Personal Summary / Bio
Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra’s passion for early music, historical instruments, and improvisation coalesce in her performances as organist, harpsichordist, clavichordist, and conductor; in her articles and books; compositions; recordings; and in her teaching. As Professor of Music and University Organist at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, MI; 1996–2008) and Bethany College (Lindsborg, KS; 1989–96), Ruiter-Feenstra developed successful improvisation pedagogy methodology and symposia, and aural-oriented performance practice by directing the Collegium Musicum and other early music ensembles. She is a founding member of Voci dell’Anima, an early music ensemble featuring voice, cornetto, viola da gamba or Baroque ‘cello, organ and harpsichord. Currently, Ruiter-Feenstra is developing a series of improvisation pedagogy books: Muse, a multi-disciplinary early childhood vocal music curriculum; Improvisation Encounters, an improvisation tutor for high school and early college keyboard students and any musician new to improvisation; and Bach and the Art of Improvisation (CHI Press, 2011), improvisation pedagogy in a musicological and historical context, for intermediate to advanced improvisers. She frequently plays, sings, conducts, and teaches at various churches and institutions; has a private studio of piano, organ, harpsichord, and improvisation students; and is a Fleur de Son Classics artist.
As an undergraduate, Ruiter-Feenstra attended Dordt College, where she studied organ, choral conducting, and composition with Joan Ringerwole and Dale Grotenhuis. She received the Doctoral and Master of Fine Arts degrees in Organ Performance and Pedagogy with secondary emphases in Music Theory, Sacred Music, and Conducting from the University of Iowa with Delbert Disselhorst and Delores Bruch. Her dissertation topic was on metrical psalmody. She pursued post-doctoral studies with Harald Vogel, Marianne Ploger, and William Porter. Ruiter-Feenstra participates in an ongoing artistic, scholarly, and pedagogical collaboration with the Göteborg (Sweden) Organ Art Center and the Smarano (Italy) International Organ, Clavichord, and Improvisation Academy, and performs recitals, papers, and workshops throughout North America and Europe. Ruiter-Feenstra served as Director of the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation, and leads improvisation mini-residencies and intensives in various venues.
Ruiter-Feenstra composes a capella vocal works with liturgical and world culture themes for children’s and adult choirs. She has authored articles and chapters appearing in Westfield Keyboard Perspectives, GOArt Research Reports, Tracing the Organ Masters' Secrets, De Clavicordio, The American Organist, Clavichord International, The Organ as a Mirror of Its Time, and several sacred music publications. Her CDs, entitled Franz Tunder Organ Works and Bach and Improvisation, are available from Loft Recordings/Gothic, www.loftrecordings.com. Her harpsichord CDs Bach’s Teacher Böhm and Improvisation, and Froberger on the 1658 De Zentis are available from www.fleurdeson.com. Ruiter-Feenstra’s recordings and live performances have been broadcast on Pipedreams, The Organ Loft, Swedish National Radio, and the British Broadcasting Network (BBC).