Ensemble performs with zest and romance
March 8, 2002
by Anna Roy
An evening of romance and intimacy was delivered as Michael Ryan and
his multi-talented ensemble of friends played concerts both Friday and Saturday
night in Dailey Theatre.
"With putting the concert together, I wanted to perform with these
talented musicians," said Ryan, a University of La Verne part-time
professor of guitar. "We played a variety of music, including a lot
of world music, so everyone related to something."
Ryan, who is also a nationally known guitarist, songwriter and vocalist
had the idea to put together the concert last summer.
"Most of the musicians have performed together in other situations
so everybody knows everybody," said Steve Biondo, who also performed
percussion that night.
Friday night, the venue was full of music fans. One couple in particular
flew in from Wisconsin. The set went a little over an hour and a half and
featured songs written by Ryan himself, as well as friends of his and other
"Michael Ryan has the ability to captivate the audience by his
mere presence, but once he starts playing he brings everybody in the room
to a higher level of energy," said senior theater major David Rojas
who is also a former student of Ryan's.
The concert began with a song written by ULV professor Steve Kinzie,
who shared with the audience his tremendous vocal talents as a back-up singer,
as well as Tracie Governatori, also a ULV employee and Ryan himself. The
song "I Love You" set the tone for the evening, as one of melody
with classical guitar.
Throughout the night, Ryan continually addressed the audience candidly
and praise his fellow musicians good-naturedly, much to the audience's delight.
Ryan was well accompanied, with percussionist Ron Powell, who left the
audience in awe with his charismatic and sudden improvisational performance.
In the middle of "Brazilian Rain," Powell began to balance a tambourine
down his arms and body while at the same time
letting the audience in on the fun by giving them a rain stick and some
noise makers. The sounds that evolved were earthy and soothing.
Rain was the subject of several songs, with Ryan and friends performing
both "Brazilian Rain" and "The Rain is A- Fallin'."
Love, the other main ingredient for the night, was in the air with Ryan
performing solo his own rendition of a Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel
My Love" following the intermission. One light beamed upon Ryan and
his treasured guitar during the performance.
The audience particularly enjoyed some of the Latin-themed songs of
the evening. The first song was off the "Mission: Impossible 2"
soundtrack and featured traditional clapping under a red backdrop to add
to the ambiance.
Ryan's ability to swiftly strum each intricate chord during this entirely
instrumental song was amazing. His hands perfectly moved with the sounds.
"Kind of a crazy tune," Ryan commented to the audience afterwards
with a smile.
The concert, geared towards a mature crowd, also featured a classical
and passionate Spanish style song, "Magalena," which helped to
clearly demonstrate Ryan's beautiful ability to play classical guitar.
All of the musicians' talents were evident, as indicated by their ability
to make the switch from genre to genre.
The concert featured blues, Spanish, country and Calypso. It ended with
a catchy and nostalgic Calypso inspired song, "Easy Come, Easy Go",
that left the audience begging for an encore. Ryan gladly obliged.
The concert was a good example of what the music experience should be
about: song-writing, sharing, encouraging and performing songs together
with a friendly
camaraderie of sorts. Also performing that night were guitarist Ken
Sunderland, who was a solid right-hand man to Ryan throughout the entire
concert, as well as the talented ULV professor of music Reed Gratz on synthesizer
piano. Governatori, as mentioned above, performed vocals, Hai Muradian on
flute, Mark Bollinger of the Candlelight Pavilion also on guitar and Sam
Graham on harmonica.
The visible collaboration of University of La Verne staff and faculty
members on this night of eclectic music proved a success.