Department: Music

Gift connects KC Symphony and Emporia State music department

April 13, 2015

Advanced music students at Emporia State University will have an opportunity to learn from master musicians because of the generosity of former Emporians Dr. Fred and Paula Neuer.

The Emporia State University Foundation and the Department of Music this month announced that the inaugural Kansas City Symphony Master Class Series will be held on Monday, April 27. The series will feature Kansas City Symphony Master Artists, with K.C. Symphony Concertmaster and Miller Nichols Chair Noah Geller scheduled to lead the first class and perform in recital. The inaugural master class will honor Emporians Dr. Gould and Nancy Garcia.

The Garcias’ daughter, Mary Garcia, is scheduled tentatively to lead the next master class in the fall of this year. Mary Garcia, an Emporia native, is second violinist for the K.C. Symphony.

Along with both master classes led by Noah Geller, there will be a recital and a reception later that evening. The recital begins at 5:15 p.m. at Beach Music Hall, with the community reception immediately following at 6:00 p.m. in the Beach Hall Rotunda. The campus and community are encouraged to attend part or all of the complimentary events offered.

“We highly value the strong ties Paula and Fred Neuer continue to nurture with our university and our city,” said Emporia State President Michael D. Shonrock. “We’re grateful they’ve remembered us with another generous gift to the music department, and looking forward to their return to campus for the master class.”

The Neuers, who moved from Emporia to the Kansas City area in 2011 to be closer to children and grandchildren, have retained ties to the city and to the university that for so many years had been home.

Their love for music led them to establish a music scholarship in Paula Neuer’s name in 2000.

Now, they have established a new fund to bring Kansas City Symphony professional musicians to the university to conduct master classes for students, as well as recitals and workshops for students, faculty, and community members from around the region. The Emporia State University Foundation is currently accepting gifts to fund future Kansas City Symphony Master Classes. “I’m grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Neuer for their vision to link the Kansas City Symphony and Emporia State University,” said DenaSue Potestio, foundation president at ESU. “Our goal is to attract students from around the region to attend the master classes, as well as new donors who share the Neuer’s vision to unite master artists with aspiring students,” she continued. “We’d like to sustain the series well into the future.”

Fred Neuer explained some of the reasoning behind the gift and its dedication to the Garcias.

“We appreciate the influence and friendship of the late Don Glaser, who was a supporter of the arts,” Neuer said of Glaser, an Emporia inventor and entrepreneur who was a co-founder of Didde-Glaser and, later, founder of Glendo Corp.

The Neuers have found a way to express more than 30 years of appreciation for the numerous concerts and special events they attended while living here.

“Who was there supporting it? Gould and Nancy Garcia,” Neuer said. “Those folks were patrons of the arts, and this is just a small way to thank them for what they did.

“In small communities, it is important to have that quality of life. To me, they were just natural people to be recognized. They’ve always done a lot, but kind of kept in the background. ... They’re just good, solid people.”

Neuer said the Master Class series will give Emporia State students opportunities to see what professional musicians do, and what they have to strive for to reach that level of performance. The professionals, too, will have opportunities to help young people improve.

Neuer said that other regional universities, such as Kansas University and Washburn, are welcome to bring students to attend the classes here.

A master class is a seminar by a master musician for advanced music students, where teaching and learning takes place in public. Students and audience members will be able to explore and benefit from several different educational and artistic approaches.

Arrangements for the master classes are being made by Dr. Allan Comstock, music department chair, and Dr. Jeremy Starr, director of orchestras and associate professor of violin and viola.

The classes will be free of charge because the Neuers have underwritten the costs. The master class this month will be for both chamber orchestra and solo violinists.

“It’s really fantastic. I’m thrilled they did that,” said Dr. Jeremy Starr, director of orchestras and associate professor of violin and viola. “... It’s very significant, the fact that all of that has been taken care of by the generosity of the Neuers. It’s good for people to know that this does not happen just randomly. It came from some people making a sacrifice and legitimately putting time and investment into this.”

Violinist Geller has won numerous competitions and prizes, performing throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He became concertmaster in 2012, frequently appears as soloist with the Symphony, and, because of his enthusiasm for education, also is an adjunct associate professor of violin at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Before coming to Kansas City, Geller had been a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Geller said he had decided at the age of 14 to become a professional musician, but had chosen his instrument long before.

“I chose the violin at the age of 5, without the knowledge of the tremendous amount of work it would take to make it sound good,” Geller is quoted as saying.

Without a doubt, the years of effort perfecting his performance have brought recognition and reward, both personally and professionally.

An active chamber musician, Geller has performed at the Marlboro, Kingston, Saratoga, Heartland and Taos festivals and has appeared on the Lyon and Healy, Dolce Suono, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Lyric Chamber Music Society series, among others.

Geller also is an original member of Shir Ami, an ensemble dedicated to the music of composers whose lives were adversely affected by the Holocaust.

He is a laureate of the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, received top prizes at the Corpus Christi International Competition, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Neal-Silva Young Artists’ Competition and the Music Academy of the West Concerto Competition. He received the Jules C. Reiner violin prize after performances at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

Geller received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Julliard School, where he studied with Hyo Kan, Donald Weilerstein and Cho-Liang Lin. Audio of Geller’s performance on a violin made circa 1840 by Andreas Postacchini may be heard at https://www.kcsymphony.org/musicians/noah_geller.

The schedule on March 27 is: Chamber Orchestra Master Class rehearsal, 2-3 p.m., Choir Room 132, Beach Music Hall; violin master class, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Heath Recital Hall in Beach; Geller recital, 5:15-6 p.m., Heath Recital Hall; and reception, 6-6:30 p.m., Beach Music Hall rotunda.