Sharon L. Beckstead has been the Music Director at Leaside United Church in Toronto conducting the professional calibre volunteer Chancel Choir and young voiced Junior Choir since the fall of 1993. She is a Past President of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada having completed her six year term in 2004. In addition to her church duties she has taught piano and organ privately and is Manager, Member Services for the Canadian Snowbird Association. Sharon was born in Winnipeg, where she studied piano with Beth Cooil and organ with Conrad Grimes. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, she continued organ study at the University of Alberta with Hugh Bancroft. She attended the Westphalian Church Music School in West Germany for two summer sessions, studying organ with Arno Schoenstedt and conducting with Klaus Martin Zielger and has appeared in recitals and hymn festivals in Germany and across Canada and the USA.
Sharon also served as a member of the editorial committee for “Songs for a Gospel People” and is the editor of “All God’s Children Sing” (both from Wood Lake Books). She was active as a proof-reader and general moral support for “Voices United” and as proof-reader for the Anglican hymnbook “Common Praise”. As Music Editor from 1993 – 1998 of “Gathering-A Packet for Worship Planners,” (published by the United Church), she included a hymn festival in each issue.
A founding member of the United Church of Canada’s Association of Musicians (1988), she served as Alberta Conference representative until 1993. She continued on the advisory board as Vice-Co-Chair and Co-Chair until 2009. Sharon is a founding Fellow and Provost of the Honourable Company of Organists.
She was Music Director of Highlands United Church in Edmonton from 1976 to 1993 where she had three handbell choirs along with Junior and Senior Choirs.
She has also been active as a clinician presenting hymn-based workshops and choral reading sessions across Canada and the USA. Sharon continues contributing to the Hymn Society as reviewer of hymn based recording for the quarterly journal, “The Hymn”.