Long-time Advent Church music director, organist Edith Ho dies at 88 – Beacon Hill Times
Edith Ho, who was the musical director and organist of the Advent Church for three decades, died on July 30 in palliative care in Worcester following a long illness. She was 88 years old.
Born August 16, 1932 in Guangzhou, China, Ms. Ho was one of three children who grew up in Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the Boston Globe, and she immigrated to the United States as a teenager, giving piano recitals to finance his trip.
Ms. Ho received a BA in Piano from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Md., Before receiving another BA in Organ, as well as an MA, from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She also did doctoral studies at Peabody until 1969. (The Peabody Institute then awarded Ms. Ho a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.)
She studied in Germany with organists Heinz Wunderlich and Helmut Walcha, and gave concerts across Europe, including a recital at Notre-Dame de Paris that reportedly drew a crowd of 4,000.
In addition, Ms. Ho received an honorary degree from the Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, in 1994. She was also a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Anglican Musicians.
Ms. Ho, who lived in Newton for many years, joined the Advent Church staff in 1977 and will continue to work there until 2007, when she retired due to a heart disease, according to The Globe.
Mark Dwyer, the church’s current music director and organist, had known Ms. Ho for over 30 years. He came to Advent Church in 1989 when Ms. Ho hired him as an assistant and resigned from that role 12 years later before returning to the church in 2007 to succeed him as musical director.
“Two important things I will remember about her were her incredible self-discipline – she was one of the most disciplined and driven people I know,” Dwyer said of Ho. “And she was also one of the most generous people I have ever known.
She always wrote checks backstage and often had a student living in her house. His incredible self-discipline has always been tempered by his generosity towards others.
But it was probably Ms. Ho’s unwavering passion for music that most defined her life, Dwyer said.
Ms Ho lost her 12-year-old husband Paul Van Ocken, a former Catholic priest and monk from Belgium and continued to work as a radiation therapist at Mass General Hospital, to cancer in 1990. Around At the end of her life, as Dwyer recalls, Van Ocken said of his wife: “Well, Edith can live without me, but she cannot live without music.”
Ms Ho and Van Ocken had no children and she is survived by family members in California, according to Dwyer.
A commemorative Requiem Mass for Ms. Ho will be held on Saturday September 11 at 11 a.m. in the Advent Church.