HALFVARSON, STEN (1915-2003)

Composer Sten G. Halfvarson (1915-2003) was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Swedish immigrant parents. His father worked as a mechanical engineer for Westinghouse Corporation brought the family to Chicago in 1929. Mr. Halfvarson attended Senn High School where his music education took root under the leadership of Noble Cain, a renowned composer-director who became his mentor.
As a high school baritone, Mr. Halfvarson was invited to sing in the Chicago A Cappella Choir directed by Cain. He sang with this choir from 1929 until 1936 in concerts, on radio and on tour. He attended North Park College for two years and completed his music degree at Northwestern University in 1939. He also earned a masters degree from Northwestern University in 1947. In the interim, he served his country in the United States Army Air Force as a B17 gunnery instructor from 1942-1945.
Mr. Halfvarson began his teaching career in Menominee, Michigan in 1937. He then taught at West Aurora High School from 1938 until 1979. At West, he developed the choral arts program into one of the most respected in the state, creating the A Cappella Choir and showcasing their talents in the community as well as in other district schools and venues.
He also was the author and creator of two legendary West High songs, "Roll-On" and the "West High Alma Mater." These two pieces stand as striking testimony to his loyalty and dedication to the school he served with distinction for nearly forty years. In addition to serving on the faculty of summer music camps in nine universities throughout the United States, he was a board member of the Illinois Music Education Association. In 1960, he formed the Aurora Festival Chorus which continued to perform major choral works for fifteen years. Mr. Halfvarson also was the director of music at New England Congregational Church where he was a member for forty-two years.