A portrait of Haniel Neves '25 posing next to a phonograph (left); Haniel cleaning records (right)
Playing to His Strengths
Haniel Neves ’25 engages with his passion for music and music history

Haniel Neves ’25 wants to explore every musical avenue Trinity University offers him. A sophomore from Spring, Texas, Neves is an organ performance major with focuses in harpsichord and piano and is very active with musical life on campus. He performs with the Trinity Chamber Singers and the Collegium Musicum ensemble, and he plays organ and piano for the Catholic Student Group. He also works for the music department and the music archives in Coates Library's Special Collections and Archives.

Over the summer, Neves continued to pursue his passion for music at Nauck's Vintage Records in Spring, Texas. Nauck’s is the world's largest and premier record auction house, auctioning off records from the 1880s to the 1960s, including 78rpm records, phonograph cylinders, and record machines of all sorts and rarities. In his job, Neves was able to get up close and personal with many of these vintage records, as he was responsible for packaging, cleaning, sorting, and organizing them for the store’s Fall catalog. 

“We auction around 20,000 records and cylinders each year of many types and genres, including jazz, blues, opera, classical, ethnic, historic speeches, etc.,” Neves says. “The amount of work that goes into producing these auctions is incredibly immense, thorough, and time-consuming—but so very rewarding.”

Haniel Neves '25 holds an early Edison brown wax cylinder from 1896 with the Edison Concert Band performing selections from the opera Il trovatore by Verdi.

At Nauck’s, Neves also had the opportunity to listen to these rare records, exploring his interest in music history in ways he never imagined were possible. He even was able to listen to and handle blues and jazz records that he had learned about in his History of Jazz class, taught by associate professor of music James Worman, Ph.D. 

“I have come across many records that I either heard in class or am able to now explain the musical elements for,” Neves says. “This job also allowed me to come across many classical recordings which are not widely heard or known today, especially those for piano and organ. Hearing these great old masters of the keyboard gave me a direct insight into the performance practices of 100+ years ago, and I am certainly grateful for this insight as a musician myself.”

Worman is not the only professor that Neves has made strong connections with at Trinity. Neves has also developed mentorships with music department chair, professor, and organ instructor David Heller, D.M.A., and piano instructor Zachary Ridgway, D.M.A., through conversations about music inside and outside the studio. 

“From talking about musical giants such as Louis Vierne and Marcel Dupré recording on historic organs in the 1920s and ’30s with my organ teacher, Dr. Heller, to discussing historic piano recordings from the ’30s by Artur Schnabel and Josef Hofmann with my piano teacher, Dr. Ridgway—these are wonderful experiences that always initiate conversations we both learn from,” Neves says.

Trinity’s unique learning environment and dedicated faculty support students as they pursue any passions they may have—even if they span multiple disciplines. “So far, Trinity has enabled me to tap into all of my interests, most of which are in music, and has given me the opportunity to actually pursue these things in the future,” Neves says. “This close-knit environment is a necessity for developing young minds.”

This is just the beginning of Neves’ musical journey at Trinity. In the future, he looks forward to providing interesting musical contributions to the Trinity community, such as an evening of phonographic entertainment for an audience on an original phonograph with actual wax cylinders, which were used in the late 1800s to early 1900s. He also plans to delve into his collection of approximately 5,000 78rpm records and 7,000 pieces of sheet music to share with the Trinity community on KRTU and through recitals. He is currently planning a recital of "Early American Parlor Music before the 1840s" for sometime early next semester, with himself at the piano, in collaboration with several other vocalists and instrumentalists.

“These next few years, I plan to be more involved in the music department through studying composition, accompanying more vocalists on the piano, joining other ensembles, and studying the organ abroad somewhere in Germany or Austria,” he says.

Emma Utzinger '24 helps tell Trinity's story as a writing intern for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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