Pianist Barron Ryan kicked off the release of his debut album, Classical with Attitude, with style and aplomb last Friday, March 8. A sold-out audience converged on Foolish Things Coffee Company in Tulsa, OK to witness this emerging artist perform almost the entirety of his new CD, which features concert music infused with jazz or ragtime music.
The event embodied Ryan’s ‘Classic Meets Cool’ persona for an experience that was hip yet retained traditional roots. “I wanted to continue the theme of Classical with Attitude by having a solo piano recital in an unconventional and edgy space,” the pianist said. “Foolish Things was the perfect place for the release party, because it has this modern, urban vibe that juxtaposed wonderfully with an acoustic piano performance.”
The effect was not lost on those in attendance, who raved not just about the impressive skill of the performer, but also about Ryan’s ability to engage the relatively young audience with classical music. “I’m not a music connoisseur, but it was still so fun and enjoyable, and he made me feel like I could enter this world of classical music,” remarked Becca Egger, a high school English teacher who traveled from Texas for the event.
The evening began with a short reception, but the main event was the nearly hour-long concert by Ryan, who delighted the audience equally with his technical prowess, apparent love of the music, and comfortable audience rapport. The pianist was just as much at ease in front of the microphone as he was at the piano, delivering one perfectly timed joke after another. At one point, he playfully admonished the crowd for a lengthy applause, quipping “Okay, we don’t want to be here all night.”
The attendees demonstrated their enthusiasm for the concert with two standing ovations, then when the program finished, could have the artist sign their newly-purchased CDs. The performance’s excitement proved infectious, as partygoers staying long after the designated ending time.
Barron Ryan’s Classical with Attitude album release event proved several things. For one, classical music is still alive and well, and can find new, young audiences if presented compellingly. Even in a world of flashy, highly-produced music, there’s still no substitute for the inspiration that comes from witnessing sheer mastery of a craft. And lastly, ‘classic’ can meet ‘cool.’ Barron Ryan showed that.