A tribute to an alumnus whose voice and outlook were larger than life
Early this September, one of Malvern’s greatest was laid to rest. Brian Hackman ‘05 passed away on September 1. Brian started at Malvern as “a painfully shy freshman,” and by his senior year, grew into “the voice of Malvern,” said music teacher Mr. Ed Liga. According to Liga, Brian Hackman was an embodiment of the arts program at Malvern.
Brian was an integral part in getting the Duffy Arts Center built at Malvern, according to Liga. He gave the arts department instant credibility with his upbeat personality and his breathtaking voice.
“When he started at Malvern, he was painfully shy, but as he got bigger and his hair got longer, he grew into this sort of persona and developed this larger-than-life voice,” said Liga.
Brian enrolled in Men’s Chorus beginning his freshman year. At that time, the chorus program was just starting and the Duffy Arts Center was not even in existence. Men’s Chorus was rehearsing in the basement of Tolentine, where Dr. Fry’s office is today.
“[Brian] was very dedicated to this music department. It was a big part of his life…it was obviously something very important to him. When he sang, he took it very seriously. Even though he was a jokester, when he sang, he was all business,” said Liga.
According to Liga, the music department at Malvern is still benefiting from the class of 2005. He noted that the members of this class took this music program very seriously and are a huge reason this department has become as large as it is today.
“[Hackman] wanted to use his voice to change a lot of things,” said Fr. Flynn. “And I’m not talking about ending poverty in Africa, he just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces through his music, and he did.”
Brian is primarily remembered for his voice, but that was not the most memorable thing to Fr. Flynn. “He was a person of a very deep faith, and on the outside he was sort of rough-and-tumble, but when we sat down and talked there was a sort of depth to him that I found very energizing,” said Flynn.
Although he could be overbearing at times, those close to Brian knew that he was a deeply complicated, emotional person who always had the best intentions in mind. Brian was constantly going out of his way to help other people out.
“When Father Duffy died he was a freshman at Catholic University,” said Liga. “He took the train up just to sing at his funeral, and I thought they was a really neat thing, because he didn’t need to do it. It was January, the semester was just starting and he would miss some of his classes, but that didn’t bother him, he wanted, no, he needed to do this.”
Brian died on September 1 at age 27. His funeral service was held at Our Lady of Assumption Church in Wayne on September 6. Six members of Men’s Chorus attended and sung at this service in honor of Brian: Michael Gormley ‘16, Phil Daubney ‘15, Jack Murphy ‘15, Jack Marchesani ‘15, Andrew Stetser ‘15 and Christian Franck, along with Mr. Liga. Alumni Jason Sammartino ‘04, Chris Igidbashian ‘05, Dan Landau-Smith ‘05, and Dan Dolente ‘05 also performed with Men’s Chorus.
Brian’s family requested that Malvern’s chorus come and sing four songs during the service, all songs Brian had sung during his time at Malvern. These four songs were “Soulshine” sung by Mr. Liga, “You Raise Me Up” sung by Phil Daubney, and “Come Sail Away” and “We are One Body” sung by the whole Chorus.
“The pressure of singing a song made famous at your high school by a legend like Brian is pretty great,” said performer Phil Daubney ‘15. “I mean, I knew that no one can perform it better than he did, but at the same time, I felt very connected to his family as I led them in the song of his memory.”
The staff of the Blackfriar Chronicle sends their condolences to the Hackman family.