Fredonia loses mentor, husband, friend, Sunday evening


Staff Writer

Gerald Thomas Gray, associate professor at the Fredonia College of Music since 2002, died Sunday night. An email from Director Melvin Unger went out to the students and faculty of the college Monday morning, informing them of the news of his passing.

A Tennessee native, Gray brought over a quarter-century worth of experience to the choral room, where he spent his time doing what he loved, teaching students the art of choral singing and conducting.

Gray studied under many prestigious mentors, most notably Robert Shaw whom he toured France with, singing tenor for the Robert Shaw Festival Chorus.

He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Iowa then went on to be a professional chorister with the Boston Baroque, Emmanuel Music of Boston, the Carmel Bach Festival, and the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston.

Gray enjoyed the experience of being a tenor soloist in many productions. Most notably were his critically acclaimed performances in Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion” and a staged production of Monteverdi’s “1610 Vespers” with the Handel and Haydn Society, which the Wall Street Journal accredited the “sensuousness of his vocal line.”

As the director of Choral Activities at Fredonia, Gray is accredited for establishing the Fredonia Chamber Choir, comprised of some of the university’s best vocalists. He has also made a tradition of a holiday concert which annually features works like Handel’s “Messiah” and Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio.”

Gerald Gray has influenced countless members of the Fredonia community, on and off campus. Students frequently recall his in-class speeches, where he urged his pupils to “fight mediocrity” and to never stop trying to become better performers.

In an email put out by the university’s president’s office, Gray’s wife and fellow faculty member, Professor Shinobu Takagi, notes that he “passed away . . . with his loved ones around him.”

“Gerald’s legacy is alive and among us when we are good and kind to one another, and when we make music with love in our hearts,” Takagi tenderly assures.

Takagi mentions a musical memorial of which the details are not yet available. In lieu of flowers, or gifts, the Gerald Gray Choral Scholarship Fund is available for those who wish to donate. To donate, please go to forms/gift

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