ROCHESTER, NY — It’s a homecoming unlike any other for music legend Mitch Miller.
On Thursday, September 9, the Rochester native and recipient of a 2000 Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement will return to his alma mater, the Eastman School of Music, for a special ceremony in his honor.
During it, Eastman School Director James Undercofler will formally dedicate Eastman Place — the building at 25 Gibbs Street that houses the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School administrative offices, Max restaurant, and several businesses — to the memory of Miller’s parents, Abram Calmen and Hinda Rosenblum Miller, and officially rename the building “Miller Center.” Several Rochester-area leaders also will be on hand to salute Miller, who will be joined by members of his family (some of whom still reside in Rochester) for the ceremony at 3 p.m. in the building’s Robert and Mary Sproull Atrium.
“Mitch Miller is one of music’s most enduring figures, one of Eastman’s most treasured alumni, and one of Rochester’s most notable sons,” said Undercofler, whose idea it was to honor the music icon in this manner. “It is a privilege for the Eastman School to salute him in this way — and fitting that a building in the heart of his hometown will carry his family’s name forward for future generations.”
Born in Rochester on the fourth of July, 1911, Miller grew up on Sheridan Street, the son of working-class immigrant parents. His father, Abram, was a wrought iron worker whose labor is reflected in street signs around the city, notably in the Browncroft neighborhood, and in the fence at Mt. Hope Cemetery; his mother, Hinda, was a seamstress. Mitch, a self-proclaimed “product of the Rochester public school music system,” began playing the oboe at age 12, ultimately earning his bachelor’s degree with distinction from the Eastman School in 1932. He then moved to New York City where he began a tremendously varied career — as a great classical oboist, a successful record company executive, a network TV star, founder and music director of Little Golden Records, and a much-loved symphonic and pops conductor — that ultimately spanned more than seven decades and has made him one of the most colorful and accomplished musicians in America.