Before his life as musician, Friedemann Stihler was an academically qualified teacher focusing on physical education and mathematics before moving into education for children with special needs later on in his career. His musical education began early on. Five years of age, he began piano lessons and had his first concert at a church organ at the age of ten. After his father’s early death, the existing musical education was instrumental in financing his academic studies by accompanying Sunday services on the church organ. Eventually, the church also asked him to become conductor for their choir?
That wish became true and the original agreement to be the choir conductor for 3 months turned into 40 years with the choir of Emmaus parish in Mannheim-Schönau. This musical activity grew over time and more choirs were added to his résumé. Until his departure to the United States he still had three choirs under his management. The abovementioned choir of the Emmaus parish, the ‘Joyful Voices’ ensemble, which he founded and led through many successful and enjoyable concerts
for more than 20 years, and for the last five years, he also conducted the CaraMia women’s choir in Laudenbach, Germany.
Alongside the activities as choir conductor he added another musical specialty to his vita. Friedemann Stihler discovered the opportunity to help African children in need through combining his passions for rock and organ music. Organizationally supported by members of the charity organization ‘Brückenschlag Saxony/Tanzania’, he has been playing unusual concerts all over the world under the trademark “Rockin’ Organ” for the last 5 years using the proceeds to support school building projects in Tanzania.
Four schools that he contributed toward have been built and are used today, another one has started construction in September 2016 and is expected to start operating soon. August 2017 brings a new chapter to Friedemann Stihler’s life when he, at least temporarily, moves to Georgia in the United States of America.
The organ concerts bring humorous moments on a regular basis. An example of that was a concert at a small church in Hermsdorf, Saxony when members of the audience approached him during the intermission if they could have a look at the organ close up, which was of course no trouble at all to Friedemann Stihler. They came back with the remark that they were the usual organ player during the services at that, admittedly small, organ and felt the need to check which additional tools or devices Friedemann was using to get so many different sounds out of the organ. The curious colleagues couldn’t find any and thus highlighted the special challenge in getting such great sounds out of such a small and as Friedemann called it in admiration “Bonsaiorgan”.
Time and time again there are astonishing reactions to the arrangements in Friedemann’s concert program. These are especially nice coming from journalists who express their reactions in writing. For example, in the case of a journalist who wrote after listening to a wellexecuted concert in Mannheim Palace Church (A church that hosted Mozart in his days) and experiencing the arrangement combining Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ with Satchmo’s ‘What a wonderful world’: “What a pity that Franz Schubert himself couldn’t come up with this.” And a colleague of hers wrote, referring to ‘A whiter shade of pale’, the ingenious final song of every concert: “It is unbelievable that Friedemann Stihler plays his best song only as encore, but understandable at the same time as nothing could possibly top that!”
Born in 1953, Musician and academically qualified Educator
Family Status: Married, 4 children
First piano lessons at the age 5, followed by church organ
First organ recital at the age of 10
Musical Areas of Activity:
Composing and arranging, preferably in choir music
Church-organist since 1970, choir conductor since 1976
Concerts since 1978 as choir conductor and organist
Piano as well as organ teacher
Head and Leader of the internationally active gospel choir
‘Joyful Voices’ from Mannheim
Awarded with the Badischen Kirchenmusikpreis 2014
International organ concerts in Ireland, Italy, Poland,
Czech Republic, USA, Canada
Concert tours in Saxony and the Ore Mountains since 2014
CD productions to date:
Studio musician in numerous recording studios
Outstanding productions in the area of gospel music,
especially with the ‘Joyful Voices’
Pianist / Organist for various CD-productions
Piano Solo 1 (2012) – red CD
Rockin’ Organ Vol. 1 (2013) – green CD
Rockin’ Organ USA (2014)
Rockin’ Organ Vol. 2 (2014) – blue CD
Rockin’ Organ Vol.3 (2015) – yellow CD
Rockin’ Organ Vol. 4 (2016) – pink CD
Rockin’ Organ Vol. 5 – Best of… (2017)