New organ students at Oberlin are greeted by some 32 outstanding instruments, but personal favorites inevitably develop over time.
For Daniel Jacky, it was the Brombaugh Opus 25, found in the loft of medieval-inspired Fairchild Chapel and built in the tradition of early 17th-century Germany.
“I love the Fairchild one best,” the fifth-year senior says without hesitation in late May, with just one philosophy final separating him from a double degree in organ performance and mathematics. “You won’t find another one quite like it. It’s so unique in terms of the sound, the touch, and the way it resonates in the chapel.”
So taken by the instrument’s charms, Jacky once asked his teacher, Jonathan Moyer, to devote an entire semester of lessons on it. “That’s the one I’m going to miss the most, for sure,” he says.
But for Jacky, there will be new options: He has been named the American Guild of Organists’ Organ Scholar for 2022-23, a position he will serve at Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina. Among Duke Chapel’s four instruments is one made by Brombaugh, much like the one Jacky knows so well at Oberlin. Another is a Flentrop crafted in the model of Oberlin’s Flentrop (pictured, above and below), which towers over Warner Concert Hall.
Beginning in August, Jacky will perform for services at Duke Chapel and assist with its three choirs, in addition to continuing his studies with chapel organist Christopher Jacobson and performing at Duke Divinity School. The paid internship also covers his housing and healthcare.
“Obviously, the music is great, and the organs are great,” Jacky says of the opportunity. “But everybody there is so welcoming and so friendly. They said, ‘We’re meeting you where you are, and we’re going to make this a good experience for you.’ They really value the things Oberlin has taught me and the experience I had here. It’s actually like Oberlin in a lot of ways. It hit me at one point: I get to do Oberlin professionally.”
Jacky is the first recipient of the AGO Organ Scholarship. In addition to Duke, the program—whose parent organization supports some 12,000 professional organists nationwide—will partner with other top-flight organ institutions across the country in future years.
“It has been such a joy to see Daniel blossom over these last five years,” says Moyer, Oberlin’s David S. Boe Associate Professor of Organ. “Through it all, Daniel has been a committed and hardworking student, as well as a truly uplifting presence in our department. We are so excited for this next chapter in his career: The Organ Scholar Program at Duke Chapel is a real steppingstone into the professional world of cathedral church music.”
Born and raised in rural southern Ohio, Jacky is the son of two teachers who specialize in the subjects he chose as majors: music and math. (“I love to learn!” he says through a beaming smile.) In high school, he juggled a heaping plate of academics, piano studies, soccer, tennis, and track. His introduction to organ came when his piano teacher recommended him for an open position at a local church.
“He was also the first person to tell me about Oberlin,” Jacky says of that teacher. “He described it as sort of an organ Mecca: a small town with a ton of organs. And I thought Wow, this sounds great!”
The advance publicity didn’t lie.
“Oberlin has so many different instruments—the sheer variety is amazing,” he says. “No other institution in the world compares to the variety of organs here.”
At Oberlin, Jacky was the recipient of a Stamps Scholarship, a highly competitive honor through which he earned annual funding from the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, which has partnered with Oberlin since 2013.
Despite COVID interruptions, he served the congregations of three area churches during his five years: one in Oberlin, another in Cleveland, and a third in nearby Amherst, where he also directed the choir. He completed an internship at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan as well.
Jacky considers those outside experiences crucial to earning the AGO internship.
“At Duke, I’ll be leading rehearsals of professional musicians, and that’s not an experience you really get in school without trying to get it yourself,” he says. “We get so much experience here, and being able to adapt to any situation—you learn that at Oberlin.”
Learn more about organ performance at Oberlin at oberlin.edu/organ.
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