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Obituary for Ed Brewer

Ed BrewerIllustrious harpsichordist Edward Brewer died in his home in the presence of family in Leonia, NJ on April 3, 2020 at age 82. A longtime Leonia resident, he was a native of Erie, PA. His obvious talent for music was revealed at age 5 when he was able to correct his older sister’s piano practise by pointing at the keyboard and telling her that she should have played that note instead of the one she had played. As a highschool student, he accompanied school choral performances and was often recruited to play for his church Youth Club parties.

As a music major at Oberlin College, Brewer was encouraged to transfer his keyboard study to the organ. As a graduate student at Illinois University/Urbana-Champagne, Mr. Brewer applied for and received a Fulbright Fellowship to continue his organ studies with renowned organist Helmut Walcha in Frankfurt, Germany. His harpsichord studies continued as well with Maria Jaeger.

Edward Brewer’s school days ended in New York City in 1963 where, as a conscientious objector, he served in the Domestic Peace Corps until 1964 when he became the organist and choir director at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. Mr. Brewer’s extraordinary ability to improvise was given ample opportunity to develop during his tenure at Judson, and he became a masterful continuo player. Among the organizations to which he brought his gifts were, Amor Artis, the Oratorio Society of New York, and the New York Choral Society as well as the New York Philharmonic, the New York Collegium, Orpheus, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Philharmonia Virtuosi. He participated in the Madeira Bach Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival and the North Country Chamber Players summer festival. He was founding director of the Soclair Music Festival, a role he filled for 30 years.

As founder/director of the Brewer Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Brewer participated in a series of first-time recordings of operas by G.F. Handel for MMG. Other labels include Nonesuch, Delos and ESS.A.Y.

Edward Brewer also provided high quality portable pipe organs and harpsichords in many European styles of the 18th century for the multitude of New York musical organizations involved in the performance of baroque music. This service continues as Baroque Keyboards, LLC under the able management of his son and daughter.

Edward Brewer is survived by oboist Virginia Brewer, his devoted wife of 51 years, his son Barry and wife Tomoko and their daughters Miako and Emiko, daughter Hazzan Diana Brewer and wife Sara Brewer and their daughter Camilla, sister Alice, nieces Margaret Perrett, Kathy Nunn, and Martha Gibbons, as well as great nephew George Perrett and great nieces Madeleine Perret and Melody Gibbons.

GEMS is a non-profit corporation that supports and promotes the artists and organizations in New York devoted to early music— the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical periods.

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