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RIP Gerre Hancock


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I'm probably the first to see this on the board, and sometimes it pays not to say a lot.

 

Quite simply, we have just lost one of the greatest musicians, organists and improvisers of all time, and he will be sorely missed. RIP Gerry, and thank-you.

 

MM

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I stared at Holz's post dumbly for several seconds before its import sank in. This is truly shocking and dismaying news to organists, singers, and music lovers everywhere. Thank you Gerre for your blessings to us, and may they be returned now to comfort your family as we remember your life's work.

 

Justin

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Saw this earlier on the website of St. Thomas Church. I never heard him play but Choir & Organ ran an article a few years back which had a picture of Gerre & Judith Hancock in it. The website of St. Thomas, New York City carries an announcement on its news page:

 

http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/about/news

 

A great shame to loose such a well known musician. RIP.

 

Dave

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Indeed. A great man has passed from among us.

 

Gerre Hancock (who numbered Pierre Cochereau amongst his friends) was, in particular, a superb improviser.

 

Holz Gedeckt - thank you for posting the clip above.

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Just a quick story: I remember driving from college to Allentown, Pennsylvania one wintry evening to hear Gerre Hancock give a recital. Heavy snows in the Appalachian mountains almost forced me to turn around, but I realized it would be as difficult to head back as to press on. Since the recital was underway I wasn't permitted into the sanctuary, but an usher took pity and allowed me to tiptoe up a stairway to a gallery at the back of the church.

 

The second half of the recital was given over to a sonata in four parts, improvised on hymn themes which were handed to Mr. Hancock in a heavy envelope. The sonata started with a brilliant fanfare on the Trompette en Chamade, which I quickly discovered was a scant few feet above my head and angled slightly downward. I was feeling a little drowsy after warming up in the church, but that chamade shook the cobwebs from my head and parted my hair down the middle!

 

The improvisation itself was a revelation, as good as anything you'll hear in one of the finer Paris churches. Nearly twenty years on that concert and that brilliantly improvised sonata remain a cherished memory.

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