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Article Published: 02 Jul 2020

Voices from the Field: Ryan McKinny

Ryan McKinny
Ryan McKinny (photo: Simon Pauly)


McKinny has been using his pandemic hiatus to produce a series of YouTube videos, Keep the Music Going, collaborating with colleagues like Jamie Barton, J’Nai Bridges, and Isabel Leonard, along with a virtual chorus of 28 to sing Sondheim’s “No One is Alone.”

I’d been tracking the coronavirus story since January. I soon thought, “This could be a big thing. We might not work for a while. What do I do if I get shut down?” I’m not the kind of person who’s good at sitting around and waiting. I borrowed some film equipment; I got filmmakers and actors and singers together. I think of Keep the Music Going as a kind of sandbox, experimenting with things we could do in the future. Opera companies have thought about film and video as a marketing tool; now we all have to be film producers and online content providers. The film has to be the art itself, not just a marketing tool.

When the pandemic hit, some people wanted to not make art in general. Personally, I never felt like stopping, and I’ve ended up way busier than ever before. It’s funny working so hard — with no job!

This article was published in the Summer 2020 issue of Opera America Magazine.