet another way to find God and be found by God, and thus it is an instrument to help repair the world."

Courses Taught
  • Schola Cantorum The preparation and presentation of choral literature and other ritual music provides one with a broader understanding of the history and practice of sacred music, as well as providing an opportunity to make music with others. The human voice is one to be treasured and nurtured, for it helps express what cannot be said in words. Those who sing pray twice. All voices and abilities are welcome.
  • Fundamentals of Worship A broad introduction to ritual music and hymnody of the Episcopal Church implementing selections from The Hymnal 1982, Voices Found, Wonder, Love and Praise, and Lift Every Voice and Sing. Understanding the contextual aspects of music, the human voice, and music as prayer, is vital for integrating appropriate ritual music in the context of liturgical worship.
  • Fundamentals of Music Music is a language that is represented by notes and symbols on paper. This course teaches basic musical reading skills and theoretical concepts of scale patterns, intervals, and beginning harmony. Sight-singing and rhythmic skills are developed by reading music from The Hymnal 1982 and other musical resources. 

  • Church Music and Liturgical Singing In the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church, it states: “It shall be the duty of every Member of the Clergy (Minister) to see that music is used as an offering for the glory of God and as a help to the people in their worship in accordance with The Book of Common Prayer and as authorized by the rubrics or by the General Convention of this Church. To this end the Member of the Clergy (minister) shall have final authority in the administration of matters pertaining to music. In fulfilling this responsibility the (Member of the Clergy) Minister shall seek assistance from persons skilled in music. Together they shall see that music appropriate to the context in which it is used--Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church, Title 2, Canon 6, Section 1” This course is designed for future leaders of the Episcopal Church to exercise and develop musical leadership and theological understanding through the gift of music, as well as developing guiding philosophies for the implementation of music in parishes and other contexts.

  • A History of Church Music A survey course from Biblical times to the present.
In Class
  • George has served as the Director of Music at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley since 1992. He directs a thriving adult choral program of over 50 members and most recently leading the choir’s third tour to England serving in weekly residencies in Salisbury and Truro Cathedrals.
  • In addition, he has serves as organist/choir director of Temple Sinai, a position he has held since 1995. The two faith communities now come together yearly and make music together in their respective places of worship. As a testament to George’s passion for interfaith exchange, he recently offered a workshop to the Hymn Society of America entitled “Repairing the World through Shared Song.”
  • George is also and active member of the Association of Anglican Musicians, serving for many years on the Professional Concerns and on the board as a member-at-large, and now as treasurer. He currently serves as dean of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and he is also an organ instructor at UC-Berkeley. He also enjoys travelling, yoga, and good California wines.
Speaker's Bureau Topic

I have been engaged by parishes to talk with them about many topics in the field of church music. These include conversations about:

  • The search process for calling a new music director
  • Building for the future: Music that gives life and meaning to parish life
  • Selecting new instruments for worship
  • Broadening the musical language used in worship
  • The role of music in the liturgy
  • Clergy/Musician relationships
Favorites/Book Obsessions/Currently Reading

Books that George enjoys

  • Mitch Albom: Tuesdays with Morrie
  • James Begbie: Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music
  • James Hollis: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, REALLY Grow up
  • Madeline L’Engle: Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
  • Victoria Sirota: Preaching to the Choir
  • Barbara Brown Taylor: Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
  • Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose
  • The Jewish Prayerbook: Mishkan T’Filah: A Reform Siddur

Currently Reading

  • Mitch Albom: Have a Little Faith
  • John O”Donohue: Beauty

Music I love

  • The settings of the Psalms, sung to Anglican Chant, recorded by St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. John Scott, director.
  • The complete works of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Erik Satie as recorded by Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
  • The works of J.S. Bach as recorded by Glenn Gould.
  • The glorious settings of the Evening Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) for the Office of Evensong.

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