Here’s a copy of a recent article in the La Verne Magazine about me:
by Ingrid Rodriguez
photography by Amanda Nieto
The lights come up and the audience is on their feet clapping and cheering. The 12 artists take one synchronized bow. The band, Michael Ryan and Friends, has finished yet another outstanding performance.
Musician Michael Ryan is a professor who teaches guitar at the University of La Verne and performs worldwide. He estimates that he plays for more than 70,000 people each year at concerts, restaurants and dinner theaters, often with his band, Michael Ryan and Friends. On this night he has completed his annual Irish concert “The Spirit of Ireland.” It was a full house at ULV where he and his band played 22 songs. “When the concert’s really good, the time just goes by,” Michael says, explaining that Irish music channels a range of emotions like joy, sorrow, love and loss. Some songs are rich poetry, others are fun and playful. “I feel honored to be able to produce and perform an Irish show and spread the passion and enthusiasm of the music,” Michael says. When Michael performs, he says he becomes submerged in the music and loses himself in the rhythm. “I let the music express itself through me, being like a channel for the music to come through and connect with the audience,” he says.
Michael’s love for guitar began when he was 15. He was visiting a friend whose father played classical guitar. His friend’s father suggested that Michael listen to Andrés Segovia, a famous classical Spanish guitar player. When Michael heard Segovia, he became fascinated by the myriad of sounds Segovia made with his guitar. “It was like a little orchestra,” Michael recalls, explaining that it sounded like Segovia was playing two melodies at once. This sparked Michael’s interest in the instrument, and he set off to discover it for himself.
After taking private guitar lessons during his high school years, Michael studied classical music at the University of La Verne, earning his bachelor’s degree in music in 1975. He first performed during his senior recital, where an auditorium filled with people came to hear him play solo classical guitar. “It was a real neat experience,” Michael says. “I felt like everything I played people were just absorbing.”
Throughout college, Michael also sang in ULV’s choir and chamber singers. He liked singing so much, he decided to study vocal performance at California State University, Chico, earning a master’s degree in 1979. Michael was then invited to study opera in Austria, though he declined, choosing instead to go back to his first love, guitar. “If you’re going to sing opera and make it your living, then you better love it, live and breathe it, and I didn’t feel I wanted to go that path,” he said.
But he did want to go abroad. With his guitar in hand, he played small venues in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Italy. Michael says the locals would tell him where to play, and some even invited him to play with their groups. After four months, he returned to the U.S., settled back in California, and played gigs in beach towns for the next two years. Then in 1981, he got a call from Reed Gratz, a professor of music at ULV. Gratz invited Michael to teach guitar back at his alma mater. Michael accepted and says he was honored to get the opportunity to return to ULV to teach. He has remained a fixture in the music department over the past 33 years. Michael says music classes at ULV are smaller and more personal than they are at most universities. This allows him to give students more individual attention, as he shares his love of music.
The students in Guitar Workshop sit on the stage in Morgan Auditorium. Their chairs are set up in a circle so the students can see and hear one another. Michael goes around to each student to make sure they have learned their pickings and have placed their fingers on the correct strings. Once everyone is ready, he counts them down, and they play the song together. It is out of sync in moments, but this group of beginners is focused on finding a uniform sound. “I haven’t met anyone in his class who doesn’t want to get better,” Zak Tomlinson, a freshman business administration major in the class later says. Michael is inspired by that drive. Many students who take his classes are not music majors but want to play the guitar as a hobby, or as a means of expression. Michael says he often runs into those same students years later and finds out they are still playing guitar.
The great unifier
It has been more than three decades since a young Michael Ryan packed up his guitar and embarked on a European adventure. But that post-graduate journey whet his appetite for future trips. Each summer, when classes have ended and ULV’s music rooms fall silent, he returns to Europe to play guitar in a medieval German fair. The Peter und Paul Fest has been in existence for more than 500 years and always takes place during the first week in July. For the past 10 summers, Michael and his friend Ken Soderlund have performed together at the festival, playing traditional renaissance music to crowds of concertgoers.
When the festival ends, Michael and Soderlund stay in Europe and perform at various concerts. They donate the money they earn to charities close to their hearts, though far from home. In the past, their fundraising has helped a Brazilian daycare, a German music school and a hospital in Africa. Michael believes music is a common denominator that connects people around the world. That belief is proven each summer as two American friends entertain European crowds to raise money for people on other continents.
Forty-five years after picking up his first guitar, Michael has reached many people with it. He has recorded eight albums, taught hundreds of students, and taken countless bows on stages around the world. That mysterious myriad of sounds, which first captured his imagination at 15, is still his greatest passion, and he hopes it will continue to unite the people who hear it. “Different cultures and different people who might have tension with each other can get along with music,” he says. “It cuts the barriers.”
It’s that time of year again for the Peter und Paul Festival in Bretten, Germany. I am very excited to make my voyage and engage in all of the fun activities and musical events! This year the festivities begin on July 4th and I will be staying in Germany after the festival’s end to enjoy the beauty of the country and enjoy time with my German friends. Every year, after the festival ends, I perform a concert to help raise funds for different charities, as well as, other performances in the area.
Peter und Paul Festival takes place in this small beautiful town in Germany each summer. This long-standing cultural tradition has been in place for over 500 years and I have had the pleasure of attending and performing in this medieval fair for a little over a decade. This centuries-long tradition of celebrating the town’s heritage and culture begins with the earliest of the events dating back to 1504 when the town of Bretten was successfully defended. There are an array of cultural activities in which to engage including medieval dancing instructions, and the traditional “Shepard’s Jump. Our musical group performs mostly renaissance music played and fills the air as people of all ages explore and enjoy the sights of the rich German history coming to life.
You can view the official website for Peter und Paul Fest HERE.
I am always excited for the annual Peter und Paul Festival in Bretten, Germany. This cultural experience is one to be shared and is meant for all ages. The men, women and children alike will be preparing all year long and anticipating its arrival next year… and you know I will be there!
Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest: Eine Stadt lebt ihre Geschichte
Am Wochenende nach dem kirchlichen Peter-und-Paul-Tag wird das Peter-und-Paul-Fest in Bretten gefeiert. Auf den Straßen und Gassen der Altstadt und beim historischen Festzug am Sonntag kann man das mittelalterliche Leben und Treiben miterleben.
Die drei Wurzeln dieses großartigen Abbildes der Geschichte der Stadt Bretten sind, aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, der “Schäfersprung”, der früher am 10. August, dem Tag des Laurentius, die Schäfer aus dem weiten Umland zum Wettkampf und zum gemeinsamen Feiern versammelte. Dann das “Freischießen” – die wehrhaften Bürger übten sich im Zielschießen und feierten den treffsicheren Schützenkönig. Schließlich wird der erfolgreiche Ausfall von 1504 am Vorabend vor Peter und Paul gefeiert. Philipp Schwarzerdt, der spätere Phlipp Melanchthon, hat siebenjährig die Belagerung miterlebt.
Wer die historische Aussage des Peter-und-Paul-Festes, im geschichtlichen Gewand des Markplatzes, auf den Straßen und Gassen der Altstadt mit dem mittelalterlichen Leben und Treiben, die geschichtsgetreuen Abbilder der verschiedensten Gruppen beim historischen Festzug erlebt, der fühlt sich ins Mittelalter zurückversetzt.
Die Vereinigung Alt-Brettheim e.V. hat das Fest nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg in seinen historischen Bezügen und Verankerungen wieder aufleben lassen. Die kreativen, selbständig arbeitenden Gruppen, viele, viele geschichtsbewußte Bürgerinnen und Bürger lassen jedes Jahr eine unverwechselbare Atmosphäre entstehen und begeistern viele tausend Besucher, wecken Festesfreude und lassen erleben, was weltoffener Bürgersinn vermag, wenn “eine Stadt ihre Geschichte lebt.”
German excerpt source: http://www.bretten.de/cms/node/201
In honor of the fundraising concert this Saturday, we have found a TED talk about empowering women to find their own voice and end their abuse. The talk was given by Esta Soler in December 2013 at the TED WOMEN Expo, in San Francisco, California. The event hosted many speakers who told of inventions, life experiences, and innovative ideas for peace. The very caring and selfless pioneer, Esta Soler, began her work in the 1980′s, giving victims of domestic violence a very important picture of their bruises to document the necessary evidence for a second chance at a peaceful life.
In 1994, she had a hand in passing the Violence Against Women Act which helped to change the views toward domestic abuse and the penalties for sexual offenders and abusers of women. The Violence Against Women Act was amended and reauthorized in 2013. You can CLICK HERE to read more about the history and legislation of the Violence Against Women Act.
Esta Soler and her relentless effort to bring the unspeakable to the forefront has aided in making an incredible difference for women and children throughout the entire country. She is still pushing forward and continuing to incite positive change and inspiring others to become involved in helping women and children to heal and to see economic empowerment.
The House of Ruth Fundraising Concert, “Songs from the Heart”, will take place at the University of La Verne. You can click here to RSVP and purchase your tickets.
Every person deserves to live a life free from violence. Home is the place we think of as our sanctuary, free from the worries and dangers of the world. Imagine not feeling safe in your own home. Imagine fearing abuse from those living in your home. Where is shelter when someone does not feel safe and protected? How does someone who has been abused and victimized learn to rebuild their life and the lives of their children?
Living in an abusive home does not allow for love, creativity, or growth because the priority is keeping yourself and your children safe from harm. House of Ruth is a safe haven for those who have been victimized by domestic violence and affords them a sanctuary where they can build a new life free from abuse and fear.
The first step in freedom from abuse is safety. The first stop for those seeking help at House of Ruth is the Emergency Shelter. Here the staff provides safety, comfort, understanding and advocacy. But House of Ruth does not stop at providing safety. Other services offered include Transitional Living, Children’s Programs, Counseling, Community Services, Prevention and Outreach.
When interviewed in “Community Cares,” House of Ruth’s Director of Development, Pat Bell, describes the basics of this extraordinary organization:
“House of Ruth is a domestic violence agency that serves San Bernadino County and Los Angeles County. We’ve been in place for about 35 years and we provide a broad range of services that assist people that have experienced domestic violence within their household and we help them on their journey to escape and healing.”
Pat then goes on to describe how a situation of domestic violence can occur and worsen and how victims of abuse struggle to get help. More of this interview can be heard on the House of Ruth main website.
Since its humble beginnings 36 years ago as a 24-hour hotline which operated around a kitchen table of a female Claremont Graduate University student, House of Ruth’s mission has been to advocate for and assist women victimized by domestic violence and children exposed to violence in transforming their lives by providing culturally competent shelter, programs, opportunities and education. In the past year, House of Ruth served a total of 25,765 people through various programs and services which include, but are not limited to, an Emergency Shelter and Transitional Shelter, a Child Abuse Treatment Program, and a 24-hour Emergency Hotline, and prevention and community education.
We are proud to perform a fundraising concert aptly named “Songs From the Heart,” which will take place on Saturday, June 7th at University of La Verne. The evening will include the concert promoting songs of strength, love and courage followed by a champagne reception where you will be able to meet the members of Michael Ryan and Friends, as well as staff and board members of House of Ruth. We encourage your attendance to this empowering event to help raise money and make more resources available to the families who need them most.
Click hereto RSVP and purchase your tickets.
Michael Ryan & Friends
“Songs from the Heart”
Concert & Reception
julian johnson, ken söderlund, hai muradian
michael ryan, martie echito, danny oberbeck, dylan oberbeck
Dedicated to the House of Ruth
Assistance for women, children and families with limited resources and
great need to heal from traumatic abuse.
Saturday, June 7th at 7:30 pm
University of La Verne, Morgan Auditorium
1950 3rd St., La Verne
$25 (concert only)
$50 (concert & reception)
Call House of Ruth at (909) 623-4364, Ext. 6054
Purchase Your Ticket Online Now