May 4, 2017
Hillary Hempstead
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Mitchell Miller ’17, a double-degree student in organ performance and German studies, has been awarded a Fulbright research grant to study organ performance in Germany.

At Oberlin, he organized the monthly Friday Night Organ Pump performances in Finney Chapel, and he also played the harpsichord for baroque period instrument ensembles and soloists in the Conservatory’s Division of Historical Performance.

Miller was encouraged to apply for the fellowship after hearing other organists’ positive comments about studying in Europe. In addition, Miller says that because he is researching 19th-century German organ music and wants to study the instrument in its original context, he must travel to Europe. “Because the organ is such a large instrument, the player must go to it in order to learn.”

During his fellowship, Miller will be studying in the studio of Professor Ludger Lohmann at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Professor Lohmann has established himself as one of the leading scholars of German Romantic music, and there are a number of original 19th-century instruments that still exist in the Stuttgart area.” Miller says that the opportunity to study this music with such an extremely knowledgeable teacher and to gain exposure to original instruments provide him with an unparalleled opportunity.

In addition to studying German organs and music during his fellowship, Miller plans to delve into the intricacies of organ building. “I’d like to study organ building techniques so that I can begin work as a scholar of this musical era and continue my research in whatever education lies beyond my Fulbright.”

In the short term, Miller hopes to pursue both a master’s and a doctoral degree. However, he has an ambitious long-term goal rooted in his love of the 19th-century German organ.

“The United States is experiencing a period in which organ builders are constructing organs in a historical style, but there are few German romantic style organs. My plan is to work toward the construction of an organ in the 19th-century German style in this country.

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