Dr. Hilary Tann, John Howard Payne Professor Emerita
Professor Emeritus (1980-2019)
In Memoriam 02.8.2023
Born in Llwynypia, Glamorgan (Wales), she earned her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Wales, and her M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. She joined the College in 1980 and retired in 2019 as the John Howard Payne Professor of Music Emerita, after chairing the Music Department for 15 years.
Known internationally as a prolific composer whose work evoked a range of natural settings that she loved to visit, from the quiet reverie of the Adirondack forest to the lush valleys of her native Wales. Her work was also heavily influenced by music from Japan.
In a 1986 profile of Tann in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Lawrence Biemiller wrote, “In an age when many take music for granted – half-ignoring Mozart in the car, Prokofiev in the kitchen – Hilary Tann sets her students an example that, in breadth and enthusiasm, makes a strong case for treating music with respect.”
She tirelessly advocated for the construction of Taylor Music Center, spearheading the establishment of the College's first facility dedicated to musical studies. She taught courses in music theory and composition, and was the founder of the Union College Orchestra. In 2020, Kurt Glacy ’90 established the Hugh Allen Wilson & Hilary Tann Annual Music Fund, which will support private lesson instruction for students.
Recent composer-residencies included the 2011 Eastman School of Music Women in Music Festival, 2013 Women Composers Festival of Hartford, and 2015 Welsh Music Center. Praised for its lyricism (“beautiful, lyrical work” – Classical Music Web) and formal balance (“In the formal balance of this music, there is great beauty …” – Welsh Music), her music was influenced by a strong identification with the natural world. She was a published haiku poet and had a deep interest in the traditional music of Japan which led to private study of the shakuhachi and guest visits to Japan, Korea, and China. Her compositions have been widely performed and recorded by ensembles such as the European Women’s Orchestra, Tenebrae, Lontano, Meininger Trio, Thai Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBCNOW, and KBS Philharmonic in Seoul, Korea.
Gifts can be made to the Hilary Tann Fund to expand the musical experience of our students, click here for more information.
The National Library of Wales will be the repository for all of Hilary’s works and archive, visible for in-person and online viewing via Hilary Tann Papers
Wales Arts Review - Article remembering Hilary Tann
The Cresset Stone by Hilary Tann
The Daily Gazette - Hilary Tann Remembered
Hugh Allen Willson Professor Emerita
Professor Emeritus (1962 to 1996)
In Memoriam 12 .8. 2010
Hugh Allen Wilson, professor of music emeritus and an internationally known organist, harpsichordist and conductor
Wilson taught at Union from 1962 to 1996. He began as a part-time associate professor of music and organist-in-residence, and later became a full professor, director of the Union College Choir and the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs, and Chairman of the Department of Arts.
On June 28, 1977, he conducted the Men’s Glee Club in a performance at the White House for Jimmy Carter’s first State Dinner, honoring Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. Earlier that year, the group had toured Venezuela to much acclaim. He received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Council in 1974. Throughout his career, he gave more than 1,000 public performances as organist, harpsichordist and conductor.
Besides his work at Union, he was music director emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church in Glens Falls, conductor emeritus of the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, and past president of the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum in Bolton Landing. He was founder and co-conductor of the Bolton Festival of Music in 1948, founder and first dean of the Adirondack chapter of the American Guild of Organists; co-founder of the Adirondack Studio of Song in 1951 (which later became the Lake George Opera Festival). He was a member of the Kraeuter Trio, the Festival Orchestra, the Princeton Chamber Orchestra, the Paschler-Wilson duo, and concertized with violinist/composer George Green. He performed as harpsichord soloist and continuo player with several principal chamber orchestras including the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra with Karl Munchinger, the Princeton Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Classical Orchestra and the Soviet Emigre Orchestra.