January Artist Spotlight: Music Director Anita Ruth

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Hi Anita, thanks so much for taking a break from all the projects you're working on to tell us a little about what your background and what your art form is. 

I am a musician, pianist and conductor, who works mainly in the theater as a music director. As a student I took piano lessons and played in band and orchestra. I started at the U of M as a music major, but switched to humanities.

When did you first become interested in music and theater? How did it happen? Who were some of your influences?

My grandmother was a concert pianist and I was supposed to follow in her footsteps. Fortunately musical theater got in the way at a young age. When I was 16 my first Broadway show was the Sound of Music with Mary Martin. That was when I knew what I wanted to do.

 Anita with T. Mychael Rambo

Anita with T. Mychael Rambo

You perform with a number of groups including with T. Mychael Rambo and PolkSol! What are the benefits for you of working with a variety of people?

 PolkaSol

PolkaSol

T. Mychael is the person who introduced me to being a teaching artist. I cannot think of a better person to partner with and learn from. He has been a huge influence in my life. PolkaSol is a group Joan Griffith, Ann Reed and I have for fun, and to give back. Also to keep your brain alive - no one can play their original instrument in this group! We spend a lot of time entertaining senior citizens. Everyone you work with brings something new to think about and absorb.

Do you ever still get nervous before a performance? How do you deal with that?

No, I have been fortunate enough to not get nervous. I always tell the singers to keep breathing - which is something that can calm you down. Also to remember that everyone is there to support you, not pull you down.

What do you get out of teaching versus creating your own work? What do you hope participants of your programs learn?

Teaching is so incredible because the students have so much to give the teacher. I hope the participants of the programs I am involved in learn that they are enough. That they are worthwhile, and deserve to do well.

What do you see as the benefits of working in Minnesota’s art community?

Minnesota’s art community is a family. The support that one receives from being a part of it is so grounding and stabilizing.

 Have you been working on any new projects lately?

I am always doing new shows. Right now I am gearing up for the concert presentation of Candide at Artistry.

You have been on the COMPAS roster for several years now. What’s it been like to be a part of COMPAS?

I love being a part of COMPAS. COMPAS provides many opportunities to reach diverse communities and hear the stories of many people.

How do you practice creativity in your everyday life?

Just working and being an artist is being creative. One is always looking for a better way to communicate artistic ideas and reach higher goals in your presentations.