Founder-Artistic Director of the Consort, Bruce Nehring has been making music in El Paso for nearly fifty years. While seeking to encourage the development of the finest in local musical resources, he has continued to bring exciting guest artists and groups from across the United States and throughout the world to El Paso.
Founder of El Paso Pro-Musica, he served as its artistic director/conductor for fifteen seasons, performing innovative concerts in the Union Depot and elsewhere. During that time he also developed the largest following of choral and chamber music in the area, introducing audiences to great choral masterpieces. While at Aspen, CO, he heard and invited the nineteen year-old piano concerto winner, Stephen Prutsman, to El Paso, who later gained international recognition after he tied fourth in the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. He, along with Prutsman, formed the first El Paso Pro-Musica Chamber Music Festival, introducing exciting young performers from around the world.
Nehring’s musical background is varied and extensive. A graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois, he continued additional study in conducting and organ performance at Northwestern, Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, Oklahoma, and Oregon universities. He was selected as a conductor under Helmuth Rilling for two summers at the Oregon Bach Festival; and the Aspen Music Festival for four seasons, studying under Dr. Fiora Contino, Dr. Margaret Hillis, Dr. Robert Fountain; in Texas with Dr. Robert T. Anderson, Dr. B.R. Henson and Dr. Lloyd Pfautsch.
He was organist/director of music at First Presbyterian Church in El Paso for ten years; director of the El Paso Boy Choir for three seasons; and founder/director of the El Paso Choir of the Southwest and El Paso Pro-Musica. He has served as organist/director of music at Ascension Lutheran Church, organist for the University Presbyterian Church, and seventeen years director of the Loretto Academy Chamber Choir in El Paso. He was organist/associate music director at Lovers Lane Methodist Church in Dallas, TX for eight years.
He served on the National Endowment for the Arts choral grants review panel for three years, and is a frequent clinician/adjudicator for choral music, church music, and organ. He has served as conductor/clinician for the El Paso Independent School District honor choir. His choirs have received universal acclaim in tours to Europe in 1974 and 1976; the northwest, Vancouver (3 performances at EXPO ’86) and Victoria, B.C.; Australia, New Zealand, 1988; and Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria in 1992. Additional concerts have been performed in Texas and New Mexico.
Professionally, he is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the American Guild of Organists, and FABM. He represents Rodgers Digital/Pipe Organs and continues to serve as a consultant in church acoustics and pipe organ design.
THE BRUCE NEHRING CONSORT had its beginnings in 1967 when Nehring arrived in El Paso to join the staff of the First Presbyterian Church as Organist/Director of Music. In addition to the usual church music groups, Nehring soon developed a large program involving singers and instrumentalists from area high schools. As the group of young people matured musically, he determined to take the El Paso Choir of the Southwest on a musical tour of Europe from El Paso (on chartered planes): 28 days in 1974, and 21 days in 1976, at such notable places as Coventry Cathedral in England, and Notre Dame and Chartes Cathedrals in France. (Several of those “young people” are still performing with the Consort.)
Since then, Nehring continued to achieve the unexpected. The group of young singers became an adult ensemble of singers ready to perform a season of concerts year round. That was El Paso Pro-Musica’s birth whose first concert was a presentation of Messiah in St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. That first audience felt their efforts to locate the church, hidden in the Lower Valley were well-rewarded. Although not easily found, that church had been chosen because it validated Nehring’s belief that music should be presented in the setting that best enhances it, a true marriage of architecture to sound.
Therefore, many of Pro-Musica’s concerts were held in churches, in spite of strong objections. Great choral literature was originally written for the church—it’s part of musical history. Secondly, there is often a lack of suitable performance space, where there is a great sounding organ, a good acoustic, and sufficient space to accommodate both singers and instrumentalists, except churches. Nehring has always believed that music should be performed in a space that enhances, awakens the ear, and entices the senses.
This belief in architectural proportions to musical sound piqued Nehring’s interest in using spaces not usually thought of as concert halls, which led to his use of the Union Depot. Those very popular Union Depot Concerts were conceptualized in music and movement fully two years before the doors first opened to the pubic’s amazement and delight.
After fifteen seasons and over 650 rehearsals and performances, relationships changed, as they often do. Charted as a not-for-profit organization, it became the Bruce Nehring Consort, El Paso’s Professional Singers and Chamber Players under the Bruce Nehring Foundation for the Performing Arts. For eighteen seasons this group has continued in the traditions of performing the finest music in the manner that El Paso audiences have come to expect from a Nehring ensemble.
At a time when there is a demise of many performance organizations, we are grateful and honored for your support. Your attendance is greatly appreciated, and our financial contributions are tax-deductible as provided by law, as are your “in-kind” contributions.