PLU Music Announces Inaugural Paul Fritts Endowed Chair in Organ Studies and Performance
By Liza Conboy
PLU College of Professional Studies
Beginning in Fall 2024, PLU will be welcoming Dr. Justin Murphy-Mancini as the Inaugural Paul Fritts Endowed Chair in Organ Studies and Performance.
Murphy-Mancini began organ study at age 10, beginning his journey in church, “quite literally as soon as I was tall enough to reach the pedalboard,” he added. Murphy-Mancini is looking forward to sharing his passion for early music and music by living composers.
Murphy-Mancini will join PLU from the University of Southern Maine, where he currently serves as organ faculty in the Osher School of Music. He also brings his experience as director of church music at First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist, in Massachusetts. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California, San Diego, an M.M. in historical keyboards from Oberlin College & Conservatory, as well as bachelor degrees in composition, organ performance, and philosophy from Oberlin.
Murphy-Mancini has a special connection with the institution’s awe inspiring Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Organ, designed by Paul Fritts. While living in San Diego, he had “the frequent privilege to play [Fritts’] Opus 5,” an early instrument Fritts built in 1985 for All Souls Church in Point Loma.
The vibrant music culture at PLU played a significant role in Murphy-Mancini’s decision to accept this position. “The welcoming atmosphere and excitement for learning made me feel that my future would be creatively stimulating at PLU,” he said. During his time in this role, Murphy-Mancini plans to be an ambassador for the organ, as he believes that there is a style of music for everyone in organ literature.
Murphy-Mancini has this message for prospective organ students: “Managing multiple keyboards, pedals, and stop combinations may seem daunting at first, but in a way, it turns you into a conductor and a synthesizer composer rolled into one. You have access to a very special kind of creativity in making all of the elements of organ music come together.”
More information about the program is available on the Organ Study webpage.