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Sioux City Conductor Breaks Classical Music Stereotype

Conductor+Ryan+Haskins+talks+to+South+Sioux+City+College+Center+students.
Conductor Ryan Haskins talks to South Sioux City College Center students.

Conductor Ryan Haskins talks to South Sioux City College Center students.

Conductor Ryan Haskins talks to South Sioux City College Center students.

Sioux City Symphony Orchestra

Viewpoint Staff

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Conductor Ryan Haskins is out to change young people’s perception of classical music. The Cleveland native spoke to South Sioux College Center students in Amanda Vande Zande’s Music in Western Culture class on Tuesday, April 22, preceding their trip to the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra on April 26, 2014.

Haskins talked to the class about how classical music is changing. When he was traveling abroad and living in England and Wales, Haskins learned that not only is orchestra music changing, but orchestra performances as well. He has been broadening the musical horizons for the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra since he was hired in 2009.

He told students about Saturday’s concert and the unique blend of electronica and classical music and also the use of non-traditional instruments like a typewriter and a broom.  He says music is constantly changing and evolving but it is still the core of what composers such as Schubert and Beethoven created.

That is why he works so much with young people to foster interest in listening to all types of music and playing an instrument. Haskins says he never tries to force an interest in classical music but his goal is to get people to appreciate and understand why classical music is important.

Conductor Ryan Haskins speaking to Music in Western Culture students at the College Center

Conductor Ryan Haskins speaking to Music in Western Culture students at the College Center

Vande Zande has taken her music students to the symphony for three years but this is the first time Haskins has been able to speak to the class.  She wants them to have the concert experience because many of them have never attended the symphony. “A lot of it goes back to having that well rounded college experience, that cultural experience, to have students experience new things.  A lot of times they end up liking something that they would have thought they disliked. It opens new doors for them and they may pursue a different interest in something because of a class.  Or it might change a stereotypical thought they had of classical music because of this class,” Vande Zande said.

AmandaVandeZande

Music in Western Culture instructor Amanda Vande Zande introduces Conductor Ryan Haskins

As for her students, Haskins had them engaged, laughing and asking questions throughout his presentation as he talked about the life of a traveling conductor, a career as a musician, and his excitement over the future of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra.

Haskins2

Haskins1

Sioux City Symphony Orchestra Conductor Ryan Haskins

Their Saturday concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City is called Bates & Bartok and will feature composer and DJ, Mason Bates performing the B-Sides for Orchestra and Electronica. The orchestra will also perform works by Bartok and Szymanowski. The audience will get a chance to visit with Bates and Haskins during a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m.

HaskinsBatesStudentquestionHaskins

Haskins wants people to come out of a concert changed, to have experienced the music and to leave with a new appreciation.  He used his brothers as examples for the students. Haskins had music in his family and his parents encouraged their sons to play instruments. He started violin lessons at age 3 and played piano at 7. “Everyone played an instrument in the family band,” Haskins said. His brothers, one a retired U.S. Army Ranger, now a crop duster and the other a professional hockey player, still have an appreciation for classical music despite their varied career paths.

Viewpoint Editor in Chief Lizz Cornett interviews Conductor Ryan Haskins

Viewpoint Editor in Chief Lizz Cornett interviews Conductor Ryan Haskins

Haskins is passionate about promoting new ways to present classical music to young people and has advice for those thinking about a career as a musician or a conductor.  “Never limit yourself. I think in school there are so many rules about so many different things. As a young person all of these beginning stages are not necessarily learning about the fundamentals which is important, but the other aspect is to learn extremes as well, to kind of push the barrier and to realize what’s important, what works and what doesn’t.  Because as a student, as a young person, that’s the time to do it.” He also says it is critical that orchestras perform the music of today’s young composers like Mason Bates. “If there aren’t orchestras who are developing and who are performing composers of today … you know, if that happened back during the time of Beethoven, his music wouldn’t be surviving today.”

Sioux City Symphony Orchestra Conductor Ryan Haskins answers questions from students

Sioux City Symphony Orchestra Conductor Ryan Haskins answers questions from students

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Sioux City Conductor Breaks Classical Music Stereotype