Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jonathan Ryan shares music for the King of Instruments

The Lincoln Organ Showcase is presenting the first of its organ concert series with Jonathan Ryan in recital. Jonathan Ryan is a young organist who holds the distinction of having been honored with six First Prize awards at major international and national competitions. His performance in Lincoln will take place at 7:30, Monday, September 19, in Wesleyan’s O’Donnell Auditorium, tickets are $15 regular, and $10 for seniors.
He has agreed to share some of his personal experiences, memories, and inspirations with Lincoln readers in preparation for this recital and said that one of his most gratifying experiences comes when “I sense that an audience, regardless of its size, is moved by the music. It inspires me both during the performance and also afterward when I continue practicing and preparing for other concerts.”
Where it started
At 8 years old, Ryan was “captivated” by one of the largest organs in the country being installed in his hometown of Charlotte, NC. “There were so many different sounds from the instrument and a complex, intriguing console with more buttons, lights, switches, and dials than I could count.” After attending the inaugural concert on that organ, “I was absolutely hooked. The rest is history!”
In preparing for recitals like Monday’s recital in Lincoln, Ryan considers the uniqueness of each instrument in its own acoustical environment. “After that, my first consideration is the audience: I spend as much time as it takes to create a program that is enjoyable, substantial, architecturally sound, and fitting.” He also takes into account cultural and contemporary life elements, “sometimes certain pieces seem to speak in a needed way at certain times.”
In preparation for competitions, particularly the Jordan II International Organ Competition, Ryan had this to share: “It was the most intense preparation in my life! For the 14 months prior to the last two rounds of the competition, my first professional/musical priority was preparing for the competition...this kind of focus was absolutely necessary. While it was a tremendous challenge I enjoyed, I won't lie: I have never been stretched so far as a musician as in that competition. “
Some of his preparation for the competition involved learning about the music, composers, and styles, recording himself, conducting from his scores, and coaching, as well as playing many recitals of his repertoire.
Favorite Memories and Experiences
Besides the inspiration that Ryan receives every time that he can sense that the audience is moved by his performance, he holds dear memories of certain places that he has been able to perform. Having just finished his debut concert tour of Germany, he remembers meeting many wonderful people and performing in wonderful spaces “perhaps the most memorable of which was the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, where J.S. Bach spent many years making music.” Back in the states, a wonderful space that Ryan played at was the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, CA. “The beauty of the Bay Area was equaled by the stunning acoustics of the new cathedral and its remarkable architecture.”
The Recital in Lincoln
Besides the wonderful programming that Ryan will bring to his Lincoln audience, he will also provide program notes that will “help guide the audience through the music.” Ryan’s hopes for Lincoln’s audience on Monday night are that “although different people respond differently to the same experience, I hope that everyone has an enjoyable evening, hear something they've never heard before, are led to think and contemplate, and hopefully are moved and inspired. I love playing concerts because I love giving. I'm truly delighted to have the opportunity this Monday, and I hope it will indeed be an occasion for us all to share and enjoy music by great composers for the King of Instruments.”
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