Huguette van Ackere (née Chapeau) passed away on Friday, March 31, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s at Greenwich Woods Health Care Center. She was 88. She is survived by her three loving children, Daniel Joseph van Ackere of Boston, MA, Nicole Myriam van Ackere Colwell of Rye, NY and Michel Alain van Ackere, of Tokyo, Japan, their spouses and five grandchildren ranging in age from 4 to 23.
Huguette was born in La Louvière, Belgium in 1928 and began playing piano at the age of six. In 1946 she was graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels with the Premier Prix de Piano and earned a Diplôme Supérieur in Chamber Music the following year. Under scholarship from the Italian government, Huguette spent a year studying at St. Cecilia’s Academy in Rome under Guido Agosti. She distinguished herself as a soloist in concert halls across Europe, including in Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and Geneva, winning recognition in Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth Competition and the Béla Bartók International Competition for Modern Music in Budapest in 1948.
In 1954, Huguette immigrated to the United States with her husband, classical singer and conductor Albert Joseph van Ackere (1914-1993). She dedicated herself to private teaching, as well as to serving on the faculties of Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and for many years at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Her career as a soloist with orchestras and in chamber music flourished throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She performed frequently as principal pianist with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and with various music ensembles, including the Trio Monteux and the Hudson Valley String Quartet, and in concert with cellist Luis Garcia-Renart and violinist Alice Smiley. In later years, she was much sought after as an accompanist to rising young artists.
In so many ways beyond measure, Huguette was a beautiful devoted wife and mother, whose loss feels inconsolable. She will be deeply missed by the many students she has taught and mentored over the years, whose accolades and notes of appreciation fill her desk drawers, as well as by her friends and the caring staff at Greenwich Woods Health Care Center and Greenwich Hospital Home Hospice. A memorial service will take place at a future date; for further information, please contact the Graham Funeral Home in Rye, NY.