[JPL] Horace Boyer remembered
tr at wfcr.org
Fri Jul 24 15:24:15 EDT 2009
*Here's an article by Chris Russell on Horace Boyer that appeared in
today's /Daily Hampshire Gazette/ in Northampton, Mass.
AMHERST - "The world is dimmer now, but a heavenly choir is singing with
This is how Rob Hirschfeld, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst,
described the passing of Horace Clarence Boyer, a resident since 1973,
who died Tuesday at the age of 74 (Read Boyer's obituary by visiting
this story on GazetteNET.com).
Boyer gave life to the earthly choirs he sang in as well, including many
Sundays at Grace Episcopal, where he became a member upon moving to
Amherst, and on several gospel albums he recorded during the 1950s with
his brother, James, under the name of the Boyers Brothers.
Music was Boyer's passion. He received a doctorate from the Eastman
School of Music and was a professor in the Department of Music and Dance
from 1973 to 1999 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
His passion had a great influence on many in the community. Tom Reney,
host of WFCR's "Jazz à la Mode," said Boyer had been a mentor to him
since he first met him as a UMass student in the 1970s, and was certain
many others would call him a mentor as well.
"He had a genuine gift for teaching," Reney said. "He could bring out
the innate musicality in everyone. I saw him turn somewhat sedate
gatherings of people into near revival meetings ¿ by the way he helped
people discover something in themselves that maybe they didn't know
Reney dedicated Thursday's "Jazz à la Mode" to Boyer in remembrance of
his musical legacy, contribution to the community and as a way to give
thanks for his generosity to WFCR and the many hours he volunteered
helping to run station fund drives.
"He turned it into a bit of a church service, passed the collection bin
around, and called on all the backsliders to come through with
contributions," Reney said.
Boyer also dedicated a considerable amount of time to his church. He
compiled and edited a collection of gospel hymns - "Lift Every Voice and
Sing" - now used by Episcopal churches throughout the country.
Hirschfeld said the hymnal was a great contribution - before Boyer
assembled it, Episcopalians only heard classical hymns from Western Europe.
"He taught Episcopalians everywhere the riches and the enormously
textured culture of African-American gospel music," Hirschfeld said. "He
blew the spiritual socks off of people who were used to staid, baroque
Boyer was a connoisseur of all musical styles, and did not want gospel
to replace other traditional genres of music in church, but rather
"He believed church services should be fully musically integrated, so
that we hear Southern gospel hymns next to the great Gregorian chants,"
Hirschfeld said. "Martin Luther King said Sunday morning was the most
segregated time in America, and Horace did his best to break down that
Others in Grace's congregation couldn't help but notice Boyer, such as
George Goodwin, who has attended Grace Episcopal since 1968, and become
acquainted with Boyer when he joined the church.
Goodwin said even though he and Boyer were not particularly close, the
professor agreed to help him raise money for Habitat for Humanity by
auctioning off antiques.
Goodwin said he did so "rather skillfully, as he was a very
public-spirited man" and added that he was "a humble man, had a great
sense of humor, and is someone I wish I had known better."
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