Gerre Hancock remembered at memorial service


Thomas Allison

Members of the Miró Quartet Daniel Ching, left, and Joshua Gindele, middle, warm up backstage with acclaimed violinist William Fedkenheuer, right, before a memorial service held Tuesday for former professor of organ and sacred music, Gerre Hancock. Hancock, known for his skill at musical improvisation and compassionate nature, died last month at 77.

Sylvia Butanda

Family, friends and colleagues celebrated the life of a beloved UT organist with a memorial service on Tuesday that included performances of his renowned works.

Gerre Hancock, a former professor of organ and sacred music, died on Jan. 21 as a result of coronary artery disease. The Butler School of Music hosted the service, which featured musical performances and speeches. Hancock worked at the Butler School of Music for eight years and was also an artist, conductor and composer of organ music. Hancock’s wife, Judith Hancock, and family, colleagues, students and friends from the American Guild of Organists attended the memorial service.

The memorial featured performances by Butler School of Music string instrument instructors, chamber music and organ students and one of Hancock’s former students, guest organist Todd Wilson from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Wilson performed two pieces that Hancock composed in 1960 and 2002, “The Air” and “The Toccata.”

“Gerre Hancock brought so much energy and artistic accomplishment to the Butler School and made such a difference in the sacred music and organ programs in the eight years he was with us. He will be sorely missed, not only by his students but by the entire community,” said B. Glenn Chandler, director of the Butler School of Music.

Chandler said Hancock and his wife developed one of the strongest organ studios UT has had during a time when many organ programs were diminishing or disappearing nationally.

Professor of voice, Darlene Wiley, said Hancock’s goal was to preserve the organ and get organ music going again. Wiley said she also had the opportunity to work with Hancock and perform with him at public concerts, which she said was a very valuable experience.

“He had a marvelous, joyous personality and his musical genius powered above the rest of humanity,” Wiley said. “He had a once in a 100 years talent.”

Graduate music performance student Charles Ludwick said Hancock was a man who loved greatly in everything he did and it especially manifested in his concern and respect for those he taught.

“Like all good teachers, he had high expectations for his students and admired hard work,” Ludwick said. “His respect for his pupils and ideas was profound.”

Printed on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 as: Gerre Hancock remembered with memorial performance