Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra


  • Social Justice & the Organ: Storytelling, Composing, & Improvising
    911 Stewart St
    July 5 @ 8:00 am
    Want to have a voice in the issues of our time? Discover how to respond to social injustices via organ music in the context of the church, academic institution, and concert hall! Presenter Dr. Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra will offer various community-building strategies you can apply, share a sampling of her social justice-themed organ compositions, and offer a mini-improvisation lesson on a social justice theme. Musically, it’s an opportunity to celebrate diverse cultures by learning some Latin rhythms, jazz chords, and middle eastern modes. Collectively, it’s about compassion and healing: listening deeply to silenced voices, reflecting back, understanding the complex stories of each person, and collaboratively transforming those stories into music. 


Grammy-nominated performer Dr. Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra thrives as improvisation expert, award-winning composer, conductor, pedagogue, author, hymn festival director, and concert artist on antique organs, carillons, harpsichords, pianos, and clavichords throughout North America and Europe. In 2020, Ruiter-Feenstra and a team of international prize-winning journalists and filmmakers launched Collaborative Investigative Composing (CIC): where stories & music meet. With CIC, they tell underreported stories of social injustices, resilience and agency via music compositions and short film documentaries. Ruiter-Feenstra & Dutch journalist Jet Schouten co-created “Healing Bells,” a pandemic response that was concurrently premiered on six continents. Ruiter-Feenstra composed her prizewinning “Peacemakers” for carillon as an antidote to hate speech and actions. 

As Visiting Carillonist at the University of Michigan, 2019–2020, Ruiter-Feenstra initiated Global Rings in collaboration with the Carillon Studio, whom she mentored to compose and arrange works for the carillon. The goal of Global Rings, a new collection of 42 carillon works based on stories, tunes, and issues from around the world, is to lift up underrepresented voices, diversify carillon repertoire, and engage new and seasoned audiences.  Her explorations as Senior Researcher at the Göteborg Organ Art Center in Sweden culminated in her acclaimed books, Bach and the Art of Improvisation (2 vols.). She served as Professor of Music and University Organist at Eastern Michigan University and Bethany College. As a recording artist, she has recorded organ works of Tunder, Bach, Ruiter-Feenstra; harpsichord works of Froberger and Böhm; carillon works; and multiple improvisations. Author of seven books, Ruiter-Feenstra recently penned eight articles on Women in Improvisation in The American Organist. Co-chair of the Diversity & Belonging: Unsung Keyboard Stories conference co-sponsored by the University of Michigan and the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboards, she serves on four DEI committees.