Society of Peabody Alumni
Citation for the Johns Hopkins University Recent Graduate Award
April 18, 2010
Felix Hell, your name says it all. Felix: Latin for happy or lucky. Hell: German for bright or fair.
Your prodigious talent as an organist, and your surname, have captivated music writers, leading to headlines such as this one from a pre-concert story in the Topeka Capital-Journal: “Hell in church should be heavenly.” And this eye-catching Stereophile listing: “Organ disc from HELL!”
A true Wunderkind, you began playing in church at eight and gave your first concert at nine. Frederick Swann, former president of the American Guild of Organists, called you “undoubtedly one of the major talents of the century”…when you were 13. At the age of 18, after a stint at Juilliard, you received your Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, the youngest organ major ever to graduate from Curtis.
You have given more than 1,000 performances, at venues including Symphony Hall in Boston, the National Cathedral in Washington, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, Macy’s Center City—home of the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ—in Philadelphia, the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, the Opera House in Sydney, the Great Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Bergen Cathedral in Norway, and the Cathedrals of Speyer, Munich, and Ulm in your native Germany.
In 2006, at age 21, you performed the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach on the Holtkamp Organ in Peabody’s Leith Symington Griswold Hall. Four days, ten recitals, nearly 20 hours at the keyboards and pedalboard.
A devoted student of Donald Sutherland at Peabody, you earned your Artist Diploma in 2007 and your Master of Music degree in 2008. You are now, at age 24, a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree.
You hold the positions of Organ Artist Associate of St. Peters Lutheran Church in Manhattan and Distinguished Organist in Residence to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. With an appointment at Sunderman Conservatory in Gettysburg, you have recently added teaching to your brilliant career as a liturgical organist and recitalist.
Felix, your thrilling, historically informed playing and the joy you take in music and life have made all of us at Peabody feel ‘felix’ to have you as a part of our community. The Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association is honored to confer upon you the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award.