B i o g r a p h y
Critics hail pianist Rich Ridenour as amazingly versatile, masterfully musical and wickedly funny. Mr. Ridenour established his career performing his own musical arrangements of classical masterworks and today’s popular piano favourites. With hundreds of engagements to his credit, Mr. Ridenour has recently performed with the orchestras of Indianapolis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Topeka, Harrisburg, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Charleston, West Virginia, Elgin, Owensboro, Mazatlan, Mexico and the Bravissimo Festival Orchestra of Guatemala City. Each season Mr. Ridenour serves as pops director for the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Ridenour has collaborated with renowned performers such as Martin Short, Carol Lawrence, Robert Guillaume, Smokey Robinson, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), Larry Gatlin, David Ogden Stiers, Jim Nabors, Richard Hayman and Jennifer Holiday. He is frequently heard with his son Brandon Ridenour who played trumpet for 8 years with Canadian Brass.
Mr. Ridenour has created over 50 recordings. Most notable are a two disc set he developed with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra called Piano Pop that feature arrangements of Billy Joel, Elton John, Vince Guaraldi, Richard Addinsell plus George Gershwin’s two Rhapsodies. Mr. Ridenour has collaborated on CDs with Patrick Sheridan (tuba), vocalists Linn Maxwell Keller, Diane Penning, Kathy Wagner, violinists Barry Ross and Steve Brook, the Richmond Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, West Shore Symphony, Sheboygan Symphony and a two set disc called Trumpet Invasion and Encores with Brandon Ridenour.
A lifelong passion has been music education. As Education Director for the International Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Mr. Ridenour conceived and developed Camp Gilmore at Sherman Lake YMCA, Keys Fest and educational piano labs in the public schools and juvenile center (working with day treatment and lock up youth). Mr. Ridenour taught in all these programs that today are a part of the Festival’s year long programs offered to young musicians to explore and grow in music. Mr. Ridenour also created two student shows for the Gilmore Festival: Invention Mania and the Piano Student of Mrs. McCalfrey.
Mr. Ridenour also founded the non-profit organization Grand Rapids Musicians League serving over 400 young musicians in after school programs. Affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs, GRML provides student scholarships to music camps and musical programs to enrich young musicians in the greater Grand Rapids area. As a component of GRML the Keller Cooler Music Series was launched at the Meijer Botanical Gardens. This series inspired Fred and Lena Meijer to build an amphitheatre which led to the Fifth Third Bank Summer Music Series.
Many of Mr. Ridenour’s students have succeeded in musical careers while others have instilled a lifelong pleasure in music. Working with Education for the Arts in Kalamazoo, Mr. Ridenour developed Music for Life giving high school musicians an after school opportunity to explore disciplines in all styles of music. This included work in music theory, history, composition, performance, computer music arranging programs and video capture/editing. Mr. Ridenour has also instructed piano at Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Calvin College and Western Michigan University.
In 2011 Mr. Ridenour co-introduced City Keys to the city of Jacksonville, Florida. Six upright pianos painted by area professional artists brought energy to the downtown sidewalks for everyone to play and explore. In 2014, Mr. Ridenour worked as an advisor with the Sarasota Arts Alliance where currently 11 painted pianos grace the community for people to explore.
Since 2013, Sarasota has been home for Rich and his wife Stacy, who serves as development director for the Sarasota Opera. Rich and Stacy have two children. Brandon is a professional trumpet player and Ross is a Chief Captain for Air Wisconsin serving United Airlines.
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mr. Ridenour received a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Mr. Ridenour is an international Steinway Artist.