Spotlight on Ivy Ringel

Originally from Hillsborough, North Carolina, where she studied bassoon with Michael Burns (professor at UNC-Greensboro), Ivy Ringel joins us as Principal Bassoon this September. Ivy is also a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Rice University, where she studied with John Hunt and Benjamin Kamins, respectively.

Notably, Ivy joins us after a year playing Principal Bassoon in the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, the same position held previously by another bassoonist in our section, Mike Muszynski. 

How did you end up playing Bassoon, of all things?

I started playing music at age 5 as a violinist. When I was 11, I went to a school without a strings program, so I joined the band, playing clarinet for a semester. When I threatened to quit, my band director handed me a bassoon case, and it stuck.

Can you tell us about the local history to your current instrument?

My bassoon was originally shipped to Vienna, but somehow ended up in an estate sale here in the Midwest US. Local bassoon repairman Paul Nordby fixed it up and I purchased it from him about two years ago. It’s amazing to get to perform in the city my bassoon has spent so much time in! 

Do you have a favorite piece of music?

This is a tough one, but my favorite piece of music currently has to be Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. I love the colors Barber creates with the orchestra, as well as the raw expressive power of the music. For me, every time I hear this piece, I am reminded of why I became a musician and what an incredible power music has to touch others. 

Do you have a favorite memory of something that happened on stage?

I recently had an opportunity to perform Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck with Des Moines Metro Opera this summer. Wozzeck is a very dark, complex and otherworldly show with immensely challenging and evocative music, both from the orchestra and the singers. It is the sort of opera that as a professional musician you might perform once in your entire career, and the entire orchestra and company had given the show their all.

There are times as an artist where putting yourself into a project completely renders you incredibly vulnerable – this was one of those occasions. I vividly remember a moment when the show ended where the audience was silent, and I thought the worst. Seconds later, the audience burst into a standing ovation, and I knew that the show had resonated with them just as it had resonated with us. 

What’s something that people might not know about you?

I am a triplet. I have two dear brothers, Evan and Lowell, who are both jazz musicians. For fun, we recorded an album of original music last year. Here is a link to our Bandcamp page if you’d like to listen!