Music professor has organ composition premiered at Galloway United Methodist

Dr. David Mahloch, music professor at JSU, has been a composer for 20 years and finds inspiration in the works of Bach. (Photo special to JSU)

Dr. David Mahloch, music professor at JSU, has been a composer for 20 years and finds inspiration in the works of Bach. (Photo special to JSU)

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Dr. David Mahloch, music professor in the College of Liberal Arts at Jackson State University, had his composition “Fantasia and Fugue” for organ premiered during a live concert at noon on June 14 at Galloway United Methodist Church.

The hour-long concert featured Dr. Bob Knupp, professional organist, and was televised on WAPT16 and live-streamed nationally.

Initially scheduled for the Washington National Cathedral, the concert, like many events, was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, whether in a cathedral or church, Mahloch, who has crafted an estimated 40 compositions to date, is pleased that his work was showcased.

“Dr. Knupp is a fantastic organist. When I composed this piece, it was really the 20th anniversary of me being a composer. I wanted to do a large-scale work for the organ to celebrate,” said Mahloch, a former student of Knupp, who is a music professor at Mississippi College, where Mahloch received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music.

Taking three months to complete, the composition, Mahloch explained, mimics Johann Sebastian Bach, the famed German composer and musician of the Baroque period, whom he discovered at the age of 17 in his mother’s record collection.

“I wanted to pay homage and respect to the guy who lived 200 years before me,” he shared. “I mean everything I listened to of his I just loved and really enjoyed. It just really made me appreciate the art.”

After learning of an opening at JSU, Mahloch joined the university’s music department in 2012 after teaching at the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

“It was Dr. Knupp who actually referred me for the position,” he shared, adding that it has been an absolute pleasure being at Jackson State. Mahloch said that he really appreciates the culture at JSU. “It’s been a great experience working with everyone here from the music department to other individuals throughout the campus.”

Knupp, who served as Mahloch’s organ teacher at Mississippi College, has premiered other works of his former student. Both professors stress the importance of mentorship in music and other industries.

“I think that when musicians work together in teaching and learning, there’s a mutual respect that forms and a connection through the music and outside of it also. Musical training emphasizes one-on-one mentorship, I suppose,” said Knupp.

Music is art – a theory that Mahloch said he tries to instill in his students. “Really show your true colors as a musician. Show who you are and truly try to capture the listener’s ear because there is something about music that transcends the notes on the page,” he explained.

The professor pointed out that one of the great things about music is its ability to boost moods, cause reflection or change the energy of any situation.

“Probably now more than ever, I’m sure music is really playing a therapeutic role for many. So, I like to tell my students, when they’re performing, channel the piece that changed your life,” he said. “Because for me, it was a record in my mom’s box. So, I tell them they could really change a person’s life, so be true to yourself, express yourself, and shoot for an audience that’s really going to appreciate it.”