April 11, 1948 - October 15, 2013
Stephen Edward Gerber, 65, of Framingham, MA, died peacefully on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at his home in the arms of his devoted, beloved wife, and loving son, and stepped into the presence of his Lord and Saviour. Stephen was an American composer, lyricist, music director, conductor, writer, and phenomenal pianist. He was a humble man of unwavering faith, a loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend who leaves behind a legacy of courage, strength, forgiveness, humor, compassion, and love. The immediate cause of death was sepsis due to a healthcare-related disease called Clostridium Difficile Colitis (C-Diff) and Enterococcal infection (VRE). This followed a difficult two-year battle with a rare disease called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), and a six-year battle with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Stephen was born April 11, 1948 in Middletown, Ohio to Jean (Harden) Gerber and the late John A. Gerber. He grew up on the family farm in Hamilton, Ohio. A graduate of Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio, he excelled in the classroom, on the sports field, and especially at music, winning numerous awards for his cornet and trumpet playing. He was awarded a scholarship to, and graduated from, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he majored in trumpet and piano, and went on to study conducting and orchestration at the Aspen School of Music, also on scholarship. He studied conducting under the tutelage of Herbert Blomstedt, Dr. Dennis Russell Davies, Otto-Werner Mueller, the late Max Rudolf, and the late Erich Kunzel. He wrote compositions for author and bassist Barry Green’s Advanced Techniques of Double Bass Playing and Romantic Music for the Double Bass. He was accompanist for Prima Ballerina Suzanne Farrell. Stephen made his New York debut at the age of 26 conducting his Concerto for Timpani & Orchestra with the Juilliard School Orchestra at Lincoln Center. As music director and pianist, he toured with the 1981 USO show in Europe. While Stephen was working in Cincinnati, Ohio as musical director, orchestrator and arranger for King’s Productions and Taft Broadcasting, and staff pianist at the Westin Hotel, he met and married the love of his life, Nancy Hoffmann. After the birth of their beautiful son, Douglas, the family moved to New York City where Stephen was Director of Entertainment for Holiday Cruise and Cruise International. Later, he became Director of Sales and Promotions for Galaxy Music Corporation in NYC, and served as an officer (secretary) to the Music Publishers Association of The United States. While in New York, he was accepted into the prestigious BMI Musical Theatre Writers Workshop and ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop where he was mentored by Stephen Sondheim, Martin Charnin, Stephen Schwartz, and the late Edward Kleban. When Galaxy Music was sold to ECS Publishing, Boston MA, the Gerbers relocated to Boston where Stephen continued to handle all facets of sales and promotions for ECS of classical print music to churches, libraries, and colleges, as well as print music dealers in the USA and Canada. Stephen and Nancy Gerber’s production company Acts from the Heart produced numerous one act plays and musical reviews in venues around the country, including colleges, churches, prisons, juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, The United States Army Natick Soldier Center, and partnered with the School of Creative Arts, and Home Improvement Ministries. The Acts from the Heart production of the original musical Suddenly on Christmas Eve, for which Stephen wrote the music, lyrics, and libretto has been seen by over 30,000 people in the New England area. Stephen’s orchestral compositions and arrangements have been performed by, among others, the Cincinnati Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Middletown Symphony, Porte Alegre (Brazil) Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, New England Conservatory Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Boston Civic Symphony, Wellesley Symphony, and the Lexington Symphony. He wrote the libretto for Suite Dreams! which was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and featured his wife Nancy Hoffmann Gerber, who also premiered his What If? for voice and orchestra. Suite Dreams! has also been performed by the New World Symphony Orchestra, and was translated into French for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. Other performances of his works include Vivace from the Concerto for Two Horns and Orchestra with the Illinois Philharmonic, colors on a canvas for strings by Wellesley Symphony, and most recently, Lullaby for Jenny with the Lexington Symphony. Stephen’s catalogue includes holiday orchestral arrangements, choral music, chamber music, instrumental solos, concertos, original songs, and sacred arrangements (three of which were recorded by Douglas Yeo, former Boston Symphony Orchestra bass trombonist). Stephen served as music director, conductor, and pianist for Grace Chapel in Lexington, Westgate Church in Weston, Union Church of Stow, The Shirley Chorale, and many other choral groups. He served as pianist for Vision New England. He was an honorary board member and composer-in-residence for the Lexington Symphony. He was guest conductor of the Boston Civic Symphony. He was a member of BMI and ASCAP, The Musicians Union of Cincinnati, NYC, and Boston, and an honorary member of the International Songwriters Union. Together with his wife and son, he worked in the New England area serving many outreach programs and ministering to those imprisoned. Stephen was a great encourager, and loved to share his passion of music and the arts with people of all ages. He lectured and taught musical theatre workshops and classes along side his wife for the School of Creative Arts, several colleges, high schools, and theatre groups. His lectures were well received by, among others, Tufts University (MA), Shepherd University (WV), Culver Stockton College (MO), Nola Studios (NYC), York University (Toronto, CAN), and the National Print Music Dealers Association (Toronto, CAN). He worked as conductor and orchestrator in national radio and TV commercials, and once conducted 250 tuba players at the Tubajubalee festival in Cincinnati. Stephen’s faith was an inspiration to all who knew him. Through his many chemotherapy treatments and medical procedures he would often sing with his wife and anyone else who wanted to join in. He treasured his family and friends, always had an uplifting word to share, and a “don’t-give-up” spirit. His dry wit, contagious laugh, and twinkling eyes could not be missed. Every decision Stephen made was with his family in mind and for God’s Glory. He bravely battled against a host of horrific illnesses; his medical team at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute called him “miracle man”. A beautiful light went out on October 15, 2013. We will miss you Stephen as we continue to press on until we meet again in heaven. Stephen is survived by his beloved wife of 31 years, Nancy Hoffmann Gerber, his loving son, Douglas J.L. Gerber, precious mother Naomi Jean (Harden) Gerber, dear sister Harriet (Gerber) Freeland and her husband Robert Freeland, dear brother Douglas E. Gerber, dear brother Dr. John H. Gerber and his wife Tara Beth Gerber, plus ten nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and countless friends who were like brothers and sisters to him. A Celebration of Life service for Stephen and reception will be held at Westgate Church, 100 Winter Street in Weston, MA. on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 6pm. 781-237-2633. In lieu of flowers a tax deductible gift may be made to the Stephen E. Gerber Memorial Trust Fund. This is a 501(c) (3) memorial established to preserve and continue Stephen’s music and legacy. Please send to: 60 Winthrop Street Framingham, MA. 01702.