All in the family

Father and son musicians, Donald and Barron Ryan, work and play well together.



Barron and Donald Ryan recently released their latest CD, “Face to Face.”

Most Tulsans are familiar with professional local pianist Donald Ryan who has entertained area audiences at concerts and fundraisers, on national and international tours, as well as through his 11 CDs. For the past four years, Donald and his son, Barron, a music graduate of the University of Oklahoma, have teamed up as a popular father/son piano duo. Recently, TulsaPeople caught up with both men to learn more about their latest CD (“Face to Face,” recorded on the Tulsa Community College southeast campus), their concerts, and how they choose the music they play for their audiences.

Donald, whose idea was it for you and Barron to become a performing father/son duo, and when did you begin performing together?

I think it was (my wife) Sharon’s and mine. Barron and I had done the dedicatory performance of Holland Hall’s Steinway concert grand during his junior year, and a Brown Bag It performance at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center during his freshman year at OU. So while he was at college, we broached the idea.

Barron, was your father your first piano instructor? Have you always wanted to follow his career or did you have other aspirations?

Dad was my first piano instructor, and for 13 years, he was my only one.

I always liked performing, but for a long time waffled between other options, from a chef (that was from my younger days) to an engineer (that was when I heard how much money Bill Gates made). During my junior year of high school, I realized how much I loved playing music, and decided to pursue it more seriously. I haven’t looked back since.

Have you been touring lately, or are you planning any tours for the near future? Do you have an agent?

DR: We have not been out of town since early this year. In the fall we’ll play in Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois. No agent yet, but we do have a concert manager who handles our bookings.

BR: We haven’t been touring in the sense of playing several concerts without returning home, but have had several individual concerts we’ve traveled to perform. This year we’ll be traveling more than ever, and have engagements scheduled in five different Midwestern states. We’re steadily working to build our audience through participating in area performing arts conferences, and are enjoying strong success in that effort.

Tell us about your CDs.

DR: We’ve recorded one CD so far — “Face To Face” — which was done at TCC Southeast. A new one is in the planning stages. To my personal credit, I have 11, nine of which were recorded in Tulsa. The others were in Des Moines, Iowa, and Berlin, Germany.

BR: We plan to record a yet-unnamed album featuring film music next year … I also released my first solo album this year, “Classical with Attitude,” which features concert music infused with jazz or ragtime.

You include a wide variety of musical genres in your concerts — classical, hip-hop, funk, etc. Which are your favorites, and which are the favorites of your audiences?

DR: And included in that “etc.” are jazz and ragtime! Well, we do like everything we play, but not all styles are done in each concert, since we tailor the program to whoever engages us. I’m especially pleased that Barron is infected with most — if not all — of my music preferences and I like how he’s put his own personality into the mix. We have few disagreements about what to play. Audiences like to see us enjoying ourselves while playing excellently so I’m hard pressed to identify a style that is favored. We do try to keep our performances upbeat, rhythmic and even slightly edgy and so manage to please all who hear us. 

BR: I most enjoy the music we improvise, like jazz and some ragtime. We interact on those styles because we usually haven’t planned exactly how we’re going to play them, which makes it all the more fun. Our audiences also like when we play those styles, but I think their absolute favorite is our rendition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

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March 2019

As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
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Looking for something for your kids to do while you go to work this Spring Break?  Spotlight Theatre is offering this acting class taught by Crayons Improv.  Crayons will lead your...

Cost: 175

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Sponsor: Crayons Improv
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Contact Name: Nicole
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As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

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Looking for something for your kids to do while you go to work this Spring Break?  Spotlight Theatre is offering this acting class taught by Crayons Improv.  Crayons will lead your...

Cost: 175

Where:
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1381 Riverside Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Crayons Improv
Telephone: 918-557-5616
Contact Name: Nicole
Website »

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Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

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National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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Central Library
400 civic center
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Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
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Looking for something for your kids to do while you go to work this Spring Break?  Spotlight Theatre is offering this acting class taught by Crayons Improv.  Crayons will lead your...

Cost: 175

Where:
Spotlight Theatre
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Sponsor: Crayons Improv
Telephone: 918-557-5616
Contact Name: Nicole
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Cost: Free

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948 S 91st E Ave
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Telephone: 918-836-8686
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As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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Looking for something for your kids to do while you go to work this Spring Break?  Spotlight Theatre is offering this acting class taught by Crayons Improv.  Crayons will lead your...

Cost: 175

Where:
Spotlight Theatre
1381 Riverside Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Crayons Improv
Telephone: 918-557-5616
Contact Name: Nicole
Website »

More information

The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

 It's baseball time in Tulsa! Come and support the Golden Eagles on their road to the NCAA 2019 championship. All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all...

Cost: 7-14

Where:
J.L. JOHNSON STADIUM
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Website »

More information

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The Orbit Initiative, produced by The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust, resumes its FREE community satellite adventures at seven local community centers this Saturday, January 12th, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Various
Tulsa, OK  Various
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Sponsor: The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust
Telephone: 918-596-7119
Contact Name: Jeremy Stevens
Website »

More information

The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »

More information

We are hosting a traditional Wild Onion Dinner as a fundraiser this Saturday Mar 23rd.Menu: wild onions (locally harvested & cooked with eggs), fry bread, fried chicken, beans, potatoes, salt...

Cost: $10

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Sponsor: Yuchi Language Project
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
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Cost: 7-14

Where:
J.L. JOHNSON STADIUM
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $22-$44

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Cost: $50, $75, $100

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