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Renowned organist taught sacred music at UT
Born to a family of Southern Baptists in Lubbock, Gerre Hancock was playing the piano by the time he could walk. In time, he would become one of the foremost concert organists in the nation.Hancock, who was also a professor of organ and sacred music at the University of Texas, died Saturday of a heart attack at St. David's Medical Center. He was 77."Gerre Hancock was a legend in his own time. We are so fortunate to have had him on the faculty in the Butler School of Music for nearly nine years," said Glenn Chandler, director of the school.Hancock joined the faculty at UT, his alma mater, after 32 years as organist and master of choristers at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York, where he and his wife, Judith, built what was arguably the finest Anglican music program in the nation, Chandler said.Gerre Hancock performed over the years in many cities throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and South Africa, sometimes in duo recitals with his wife, a senior lecturer at UT.Hancock delighted in the pedal pushing, knob pulling and key pounding on an array of keyboards; all part and parcel of playing sacred music on the pipe organ. Sacred music is music composed for religious ceremonies."Not too loud, is it?" he asked an American-Statesman reporter during a demonstration in 2004. "Coordination is key, but so are earplugs."Hancock studied at UT under W. William Doty, founding dean of its music school, whom Hancock called his "musical father." After earning his bachelor's degree, he went on to earn a master's degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary in New York.His textbook, "Improvising: How to Master the Art," is widely used, as are his compositions for organ and chorus.A memorial Choral Requiem Eucharist will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 4 in New York at St. Thomas Church. Hancock's ashes will be interred beneath the floor of the chancel where choir directors stand to lead the firstname.lastname@example.org; 445-3604