Alumni News

Sewanee Summer Music Festival

In Memoriam: Former SSMF student John Taylor “Jace” Herring, Jr.

With sadness, we report the death of accomplished flutist and former SSMF student John Taylor “Jace” Herring, Jr. on December 25, 2010.  Jace was a student of SSMF Conductor Bruce Dinkins in high school and studied with Patricia George for three summers at the Festival. We will greatly miss Jace as both an SSMF alum and a colleague, but we are grateful that his legacy will live on at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.  Because of his great love for the SSMF,  Jace’s mother, Dorri Smith, has graciously donated his entire library of flute music to us for the use of future students.

Please read this remembrance of Jace by SSMF Flute Professor Patricia George:

In many ways, Jace Herring was the perfect student.  When I began teaching him, he was an advanced intermediate level flutist.  However, with each lesson and masterclass he participated in, his learning curve went straight up.  I knew his schedule at the SSMF and wondered when he had time to practice to warrant such results. Did he practice while everyone else was sleeping?  One day he had no vibrato, the next day he used it like an artist.  One day his technique was student-like, and the next he had learned the entire Taffanel & Gaubert and played it with artistry.  His orchestral assignments went from those with little responsibility to five weeks later playing the solo in A Night on Bald Mountain.  The next summer we discovered he was one cracker-jack piccolo player and he assumed the piccolo position in the Festival Orchestra. The next summer he was one of the two flute soloists in the Michael Dougherty Metropolis Symphony. Jace was the Sewanee Summer Music Festival story that we professors like to brag about.  Not only was Jace a wonderful flute player, but he was an extraordinary human being.  Jace and I remained friends over the years.  I value the times we spoke earlier this fall.  Losing Jace is a tragedy to the artistic world and to us, his friends and colleagues.

Here is the obituary that appeared in the Columbia, SC newspaper:

COLUMBIA-John Taylor “Jace” Herring, Jr., 27, died on December 25, 2010, at his home. Jace was born on September 2, 1983, and was the son of Dorri Butler Herring Smith and the late John Taylor Herring, Sr. He attended The Harvest Church in Lexington.

Jace attended Irmo High School, where he was a member of the award winning Bands of Irmo and the Irmo Symphonic Winds, where he played first-chair flute and piccolo at the Chicago Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. He also attended the NC School of the Arts. Jace was then the only high school student ever accepted into the prestigious Trevor Wye Flute Studio in Hastingleigh, England. Jace played first-chair flute and piccolo in the SC All-State Band and in the SC Young Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also a four year member student at the Tri-District Arts Consortium. Jace was an accomplished cook, photographer, and expert computer “wizard.”

Jace was a loving son and brother who was treasured by his family. He is survived by his mother and step-father – Dr. and Mrs. Jarrell (Dorri) Smith of Lexington; brother – Will Herring of Lexington; sister – Macy Herring of Lexington; step-brothers – Gregory Smith of Winston-Salem, NC and Andrew Smith of Charleston, SC; grandparents – Mr. and Mrs. Thomas (Janelle Butler) Drake of Columbia and Mrs. Nancy Butler of Lexington; aunts – Beth Butler Viser (Jim) of Suffolk, VA and Dari Drake Bartz (David) of Columbus, OH; uncles – Butch Butler (Tedi) of Irmo, SC and Robert Herring, Jr. (Nancye) of Richmond, VA; cousins – Catherine Butler, Paige Butler Morton, Max Butler, Caitlin Drake McKay, Rob Herring, and Elizabeth Herring; and a beloved great-aunt, Bettie Gunter Knight of Lexington.

Jace was dearly loved and will be greatly missed. He was predeceased by his father – John Taylor Herring, Sr., grandparents – William J. Butler, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Herring, Sr. and Jestine (Granny Stine) Rikard.

A celebration of Jace’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at Thompson Funeral Home, 4720 Augusta Road, Lexington Chapel with Pastor Ken Jumper of The Harvest Church officiating. Friends may visit with the family prior to the service from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Interment will be immediately following the service at Southland Memorial Gardens.

The family suggests memorials be made to the Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter, PO Box 344, Lexington SC 29071, or the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mid Atlantic Chapter, 9801-I Southern Pine Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28273.

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