Gerre Hancock: A Retrospective

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Today on the Choral Mix, we honor the musical legacy of Dr. Gerre Hancock by showcasing some of the music he performed at St. Thomas Church in New York City. Hancock passed away on January 21, 2012 in Austin, Texas. He was a teacher, mentor, organist and one of America's foremost church musicians. His passing leaves a gaping hole within the choral and church music community. Few American church musicians can say they were not touched or inspired by his vast reach.

For over 30 years, Hancock built his reputation and musical legacy as Master of the Choristers at the St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. There, he created a powerhouse choral music program on a level to match the best Anglican programs from England. Based on the Anglican tradition, he incorporated musical innovations, bridging many genres.   

We celebrate "Uncle Gerre", the brilliant choir trainer, and organist - a teacher to many with a long and magnificent career.



arr. William L. Dawson/ A Cappella II/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Ezekiel Saw de Wheel


Noble/ A Cappella II/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Go to Dark Gesthsemane


Franck/ Most Sacred Banquet/St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Psalm 150


Rorem/ Praise The Lord/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Two of Three Motets


O Deus, ego amo te

Thee, God


Susa/ Praise The Lord/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock


Nunc dimittis


Bairstow/ The Choral Music of Edward Bairstow/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Lord Thou hast been our Refuge


Friedell/ Praise The Lord/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Draw us in the Spirit’s Tether


arr. Hancock/ A Cappella II/ St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Gerre Hancock

Deep River

Comments [9]

Nancy de Flon from Metro NY

When I sang in the St. Agnes Cathedral Chorale on Long Island we often performed a "Christus Vincit" composed by Joseph Noyon and arranged by Gerre Hancock. A really splendid piece for the Easter Season. He leaves an amazing legacy. Thanks to Kent Tritle (a worthy successor if ever there was one) for presenting this thoughtful retrospective.

Feb. 11 2012 07:27 PM
Alan Chambers from South Amboy, NJ

There is just no end of things about Gerre Hancock that are so memorable. But, as a virtuoso organist, one thing, in the organ literature, stands out: he was one of the world's two most notable champions of a single landmark of organ literature, the Opus 46 Fantasia and Fugue on B-A-C-H by Max Reger. (The other is the German, Rosalinde Haas). Maybe few are brave enough to take on the technical challenges the piece presents, and perhaps the power and splendor of this work is too little appreciated. Which of today's organists is willing and able to take up the challenge, and carry the torch that Gerre Hancock laid down?

Feb. 06 2012 02:30 PM
Gregory Solovieff from Littleton,NC

Wonderful to hear this great tribute to Dr. Hancock,and the music he (and Mrs. Hancock) made with the organs and choir at St.Thomas Church.Wonderful to know the church's ministry was magnified through this phenomenal music.I wonder if there is any comparable record of the work of William Self,Dr. Hancock's predecessor at St. Thomas,who I personally know had magnificent choirs there and performed many great works with and without choir.

Feb. 06 2012 02:23 PM
Robert Russell from NYC

Today's program dedicated to Gerre Hancock, following the Requiem at St. Thomas’ Church yesterday, made the weekend a wonderful tribute to one of the most remarkable musicians of our age. With his unsurpassed talent and ability combined with his dedication to his ministry, it is doubtful that we will ever see such a person again. And we cannot forget his wife, Judith, who made them a true “dynamic duo.” Nothing could be a more appropriate finale than Gerre’s arrangement of “Deep River,” which, I believe, he arranged for the choir’s first tour abroad to England in 1980.

Feb. 05 2012 08:19 PM
fred sweda from Santa Monica, Ca.

Thanks! As beautful as the music heard on this program, there's nothing like the "experience' of live performance.

Enough said, and his passing, leaves me and others with sadness and joy for all his contributions.

Feb. 05 2012 01:08 PM
Suzy Doob from Forest Hills, NY

Thanks, Kent, for the perfect rendition of Deep River. Just sang it -- hopefully not for the last time -- Friday evening at our performance of A Child of Our Time (Tippet). What a thrill to hear it again, this morning. :-)

Feb. 05 2012 08:06 AM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan NYC

Thanks for this wonderful program. I didn't catch the name of the penultimate chorus, but it was absolutely beautiful. And the last one (I think it was a variation on Deep River) was wonderful. An excellent tribute.

Feb. 05 2012 08:01 AM
Michael Meltzer

In spite of Gerre Hancock’s prodigious multifaceted and publicly marketable talents, he seemed to view his profession as a ministry, above all else. Nevertheless, he was quite sympathetic to the underexposure of his many talented colleagues, particularly the younger ones, and put in place a noontime organ recital series at St. Thomas that became quite famous. Organists came from quite a distance to play there, for some it was probably a New York debut.

Feb. 05 2012 07:55 AM
Guy St. Clair from New York

Thanks for the beautiful tribute to Gerre Hancock. Like many others, I posted some of my own thoughts at my personal blog ( but I have to say your tribute is so good. Really appreciate this good work. You've given this Sunday morning a real lift!

Feb. 05 2012 07:31 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.