Music with Minnesotans: Ryan Shipley

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
November 28, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ryan Shipley and I sat on a panel together at St. Olaf this past fall. The day-long conference was called "Making it in the Arts." He shared a story about coming to St. Olaf with big dreams of being a singer, but a major in music was out of the question. Ryan doesn't read music.

He migrated to English and then to theatre and found his voice on stage.

But life in theatre was tough because even as a talented and eager and hard-working studnet, he sometimes found himself the third understudy. Life in that world seemed risky at best.

Your journey has molded you for your greater good and it was exactly what it needed to be.
- Asha Tyson

After he left school one of his mentors asked him, "What do you want?" It's a question not many of us get asked. Usually it's "What can you do for me?"

Ryan found the simpple asking of the question in itself interesting. What would the world be like - for non music-reading theatre majors or anyone for that matter - if we asked more what people wanted.

This question led him to an unusual job he had never considered, let alone even knew existed - as a classroom facilitator for Project Success, a youth development organization that helps nearly 12,000 students each year in the Twin Cities.

Ryan visits the kids where they live - in school - and helps them find their dreams and reach for them through games, workshops, and even through seeing live theatre.

Ryan tells me that his theme-song as he walks into these classes would be Taco's version of "Puttin' on the Ritz." Full of energy, friendly and also very focused, Ryan has a dramatic playlist full of vitality.

Ryan Shipley's playlist:

Leonard Bernstein, Overture to "Candide" - Bernstein/NY Philharmonic

Astor Piazzolla, Four Seasons of Buenos Aires: Otono - Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg/New Century Chamber Orchestra

Sergei Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 2: Moderato - Helene Grimaud/Royal Philharmonic

Next week, we have to grab this multi-tasker in between dress rehearsals, last-minute fittings, set changes and a million details for this year's "Nutcracker," but Artistic Director of the Minnesota Ballet, Robert Gardner, has such beautiful, danceable music on his playlist, we made it work!

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  • The Nutcracker: Chinese Dance 4:56 Peter Tchaikovsky
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  • O Christmas Tree 4:56 Traditional
    RCA Victor Singers
    Richard Westenburg
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