Today is the Solemn Requiem for Gerre Hancock, formerly organist and choirmaster of St. Thomas Church in New York City for over thirty years. One tribute said, “He was one of the greatest church musicians of our time and inspired generations of musicians who worked with and admired him.” He was such a giant in the field of church music that his obituary was found in the New York Times, which you can find by clicking here.
When Carl Crosier and I were on the planning committee to host the Far West Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Hawaii in 1979, we invited Gerre to play the opening recital at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Part of his concert included improvisation, for which he was well-known. That was probably the first time we met him in person, but on our subsequent trips to New York and to St. Thomas, he always remembered us and greeted us. He was a dear friend to Dana Marsh, Edith Ho and McNeil Robinson, whom I’ve written about in previous posts.
I thought you readers would be interested in looking at the bulletin for his Solemn Requiem, which can be found by clicking here. It is an example of the best and finest church music and includes many of Gerre’s compositions, as well as the Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat, BWV 552 (St. Anne) by Bach, Chorale in A minor by César Franck, Nicolas de Grigny, and Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem as the Ordinary (! The service begins at 11 am, but the organ prelude begins at 9:45 am (!) The service is being streamed over the internet but will be posted at a later date on the St. Thomas website. We are listening to it now and I’m struck by the absolutely sublime choral singing as well as the massive, yet glorious congregational hymn singing.