MARSHALL -When he came to Southwest Minnesota State University's music department, Ryan Fox knew he was moving into a strong musical tradition.
Fox is the new choral director at Southwest Minnesota State University, taking over for Russell Svenningsen, who took a new job at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Fox's love of music started when he began taking piano lessons at age 6 when he was growing up in Greenwood, Ark. Then he moved onto other ventures.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Ryan Fox, the new director of choral activities at Southwest Minnesota State University, started playing piano at age 6. He said he likes the cooperative atmosphere at SMSU and is looking forward to bringing more quality music to the community.
"I was in my band in junior high and high school," he said. "It was a place where I found my niche in life,."
So when he went to college at the University of Central Arkansas, Fox knew he had to major in music. He got his undergraduate and master's degree there and then taught high school in Arkansas for four years. Then Fox went to the University of Kansas for his doctorate.
While he was a grad assistant there, Fox conducted the choirs, which included the women's chorale, the World Music choir that specialized in music of non-Western cultures and the Oread Singers.
"I hope to incorporate more of that type of music we do here," Fox said about the type of music the World Music choir sang.
Fox did his doctorate lecture recital research project on composer Felix Mendelssohn, focusing on the piece "3 Motets."
"It's the very last piece he wrote before he died," Fox said, adding that he tried to "unwind" it a little bit."
After he got his doctorate, Fox applied at several different universities. He was offered the job at SMSU and is really glad he came.
"It's a really great place, I love the sense of community here, both in town and at the university," Fox said. "The students, faculty, administration are very kind and generous and work well togther." He said it's important to him to be at a place where everyone gets along.
Fox said he views the choirs as a way of educating the students and as an outreach to the community. He's pleased that
"The people that have come before me have established a good choral program," Fox said. "I walked into a good tradition."
Fox said he would like to see the choral program grow at SMSU with more students participating.
"I would really like to expose the state more to the choir," he said. Fox said he wants the SMSU choir to go to high schools around the state and sing, which would recruit more students to SMSU.
"I view recruiting students like a business model," he said.
Fox also wants to focus a lot on standard choral literature with his students.
"Do quite a bit of music from the 16th and 17th century," he said. He also wants to see the choir do more major works and more in conjunction with the orchestra.
Along with the college choirs, Fox also inherited the SMSU Men's Glee Club. He said he is trying to do a broad array of music, including older music from the 16th century, such as "O Captain, My Captain."
"It's really loud and races singing," he said.
As for himself, Fox said he's not a solo performer.
"I'm primarily a conductor," he said.
Besides music, Fox said he also likes cooking and reading and the movies.
"I love movies, if I could get away with it, I would watch them all day long," Fox said.