Bruce Neswick Conducts April Masterclass

Bruce Neswick addresses Tacoma AGO members during the April meeting

Bruce Neswick, Canon for Music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, was featured as both a performer and teacher at our April meeting at Kilworth Chapel, University of Puget Sound.  Bruce is no stranger to the Tacoma AGO.  A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, Bruce has maintained his ties to the Pacific Northwest even though his training and professional life have been global.

The program began with a short recital featuring the Easter section of the Orgelbuchlein of J. S. Bach.  Bruce used these six pieces to demonstrate the flexibility and power of the Bethel Schneebeck organ in Kilworth Chapel, opus 8 of Paul Fritts, who is a University of Puget Sound graduate, member of the Tacoma AGO, and who was in attendance.

Following the recital, three local organists played in a masterclass format.

UPS organ student Emma Rose Kelly discusses registration with her teacher, AGO Dean-elect Paul Thornock

Emma Rose Kelly, a current student at University of Puget Sound, chose a Buxtehude work, Prelude, Fugue, and Chaconne, BuxWV 137.  In discussing this piece, Bruce made numerous references to grammar, comparing the musical phrases to spoken phrases, requiring semicolons and paragraphs.  This piece contains both triplets and dotted rhythms, and with Bruce’s help, Emma Rose was able to distinguish them clearly.

Collin Whitfield, 2018 AGO scholarship recipient, discusses his piece with Bruce Neswick

Collin Whitfield, the 2018 recipient of the Tacoma AGO organ scholarship and organist at Mason United Methodist Church, chose to play Bach’s Little Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 557.  Bruce used this piece to discuss the importance of recognizing the musical character of each section of a piece, and accenting those features.

He was genuinely affirming to each one of us in a way that made up for the terror of playing in front of an audience of peers!

–Satya Jaech

Satya Jaech prepares to play

Satya Jaech, the last performer, is active in the Tacoma AGO, having served on the board for the past two years, and having been elected to serve four more.  She chose BWV 662, Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr, an ornamented chorale prelude.  It is, of course, important to carefully consider the ornamentation in such a piece, and Bruce spent much of the time helping Satya shape the trills.

Satya felt very positive about her experience.  “What I appreciated most about Bruce’s instruction was his ability to help us turn notes on a page into music. I played my piece with more freedom after the master class because of the encouragement he gave to actually make music. He also helped me with a tempo issue that I’d been struggling with. He was genuinely affirming to each one of us in a way that made up for the terror of playing in front of an audience of peers!”

Una shows Bruce the improvisation submissions

Finally, as a combination encore and treat for the audience, Una Hwang, who has served as program chair for the past two years, presented Bruce with three tunes, submitted by the three performers.  Bruce chose Bingham, a hymn tune submitted by Satya Jaech, and crafted an improvisation based on it.

The handout is attached below.



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