Campus, News

Organ prof. honored, seen as crucial to music at BU

BU Director of Music at Marsh Chapel Scott Jarrett said although he never knew Max Miller, former Director of Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, there is not a day that goes by when he does not think of him.

“Though I only know him [Miller] through the beautiful stories about him, I have come to regard him as a family member,” Jarrett said. “The people that are here today are here as a testament to Max’s strong legacy … and the organists that are here today represent the many decades of Max’s service.”

After serving 42 years on the faculty of the School of Music and the School of Theology before his retirement in 1991, Miller left a lasting impact on the music program at BU, Hill said. Miller died in January.

“By my count, there are about five people who have been here at BU that fill holes that Max filled as one person,” Jarrett said. “He was an extraordinary person whose effect on this university has been far reaching.”

About 100 of Miller’s friends, family members, colleagues, former students and admirers gathered into Marsh Chapel on Sunday to honor Miller as an organist, as an educator and as a mentor.

Following Hill’s opening remarks, former student Marian Metson played a musical tribute to Miller on the organ.

Next, Peter Sykes, Miller’s successor as professor of organ at BU, also performed a musical tribute to his former colleague. Sykes said the memorial service successfully demonstrated Miller’s profound impression on the lives of many

“I found Max to be unfailingly wonderful,” Sykes said. “He was so nice and always very supportive. . . He was always someone that I looked up to as a model of how someone should lead a musical community.”

Nancy Granert, who assisted Miller in teaching the Master of Sacred Music Organ Concentrators in 1990, also performed a musical tribute during the memorial. Granert said Miller played a large role in her life and in her career at BU.

“This [service] reminded me of all the moments of hospitality that Max and his wife Betty gave to everyone,” Granert said. “The same feeling of closeness that you felt here in the Chapel today is what you would always feel in their home.”

Jarrett, who co-organized the memorial with Miller’s former colleague Barbara Owen and Miller’s former student Peter Krasinski. The three received guidance from Miller’s widow Betty in how to properly honor Miller and his contributions to BU and its music program.

Krasinski, a professor of music in the greater Boston area, said Miller was a dedicated musician whose passion resonated with his students beyond the classroom.

“He was very much interested in what people were doing long after they had graduated,” Krasinski said. “He instilled a curiosity in his students to discover what the composer had in mind. He was able to let each performer or student of organ find his or her own voice while respecting the intentions of the composer.”

CORRECTION: A past version of this article originally attributed quotes in graphs two and four to BU Reverend Robert Hill. The aforementioned quotes should have been attributed to Director of Music at Marsh Chapel Scott Jarrett. This article has been updated to reflect this correction.

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