Nunc dimittis

November 29, 2016

Nunc Dimittis

Jonathan E. Biggers, associate professor of music and Edwin Link Endowed Professor in Organ and Harpsichord at Binghamton University, died unexpectedly on September 27 at his home in Vestal, New York. Born on February 10, 1960, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Robert E. and Margaret V. Biggers, Jonathan earned bachelor and master degrees in music from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate in organ performance from the Eastman School of Music. He was awarded a Fulbright grant to study at the Conservatory of Music in Geneva, Switzerland. He won a unanimous first prize at the 1985 Geneva International Pipe Organ Competition, and also won the 1990 Calgary International Organ Festival Concerto Competition. Biggers presented hundreds of concerts in church and university settings throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, appeared as the featured soloist with orchestras in both the U. S. and Canada, and was featured many times on NPR “Pipedreams,” the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, and on radio and Television Suisse Romande broadcasts in Geneva, Switzerland. Jonathan E. Biggers is survived by his brother and sister in law, Fred and Caroline Biggers of Staunton, Virginia, and their children Claire and Sam to whom he was simply Uncle Jonathan.


George Bernard Bryant, Jr., died October 9 at the age of 77 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. Born June 17, 1939, in Nyack, New York, Bryant began playing the organ at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Nyack, while in high school, before attending the Juilliard School in New York City, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organ. He returned to Nyack to serve as organist for St. Ann’s Church from 1966 until retirement in 2014. He was a founding member of the Rockland County Music Teachers Guild and served on the music commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. In 1978, he became organist of Temple Beth Torah, continuing until 2014. In 1992, Bryant formed the Rockland County Catholic Choir, an organization that has toured Europe and Canada on several occasions. The George Bryant scholarship was created in 1997 to promote organ students and their studies. 


Emily Ann Cooper-Gibson died at her home in Marshall, Texas, on May 19, 2016, after an extensive illness. Born in 1935, she won the American Guild of Organists National Competition at the 1956 national convention in New York City. She studied with Robert Ellis at Henderson College, Arkadelphia, Arkansas (BM, 1957), David Craighead at the Eastman School of Music (Performer’s Certificate and MM, 1961; DMA, 1969), and André Marchal in Paris, France (Fulbright Fellow, 1958–59). Cooper-Gibson taught at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, and Hardin-Simmons University, Abeline, Texas, and served at churches in Abeline, Texas; Rochester, New York; Washington, D. C.; Potomac and Bethesda, Maryland; and McLean, Virginia. From 1957 through 1998 she played recitals throughout the United States and Europe. Active in the AGO, she served as dean of several chapters. Emily Ann Cooper-Gibson is survived by Gerald Gibson, her husband of over 50 years.


James A. Wood of Concord, New Hampshire, died October 16 at the age of 90. He was born on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, February 8, 1926. After graduating from Nantucket High School he studied at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, majoring in organ with E. Power Biggs and George Faxon, and choral conducting with Sarah Caldwell. During World War II he served as an Army medic in Europe. After the war he continued his studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and Trinity College in London, England.

He served as director of music at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Nashua, New Hampshire, for 23 years, and at Saint Paul’s Church in Concord, New Hampshire, from 1970 until his retirement. In 1956 he joined the faculty of Saint Paul’s School in Concord and became head of the music department and director of chapel music in 1970. In 1955, he was a founder of the Actorsingers of Nashua, a community group of vocalists and actors producing musicals and operettas. He was a dean of the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and was named honorary member in 2008. He was also a president of the New Hampshire Music Teachers Association.

James A. Wood was pre-deceased by his wife, Constance A. Wood, a daughter, Licia A. O’Conor, and a grandson, Alexander. A memorial service was held at the Old Chapel at St. Paul’s School on October 22. Donations in his memory may be made to St. Paul’s School Music Department, 325 Pleasant Street, Concord New Hampshire 03301, or St. Paul’s Church Food Pantry, 21 Centre Street, Concord, New Hampshire 03301.