Our dear friend John Weissrock unexpectedly passed into eternal life around 10 a.m. Sunday, September 9. A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Gesu on Saturday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m., with a musical prelude at 6:30 p.m. All present and former choir members are welcome to join in the choir loft as we pay tribute to John's memory. John's obituary is available here. We will post additional updates here as details emerge.
John was passionate about life, and about music. He enjoyed dining with friends, sharing wine and laughter, and keeping in touch with the many folks he had met over the years. John would sometimes take a while to respond due to the enormity of contacts he had, but one thing was certain: he would always be supportive. It didn't matter whether he knew you from the 60's or the 10's. He always shared the best part of himself.
A living luminary, John's musical genius was beyond description, and we will not be able to do it justice here. He will be fondly remembered by the many parishioners, choirs, religious, composers, soloists, students, friends and peers who had the privilege of his association during his life.
During his time as Director of Music and Principal Organist at Gesu Parish, his goal was to transform the then-failing Kimball/Kilgen pipe organ into something that would serve the Parish well for future generations. Several people were critical of how long John took to get the pipe organ project completed. This was not for lack of effort on John's part, but because he wanted it to be "just right." He often repeated the words of one of his organ teachers: "Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth doing well is worth doing extra well."
The complete vision for the pipe organ eventually took shape as a new Schantz instrument, but it was important to John that it maintain many of the sets of pipes from Gesu instruments that had preceded it. Guiding the design of the console, John argued passionately and successfully for tilting tabs so any organist who sat down--from novice to advanced--would be able to easily find the right stops to register a piece of music. The resulting instrument wound up being the largest pipe organ in the state of Wisconsin, and it has been compared to Schantz's work in the Town Hall of Melbourne, Austrailia, but those are merely happy byproducts: John's goal was for this instrument to be the best possible pipe organ for the sacred space at Gesu.
Before his arrival at Gesu, John had made several recordings of various organ and choral works. These do still exist on LP, and several have been converted into digital format on the Internet by one of his devoted friends. John's recording of the Liszt Ad nos is regarded even today as one of the best. One can imagine the time and dedication it took to record this masterpiece in the era of reel-to-reel tapes.
Eternal rest grant unto John, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May John's soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.