Michael Ruhling’s passion for historically informed performance of 18th century music adds to his repertoire as music director of the orchestra at Rochester Institute of Technology and his reputation as a musicologist.
The Handel and Haydn Society—the nation’s oldest performing period ensemble—has taken notice and has recently named Ruhling as the Christopher Hogwood Research Fellow for the 2008-09 season.
The fellowship is given to a scholar who researches historically informed performance (HIP). “One of the principal goals of the field of musicology is to try to uncover and, in a sense, recover 18th century conventions through HIP,” says Ruhling, associate professor of fine arts.
According to Ruhling, HIP research brings authenticity to contemporary performances of “period music.” There must be a proper combination of the understanding of period performance conditions along with the precise score. This brings to life the lively interactions that transpired between musicians and audiences during the 18th century.
Additionally, Ruhling presides over the newly formed continental organization Haydn Society of North America as the first president. He credits RIT’s College of Liberal Arts with its support of his scholarly research and his role as president of HSNA. “The College of Liberal Arts has supported my research and generously underwritten the semi-annual newsletter of the Haydn Society of North America,” he says.
According to Ruhling, music has a more prominent place at RIT than most people in the Rochester community realize. Many RIT students participate in ensembles and take music courses from performing arts faculty active in their fields of interest.
Ruhling is author of Johann Peter Salomon’s Scores of Four Haydn Symphonies: Edition with Commentary, and an essay on Michael Haydn. He has delivered several papers on the performance of 18th century orchestral music. Additionally, Ruhling teaches courses in music history and appreciation at RIT and performs with the Brighton Symphony.