Mitchell Herrmann, a Technology in Music and the Related Arts (TIMARA) and cinema studies major, has been named a Marshall Scholar. Named in honor of Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Marshall Scholarship commemorates the ideals of the Marshall Plan and the relationship between the British and American people.
Herrmann plans to use the scholarship to fund two years of study in the United Kingdom, during which time he will earn two master’s degrees: the first at University of Manchester in electroacoustic composition and the second at De Montfort University, where he will complete a theory-based research degree in music. After finishing his studies, he plans to return to the United States to do doctoral work in music composition.
The Riverside, Illinois, native says he became interested in British electroacoustic composition in a TIMARA course during his second year. “I took a TIMARA class in which I was introduced to the music and writing of British electroacoustic composers. These composers create music by recording sound from the real world, then using computer software to create musical pieces from these sounds. British electroacoustic music has been a huge influence on my own work as a composer.” He says the Marshall Scholarship is an opportunity to learn firsthand from these composers.
The Marshall Scholarship is among the most competitive of undergraduate fellowships. “It is comparable to, and in many years statistically more competitive than, the Rhodes Scholarship,” says Oberlin’s fellowships advisor Nicholas Petzak. The application process culminates in interviews with previous Marshall Scholarship winners and the British Consul General.
“His music is being performed in some of the most prestigious venues around the world, his first professional publication will appear next year in the top journal in his field, and he is completing double degrees at Oberlin in just four years. He is already working at a level comparable to the very best graduate students in his field.”
However, Petzak points out it takes more than just an impressive resume to win the award. “The difference for Mitchell, I think, is he is able to draw on a uniquely Oberlin College and Conservatory experience. Electroacoustic music is Mitchell’s professional ambition, but he speaks as persuasively and passionately about the documentary film he made last year and his experience in Kosher-Halal Co-op as he does about any sound recording. Ask him about vegan cooking, the TIMARA studio, or his film about the challenges faced by sex workers in Akron, Ohio, and you will hear answers that express deep conviction, long and careful thought, and a sense of humor. It is a winning combination.”
Herrmann says he appreciates all the help he received from faculty members, including Brian Alegant, who recently was named Professor of the Year. Alegant “really pushed me to find impactful and accessible ways to talk about my work,” Herrmann says. He credits President Marvin Krislov and Elizabeth Ogonek, a visiting assistant professor of composition who won the Marshall Scholarship when she was a student, and a panel of other professors who helped prepare him for the interview in Chicago.