Gerre Hancock (1934-2012)
In the next days and weeks, the music world will be full of tributes and remembrances of Gerre Hancock, the longest-serving organist and choirmaster at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City (1971-2004). During those years Dr. Hancock came to be especially known as a master improviser and teacher of improvisation. After his retirement from St. Thomas, he and his wife Judith headed the sacred music program at the University of Texas in Austin, where he died in hospital on Saturday surrounded by family.
This picture was taken a conference that I attended last summer, and I am posting it not to flaunt my relationship with him (indeed, I only really met him on this one occasion), but as an illustration of how gracious he was with those who sought to learn from him. I found him to be incredibly generous with his time, and was wonderfully indulgent of my peppering with questions about “the old days” at St. Thomas.
His ashes will be buried under the chancel of the St. Thomas church where he stood for so many years leading the choir. Read the Rector of St. Thomas’s announcement of his death here.