(Editor’s Note: My son, Andrew Brown, lost a very dear teacher, mentor, and friend yesterday when Ben Hutto passed away. This is the same Ben Hutto who was recently given a shout out by Stephen Colbert on one of his first Late Night shows, and the same person who was included — unbeknownst to us before we heard his name read out loud — in the Prayers of the People when we visited St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London a couple of weeks ago. Ben not only touched our family, he touched tens of thousands of people all across the globe. Ben had a love for music and life that reached so many people on so many different levels. I noted in my 60 Lessons from 60 Years (#54) that one should never underestimate the impact one person can have on the world. Ben Hutto was one of those people who touched many lives. Andrew wrote the following for Facebook, and as of this afternoon, his post was nearing 400 likes. It was just one of hundreds of posts and comments on Ben’s Facebook page. Andrew’s is heartfelt and beautiful, and I wanted to share it with you.)
William Benjamin Hutto III (October 4, 1947 – September 29, 2015)
I have something to ask of you, friends. Please keep my dear teacher, friend, and mentor, Ben Hutto, in your thoughts and prayers as he enters his eternal life.
The first time I sang with Mr. Hutto was in 2004 as a treble. Thinking back to that performance of “Chichester Psalms,” I don’t think I could have comprehended exactly how profound an impact Ben would have on me half a lifetime later. His ardent spirit and closeness to God led him to touch the lives of thousands of students, teaching the values of choral music and its role in the Episcopal faith. Between three choral groups and four musicals, he was the teacher at St. Albans I spent the most time with by far, learning about the idiosyncrasies of Herbert Howells and laughing at the characteristically Southern idioms he would use to describe the music he loved. When I was still a senior in high school, Ben was the first person to hire me as a professional musician at his church, St. John’s Lafayette Square. Since then he has become not only a teacher and mentor but also a friend. I am only one of the countless young musicians he mentored, and I feel so blessed to have spent time with him making music, socializing over gin, and just being. The outpouring of prayers, love, and support over the past months from the St. Albans, St. John’s, and Episcopal musician communities demonstrates the wonderful role he held in so many people’s lives.
Requiescat in pace, my teacher, my mentor, my friend. You will always be with me in my music and in my life. I love you.
More to come…